I’ve always held a morbid fascination with riots. My interest is immediately peaked the second I hear about adrenaline-fueled clashes between large mobs of haggard protestors fighting for what they believe in (and the occasional opportunist who’s fighting for their right to snag a new TV) and small groups of cops desperately trying to keep order in the face of overwhelming anarchy. Whenever I hear about a large one breaking out, my eyes are immediately glued to my monitor or television screen until it finally comes to a close. The second someone described to me  RIOT – Civil Unrest, a riot-themed strategy game based around real riots, I immediately became very intrigued.

RIOT first burst onto the scene back in early 2013 with a successful Indiegogo campaign, raising $36,139 in the process. Soon after the campaign came to a finish, the game was greenlit on Steam.


RIOT features numerous campaigns, each one set in a different location and focused on a different riot. The locations include Egypt, Greece, Italy, and Spain. Successfully completing each campaign results in bonus levels being unlocked; with riots set in Athens, France, Oakland, Spain, and Ukraine. I’m a bit surprised by the lack of a level set in Los Angeles, as we Angelinos will start riots over pretty much everything.

If you’re not interested by the riots included with the game, you’re in luck: it comes with a very in-depth level editor that allows players to build their own campaigns. Players can select a background (like some scenic green mountains, or a lonely stretch of road) and then click n’ drag a large variety of objects onto it in order to build a level. Want to create a trash-ridden tent city, or a construction site where absolutely nothing constructive is taking place? You can do it, and you can preface the anarchy by utilizing the game’s cutscene editor to embellish it with a rich narrative.

Instead of being forced to take control of the rioters or the police, RIOT allows players to play each campaign as either side.


Assuming the rule of the rioters allows players to command Leaders, Agitators, Rioters (both passive and armed), and Journalists. They can attempt to induce further anarchy and rage in the common man to increase the severity of the riot, or they can try to mellow the whole thing out with “tactical crowd reformation” (which sounds like what happens whenever my relatives get into a fight during Thanksgiving) and retreats. Players can also choose to employ a large variety of weapons (including Molotov cocktails) to fight authority, as well as harness the dark power of the media to turn public opinion against the police. Ph’nglui mglw’nafh CNN Atlanta wgah’nagl fhtagn.

Authority-focused players can instead take the role of the police, employing crowd-control tactics as they attempt to push the human wall back. In the process, they’ll take control Assault, Tactical, Ballistic, Arrest, and Plain Clothes squads. Alongside that, players can also call in police trucks, water cannons, and the sinister sounding snatch squads. Players can also choose to to use smoke grenades, tasers, rubber bullets, or even live ammunition if the situation gets bad enough.


The precise release date for RIOT remains currently unknown, but it’s scheduled to be out by the end of the year. The game will be available on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and Ouya platforms. The Steam page is currently up, though it can’t be pre-ordered.

About the Author

Taylor Woolstenhulme

Raised on a steady supply of superhero cartoons, videogames, and heavy metal Taylor Woolstenhulme was destined to have a lifelong love affair with everything geek. Fascinated by the possibilities of emergent gameplay; Taylor's favorite genres include the non-explosive kind of RPG, grand strategy, and open world sandboxes. He lives in sunny California, and hopes to pursue writing as a full-time career.

View All Articles