Democracy 4

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Democracy 4 Game Poster Image
Cold, calculated simulation of the political machine.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

The game's a very comprehensive simulation of running a country, detailing how changes in certain policies can affect multiple other facets as well as the lives and well-being of citizens. These interactions cover a wide range of topics and the equally wide range of sometimes surprising relationships.

Positive Messages

The game gives players lots of control to run their country as they see fit, reaping the rewards and coping with the consequences. It attempts to do this without bias, meaning that it's well within the realm of possibility that some actions that might seem deplorable could see some benefits, while more charitable or conscientious decisions could lead the country to ruin.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players are constantly at odds with other pollical parties, but there are no real heroes or villains. Players are responsible for their own policy decisions and must often work in some grey areas of morality to achieve a solid balance.

Ease of Play

There's a massive amount of information to process on any given turn. Individual policies can affect multiple other categories, policies, and population groups. Even a minor change in one can have a drastic effect on the rest of your country. And with random events, trends, and other variables outside of the player's control, it's extremely difficult to keep track of things and maintain balance.

Violence

Although the game doesn't explicitly show violence onscreen, there are many policies that relate to various types of violent activity. This includes military action, law enforcement practices, and equipment such as tasers and firearm controls. One specific policy mentions a ban on "genital mutilation," a practice that occurs in some religious societies.

Sex

The game features a few policies that relate to sex and sexual activity.

Language
Consumerism

This is the latest in the long-running Democracy simulation series.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many of the game's policies focus on things like the regulations of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, as well as the effects these can have on the populace at large. There are options to legalize or restrict these in different ways. Some pictures do occasionally show people smoking, drinking, etc.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Democracy 4 is a simulation game available for download on Windows based PCs. Players take on the role of a newly elected president or prime minister of a nation, implementing and adjusting key policies and budgeting to best suit the needs and desires of their electorate. These policies often deal with weighty subject matters, including gun control, racial relations, drug and alcohol restrictions, and the like. Players are also often pushed to make decisions that they may not agree with from a moral perspective in order to appease the masses. The way the game's set up, it's entirely possible that players trying to make the most conscientious decisions could bring their nation to collapse, while more self-serving and questionable policy decisions could lead to success. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJohnOzone November 25, 2020

Excellent game for learning about politics

An amazing political sandbox game that puts you as president and allows you to do whatever you feel is best for the country. Great game for learning if your son... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old March 19, 2021

Complicated.

This game is very complicated and does have some smoking here and there.
This also has very complicated styles, but does have colorblind support.
Teen, 17 years old Written byCanadianGuy November 27, 2020

An in depth political simulator

Democracy 4 is an in depth political simulator that allows players to take control of a nation and run it and the game can be quite complicated with some drug r... Continue reading

What's it about?

DEMOCRACY 4 is a government simulation game that drops players into the role of the newly elected president or prime minister of a powerful world nation. You've been given the power to implement real change, but how do you plan to use it? Will you take a hardline stance towards law and order, reducing crime but restricting personal rights? Or maybe you'll fight for the environment, but watch as those new guidelines create a sudden rise in unemployment. Each choice and every policy will have both benefits and consequences. Can you maintain the balance long enough to bring about real change, or at the very least to cull enough favor to win re-election?

Is it any good?

Everyone's heard the term "playing politics" before, and this series has let players do that for more than fifteen years now with its government simulation games. Democracy 4 is the biggest, most complex entry in the series to date, boasting new features such as a three party system, options to join and govern as part of a coalition, and the use of emergency powers to bypass the democratic process. There's also a whole host of new and modern policies to track and manage, including racial and transgender rights, legalization of drugs, police use of tasers and body cameras, and more. Underneath it all is a custom-built neural network that's meant to mimic the beliefs and biases of an entire country's worth of individual opinions. There's a lot that goes into trying to manage a democratic nation, and that's the biggest issue facing the game. Simply put, it's information overload.

Democracy 4 isn't a flashy game with CGI cutscenes, a huge story arc filled with character development, or fast-paced action to keep you on the edge of your seat. The bulk of it reads like a massive flowchart, with every available policy and law showing just how any change would affect multiple other categories. It's information overload on a grand scale, challenging players to find some kind of balance among the chaos. What's harder still is that in its drive to be a bias free simulation, it risks becoming morally ambiguous at times. For example, a player needing to raise their popularity with religious conservatives might heavily restrict the rights of the LGBTQ+ community to cull favor. Democracy 4 is a cold, calculated look at the political machine that operates behind the curtain of civility. It feels less like a game and more like what you'd get if you took a masters course in Civics and World Government taught with a Choose Your Own Adventure textbook.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about government and politics. How important is it for people to be informed and active in helping to shape their government? What are some of the differing ways that other nations' governments support or restrain their people?

  • What are some ways that a decision made in the moment can affect future outcomes? How can seemingly unrelated subjects be tied to one another, and what are some methods people can use to develop stronger decision-making skills?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love politics

Themes & Topics

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