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NarcoGuerra Review (iOS)

Auroch DigitalSometimes going looking for a new game – especially for a mobile device – can be a frustrating experience. Whether it be a cheap clone that is badly ripping off one of your favourite games, a free to play nickel and dimer, or a bad movie tie-in; those games are enough to make you want to hurt somebody. That is why we love the indie games developers. Always thinking outside the mainstream parameters, they try and grab our attention. This is so that we realise what an awesome game they have and we will shower them with money. But sometimes they do it just to see what will happen. Nowhere is this more apparent than with Game the News (or GTN) and their latest title NarcoGuerra.

NarcoGuerra is GTN’s latest news based game and this time it’s a doozy. For the uninitiated, GTN is a project by Auroch Digital. Their aim is to take today’s news, turn it into a game and hopefully give you a better understanding and some insight into the subject matter. GTN have now taken the war on drugs and turned it into a Risk like strategy game. The player plays the role of the chief of police who is trying to end the 41 year old war on drugs in Mexico.

Auroch DigitalThe gameplay area is a map of Mexico divided into zones. Each zone is either controlled by the police or one of the drug cartels. The game has 2 phases, a support phase and an attack phase. During the support phase you can move your units around, buy new units and stave of the corruption of existing units. The attack phase is where you try to take over the enemy territory. Combat during this phase is carried out by “dice rolls”. This sounds simple enough and to any seasoned gamer this would be a walk in the park, but this is where GTN goes real life on us.

You see, NarcoGuerra is a game in every aspect apart from one tiny fact – it’s not going to let you win. In the same way you would attack the enemy’s weakest point, the drug cartels will do the same. And if they are not attacking you directly, then they are corrupting your units by bribing them. This leads to the fact the every action in NarcoGuerra requires money. Hire more police units? That takes cash, stop corruption? Money please, attack more than once per turn? Pay the overtime of the police first. Oh, and if the street price of the drugs is high, the cartels will get there units quicker than you.

Auroch DigitalNarcoGuerra does a fantastic job of explaining the intricacies and difficulties that authorities all over the world face every day in the war on drugs. It can also paint a picture of a frightening world if you let it. In one of the campaigns I played, the drug cartels had all but two of the regions under their control. With no money left to attack the only option was to fortify my zones and pass. This carried on for the next 2 turns then a message popped up from one of the leaders of the cartels saying that if they were not attacked in the next turn, the police would get “some support”. I was being bribed directly! Another instance the game can throw into the mix is where drugs become legalised. This presents a whole host of different problems to deal with.

Once you have been schooled and understand the complexities of the war on drugs, there is a skirmish mode that can be played. This is more like Risk and the strategy game you were expecting from the story mode, which I still have not been able to complete. The only criticism with NarcoGuerra is that there is no save button. I’m not too sure if this is by design or I was too much of an idiot to find it. It would be nice to be able to quit out of the game and revisit story mode from where you left off, possibly giving you time to think about your next move whilst you were away from the game. But you cannot and again that may be GTN trying to make the point that in real life, you cannot walk away, even for a second.

NarcoGuerra How many times have you been sat watching the news and said something along the lines of “It’s easy, why don’t they just….” Well, NarcoGuerra is GTN’s way of telling us to put our money where our collective mouths are and prove it. It is an interesting game, a brilliant experiment and I wait with baited breath to see what they do next.

3.5 drug free zones out of 5

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