In 2013, Riot - Civil Unrest was announced by developer Merge Games and went on to have a successful Indiegogo campaign. Four years later the game has finally arrived on Steam Early Access. Riot is a real-time riot simulator that puts you in control of either a large group of rioters or the police. As the rioters, you attempt to hold a position or reach a specified destination. As the police, it’s your job to hold back or disperse the crowd.
Riot was an interesting idea back in 2013, and it now holds even more weight with 2018 on the horizon. Set in real world political conflicts like The Arab Spring, the game establishes the context for each riot prior to jumping in. However, it doesn’t do much beyond telling you what happened or what strides have been made as a result. The game does a good job of putting political issues around the world on your radar, but it doesn’t take a side or discuss their wider impact.
At the end of each match you see a brief newspaper article with the outcome and get a numerical score based on how violently you behaved. Compared to the matches’ visuals of civilians bleeding out on the street and the sound of chants interrupted by gas canisters being shot, these results feel a little hollow. There’s a multiplayer mode where two players can face off locally as rioters and police, and a custom level editor that gives the player the ability to upload custom imagery and design levels. The game is still in development, and the controls could use some tightening, as well as the addition of a tutorial rather than burying controls in a menu. There’s still plenty to be done to make Riot feel more fleshed out.
Riot - Civil Unrest is available now on Steam Early Access, and Merge says there are also plans for it to come to iOS, Android, and consoles.