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Backlog Impressions | Despotism 3K

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Have you ever played a game that just tugged at your heartstrings? A game full of cute, colorful characters and soothing gameplay. A game that just straight up feeds your soul and makes you feel like all’s right with the world, even just for the short bits of time you are playing it? I know I sure have and let me tell you, Despotism 3K by Konfa Games is 100% none of those things… but in the best way possible!

No, instead of some endearing farmer or adorable bobble-headed villager you’ll be playing as an evil robot overlord who hates humans, bows to no one, and also has a weird obsession with butter. Since you are mechanical and can’t actually use butter for fuel you need energy of the electrical persuasion. And what better way to produce that energy than to use the handful of enslaved humans you’ve somehow acquired! Throw them in a hamster wheel device to run their puny little hearts out and rev yours up with lots of energy, all the while managing their incessant needs and trying not to tick off the higher ups (WHOM YOU WILL DEFINITELY SURPASS ANY DAY NOW!!). But did this weird and wonderful strategy sim end up just running me ragged? Or was it more of a pleasant and welcome takeover?

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I can’t say I’ve ever played a game quite like Despotism 3K before, but certainly the whole strategy/management concept is not new to me. Honestly, the first game that comes to mind for comparison is Death Road to Canada. It has those same tough as nails, resource management, qualities combined with a lot of make-or-break scenario pop ups that can mean the difference between a good or bad run. Although the gameplay is quite different between those two games I think it’s still a good comparison for letting someone know what they are in for should they find themselves wanting to take on this game.

One of the things in particular that drew my eye initially was the simple art style and then in turn the seemingly simple gameplay. I was in the mood for a no commitment, pick up and play type of game and Despotism 3K looked to fit that bill perfectly.

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Did I mention that this game is hard as ballz? Yeah with a Z… it’s THAT challenging! As of writing this I still have yet to make it to day 25, ON EASY MODE! I’ve played it a few times on the standard mode as well just to unlock a few of those achievements and lift my self worth out of the gutter, but typically I stick to easy mode, and still fail horribly. I will say I am getting better as I see some repeating scenarios and know which responses to pick.

See, as you play there will be a timer counting down at the top of the HUD. That’s there to let you know when a big energy expenditure is about to happen. You need to have your wheel of humans generating enough energy to fill the gauge to the marked line by the time that counter hits zero or it’s game over. If you’re in a bind you can also throw a handful of your captives into the bioreactor for a quick infusion of power, as well as food for the ones still running away on the wheel… *jazz hands*. Frequently though, that counter will turn red and start making a very ominous sound. That means there is an event taking place that requires your attention or a choice (usually the worst one) will be made for you.

Thankfully, once you figure out which response will give you which result you can at least thwart disaster for a few more minutes, but honestly that’s half the fun with this game. Any of the blind choices you make could be the one that sets you up or knocks you down this time around. And no matter what happens the results will probably make you chuckle as this game’s sense of humor will eventually warp yours. Yes, the overzealous pink human who is now impaled and spinning around on a makeshift stripper pole in the breeding tube while the other couples continue to “make the beast of two backs” as it were, made me laugh. #NoRegrets.

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I’m not gonna sugar coat the fact that there definitely seems to be some events that will damn your run no matter which choice you make. And while that sucks, it does keep the game interesting. Most bad things that happen can be worked around with some quick and clever thinking though. Like Robot Overlord-senpai always says, “When in doubt, TO THE BIOREACTOR!!”, and they aren’t wrong. Just don’t kill off too many of your humans because you need at least two to make one more and so on. Math amirite?

I can’t think of much to say about what I would change to be honest. The difficulty is very high and that could definitely turn some people off, but I think it’s more of a case of just figuring out how the game works and making your way from there, rather than labeling the game as unfairly difficult. It’s a strategy game at its core and figuring out the strategy for success is the whole point.

Also there are a bunch of different game modes to try if the standard one isn’t to your liking. You do have to play the default one to unlock the others though so be prepared for some grinding, a little bit of frustration, and a whole lot of failing.

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The humor is what makes this game next level and worth your time by a longshot. There are a ton of pop culture references and the way the writers really leaned into the whole jaded robot theme made me excited to see what horrifying scenario would pop up next even if it was one that made me eventually lose my current progress. All I’m saying is – who hasn’t ever wanted the opportunity to throw Marty McFly into a bioreactor? The $8 price tag is worth it for a game that will tap your inner addict, and masochist, even for just a few short sittings. I know I still plan to keep plugging away and one day… maybe one day see that 25th day grace the wall counter.

If you’re interested in checking out Despotism 3K for yourself, You can find it on the Nintendo Switch, Xbox Store, PlayStation Store, and Steam.