Politiko Review: The Game of Malaysian Politics

Update 17th May: The app is now available for download on iOS as well.

The next General Election is just around the corner, as Malaysians from all over the nation prepare to vote once again in order to determine the fate of their country. Maybe you’ve heard of the Politiko card game, which is based on the local political scene here. There is actually a mobile game version of Politiko, developed by Centaur Games in collaboration with NightMorning. It is currently available to download for free on the Google Play Store for all Android users.

The goal of the game is simple, you have to win more seats than your opponents and you are given only 8 turns to do so. The game is played on a map of hexagonal shapes, with each building representing voters and a group of them representing a seat. The player controls a seat when they gain control of at least half its voters. The color of each voter represents different demographics like Malay Rural or Chinese Urban. The party you choose determines which demographic of voters that can be controlled.

Politiko Screenshot 5

Players also get scheme cards, just like in the original card game. You can only play 2 schemes per turn. These scheme cards are the main gameplay element of Politiko, as you use different cards to either gain voters or inflict a handicap towards your opponent.

Players can choose between the United Nationalists Front or the People’s Hope Coalition. You can probably guess from the description as┬áto which parties they are analogous in real Malaysian politics. Even the logo is only slightly altered from their real-life counterparts.

Politiko Screenshot 2

What I liked best about Politiko were its funny and charming scheme cards. They were totally the highlight, giving me chuckles every time I see a new card. Each party has its own unique scheme cards, which are extremely hilarious to anyone who understands the local political machinations and keeps up with the latest political scandals. I’ll show you a few examples I came across while playing the game.

Politiko Screenshot 3
*cough* Uncanny resemblance there.
Politiko Screenshot 4
They’re not holding back, are they?

There are over 50 scheme cards in the game, which reflects the real-life political tactics used by local parties. The fun comes from discovering new cards and recognizing the meaning behind each card.

The game is simple and it only took me a game or two to understand the mechanics of the game. It might be a lot simpler compared to the original card game but that could possibly bring in even more players.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t say the game was extremely easy or anything. I still lost several matches when my opponent surprised me with some good scheme cards, leaving me with nothing to counter with. The AI is competent enough that the tables could be turned against us at any time. With only 8 turns per game, you have to make your choices count.

Politiko Screenshot 6
A totally accurate representation and simulation of Malaysian politics.

One thing that could improve Politiko is the addition of multiplayer or the ability to play against human opponents. For now, you can only play against AI opponents, which could get tired fast for some. In the comments section on the game’s Play Store page, many players are requesting for multiplayer and it looks like we might receive the feature soon if there are enough players to justify it. The game is limited to Android devices for now, but an iOS version is coming soon.

Any Malaysian would have a hoot playing Politiko, especially with the next General Election due next week. Even if you’re not well-versed in local Malaysian politics, the game offers a simple enough premise which provides you with something fun and charming to play in short bursts. If you’re a big political nut, Politiko is totally the game for you. You can also check out our review of the original Politiko card game here, if you’re into the physical stuff.

Score: 75/100

Politiko Screenshot 7
Now you’re ready to enter Malaysian politics. Umm…


Author: Alleef Ashaari

Aspiring writer. Born in Amsterdam, raised in Malaysia. Comics are my passion. A gamer and science fiction enthusiast. PSN: AlleefAshaari

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