This is the oddest title I've played in a while. The art is strange enough (though quite attractive), with sinister-looking characters that look like something Edward Gorey might have thought up. But the story is even stranger. You play Titus, an agoraphobic watchmaker who wants to become president of Wealland. You're up against the sinister Black Squirrels, a secret society lead by a mime named Desmond who seems oddly obsessed with destroying you personally. You'll have to employ all manner of dirty tactics to take them down, most of which are played out in a collection of 3D mini-games.
For example, you're going to need funds to run your political campaign. Fundraising puts you out hat in hand in front of the bank, while a wealthy donor tosses wads of cash down to you. You'll use on-screen buttons to move your hat back and forth to catch the cash and dodge his (rather uncalled for) bombs. And you'll need to regularly give out propaganda using a Doodle Jump[99¢] style game where you leap from mailbox to mailbox.
None of these mini-games would stand on their own, but the whole thing is wrapped in a compelling political simulator. You have to win nine elections before facing down Desmond, the despotic mime. They require increasingly large amounts of strategy, and a little luck, as you draw closer to your goal. You need to make sure you're bringing in enough funds without angering your donors, seek out rumors and scandals for the appropriate candidates, pay bribes for journalists that are high enough to score the interview without being so high as to sully your reputation, and decide just how dirty to get. Want to shake down passers-by for cash? It's an option, but it might come back to haunt you.
The meat of the game is in the main campaign, but if you're hooked on the electoral process you can run single elections with any of the characters you've defeated. You can also play the mini-games individually if you're really into them, but I'm not sure why you'd want to—they're fun enough in the context of the campaign, but they don't stand on their own very well. There aren't any leaderboards, unfortunately, and the achievements aren't synced to any online service. While we're talking negatives, the translation isn't fantastic. It seems like TITUS might be a more humorous game in the original French, but it stands as a quirky dark comedy as it is.
In a market that often rewards copycats and me-tooism, it's refreshing to play such an odd little game and find that it's also a lot of fun. Darkly cynical fun, but fun nonetheless. I didn't expect to recommend you a political simulation about the showdown between an agoraphobic watchmaker and a despotic mime, but here we are. It's definitely a happy surprise.
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