RIOT: Civil Unrest Review

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​​Riot: Civil Unrest is certainly a promising idea–at least on paper. You are tasked with being a part of or opposing riots through the years and attempt to help or hinder the cause accordingly. There are three game modes: global, story, and versus. In global mode, your decisions will have consequences. After choosing your faction, you run through missions during which the public opinion will shift based on your actions. In story mode, you play through a series of riots interspersed with tidbits of the history behind the movement. In versus mode, you can play locally against a friend. Both players choose their faction and either maintain the peace or disturb it with the added benefit of being able to trash talk your opponent.

This sounds like a good mixture of modes–and it would be if gameplay was half as engaging as the premise. A riot, by definition, is a violent disturbance of the peace. Unfortunately, the developers apparently didn’t take that into consideration when deciding on how to play Riot: Civil Unrest. Perhaps it’s my fault for going in with the idea that Riot would play like Pikmin, where you have a horde of minions following you and you can dispatch them at will to neutralize threats and perform basic tasks. Or even like other real time strategy (RTS) games where you can control squads, direct them to objectives, then ultimately leave them to fight, gather materials, defend a point, and so on.

Instead, Riot’s core gameplay consists of wandering around in a disorganized herd and sometimes pressing a corresponding face button to use an item. Before the match begins, you can select what you want to take with you. I tried out each item at least once and they don’t have visually appealing special effects, nor do they seem to do very much at all. You can toggle between allied groups using the D-pad (I’m a fan of how minimalistic the UI is), but otherwise you’ll spend a lot of time milling around and waiting for the timer to run out. No, seriously. There’s also indicators that tell you how riled up either side of the conflict is, ranging from passive to aggressive, but that level of activeness is never reflected on-screen. Even in the middle of full-blown rebellion, Riot just seems… subdued.

Maybe I’m doing it wrong? Maybe there’s a way to make things far more exciting and I’m just overlooking it. That being said, there’s a distinct lack of tutorial. The tool tips tell you what items do, though it’s not always evident what effect they have even mid-use.

I adore the art style. Riot uses a grungy pixel art style that suits its theme. The music is also fitting, though for the most part the only thing you’ll hear is the low roar of dissident voices and sounds effects accompanying item usage. I can’t comment on replayability because I was bored to tears within the first few minutes of starting up a match.

​To be honest, part of the reason I’m hard on Riot: Civil unrest is because I’m disappointed by it. As one of the people who have been following it since its Kickstarter, I expected more. There was also a long stretch of time between the PC release and the console release–precious time during which the developers could have enhanced the gameplay based on initial feedback from fans and critics alike. Instead, here we are with the same flawed end product at a ridiculous price tag considering what you’re getting.

Riot is a great idea, but gameplay leaves a lot to be desired. If you enjoy watching pixel people jostling each other while waiting for a timer to run out, Riot: Civil Unrest may be the game for you. For those hoping for engaging, strategic gameplay you may want to steer clear of this one.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to

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RIOT: Civil Unrest Review
  • Gameplay - 3/10
  • Graphics - 3/10
  • Sound - 3/10
  • Replay Value - 3/10
User Review
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Riot is a great idea, but gameplay leaves a lot to be desired. If you enjoy watching pixel people jostling each other while waiting for a timer to run out, Riot: Civil Unrest may be the game for you.


  • Great presentation, music, and premise.


  • Steep price tag.
  • No explanations/tutorials given.
  • Gameplay leaves much to be desired.

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