App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Rebel Inc. is somewhat of a follow up to Plague Inc., the widely celebrated game about spreading a virus worldwide. Where that game was mostly about unleashing chaos in the world, Rebel Inc. is in a lot of ways its opposite. This is a game about trying to restore stability to places by investing in infrastructure, managing government successfully, and using military forces to fight off insurgents. It’s certainly an interesting idea, and makes for a real-time strategy game that is mostly pretty fun, though occasionally a little repetitive.
In Rebel Inc. you play as a new leader of a country that is recovering from war. Your country needs to rebuild, but not everyone is so sure you should be the one to do it. As you bring stability to this region, you also have to win hearts and minds, all while making sure your populace stays safe from the remaining pockets of insurgents looking to topple your fragile society.
From a gameplay standpoint, this all plays out in real-time from the safe overhead view of your country. You start by picking a headquarters for your stability operations, and from there, you need to gather intel on surrounding regions, figure out what they need, and invest appropriately. This isn’t always as easy as it seems though, as you also have to contend with the corruption and inflation that can come from spending lots of money, plus you always have to be prepared to defend your efforts from insurgent forces looking to take you down.
Crush the insurgents
The primary source of challenge in Rebel Inc. comes from insurgent forces that appear randomly over the course of a play session. These are enemy units that can attack regions and turn them against you. This can be a huge problem because Rebel Inc. maintains a reputation meter on the right side of the screen at all times, and if that drains—which it will if the insurgents are successful at working against you—you lose the game.
Fortunately, you aren’t completely defenseless against these enemy forces. You can train your own troops and fight back. The combat system in Rebel Inc. is probably its most fascinating aspect, as it takes into consideration the idea of using outside troops vs. training your own national forces, the efficacy and ethics of air strikes, and more. While the interactions you have in combat aren’t all that engrossing (you’re simply moving military tokens into regions with bad guys and hoping they die), the small mechanical and conceptual differences between the way your military forces interact with both enemies and your own populace adds a ton of dimension to Rebel Inc.
People never change
Insurgency uprisings and political strife can rear their heads at any time while playing Rebel Inc., but that doesn’t mean that each round of the game feels unique. Quite the opposite, actually. Everyone in every region in Rebel Inc. all wants you to invest in services, development, and infrastructure, and you can do this pretty easily by doing slight variations on a single strategy.
To be fair, this is probably an accurate representation of what it’s like to stabilize a region, but it also can make sessions with Rebel Inc. feel a bit samey. In addition to various regions, there are also unique leaders you can unlock and play as, all of whom have their own advantages and disadvantages, but these are all so slight that they don’t really do enough to shake things up. The only real time I felt the need to switch up what I was doing in Rebel Inc. was by upping the game to the max difficulty, which mostly just makes insurgents much more resilient and annoying.
The bottom line
Rebel Inc. is fascinating and fun, but if you find a strategy in the game that works, it works just about everywhere. This doesn’t bode well for a game that doesn’t really have enough story or other content to it to switch things up dramatically, but somehow I still find the game fun. It’s just oddly satisfying to walk through the steps of returning a region to stability, even if the way you go about it is largely the same every time you do it.