An offer you can’t refuse.
As someone who has a morbid fascination with the mafia and a long-standing love of 1998 PC strategy game Gangsters: Organized Crime, The Commission: Organized Crime Grand Strategy scratches many an itch for me.
The second I heard about it I rushed to see if it could stir up those memories of building a criminal empire – or trying to, at least – and revelling in the power of the Don from behind the safety of a keyboard. After spending some time with a test build of The Commission and getting familiar with the city of New Shore, I’m happy to say that it does.
Developer 302 Interactive is building a complex strategy game where you take on the role of Don of one of the five families of New Shore. The city is split into boroughs, and in these boroughs are neighbourhoods. It’s your job to assign your underlings to these areas and choose which rackets to set up where in order to maximise profit, grow your family and take over the city.
While it seems simple at first glance, the multiple systems at play quickly start to interact and it’s easy to let things get out of hand. You’ve got to pay close attention to every decision. Wondering why your speakeasy isn’t drawing in the cash like it should? That ‘alcoholic’ trait attached to your chosen Soldato means he’s probably drinking a percentage of the profits. Not only have you got to keep your ear to the ground at all times, but then you’ve got the other families to worry about – not to mention the cops – and the looming opinion of the shadowy Commission itself.
So many factors have an influence on the success or failure of rackets and strategies; the size of a neighbourhood, the wealth of its residents, your choice of family itself – you can even glean a lot from the written descriptions attached to each location. While just a static board filled with icons, New Shore does feel like a fleshed-out city – though it would be nice to see your key decisions play out in real time, or even random events based on the state of the city and your progress. The developers are talking about improving communication of events to players, and this would add a lot of context and depth to the experience.
But so far, The Commission is definitely shaping up to be one of those ‘just one more turn’ strategy games. It benefits from a smaller focus than something like a Civilization or Crusader Kings, and once you get into a money-making rhythm, you have to control yourself before things go tragically wrong.
One of my first attempts saw three of my Soldatos arrested and one Caporegime killed before the 25th turn. Too hard, too fast rarely has the legs. But timid and cautious will see you squeezed out of town sharpish.
From the music to the writing, the prohibition era setting makes this a unique strategy game which will hopefully be bolstered by some key additions and extra features before its late August Steam release. If you fancy trying out the latest playtest build, head on over to the Discord server and join the family. The devs are eager for feedback and their passion for the project shows, so I’ll definitely be playing this obsessively until release – and I’m excited to see what it looks like on day one and beyond.