May 25, 2024
Live a double life undercover in Don Duality. Can you be the cities biggest Mafia leader and run your money laundering restaurant at the same time? The Finger Guns review:

Games such as Ravenous Devils never got the hype it truly deserved. There was a real formula to that game and others like it. A two way parallel gameplay of doing one task whilst  really having to do another. Don Duality gave me the Ravenous Devils snack I had been craving for, for so long. 

Play Your Cards Right

Don Duality, in essence, is a tycoon game with card mechanics. No, not the kind of tycoon where you build intricate roller coaster theme parks or giant hospitals, and also not the tycoon game that is simply an idle clicker. In Don Duality, players are in charge of building a criminal empire and trying to take the city, whilst concealing their business through the means of an up-market Italian restaurant. 

This is a game that looks quite simple on the surface, but no run is the same and strategy will be your best friend. It is your job to balance the plates on the spinner of running your restaurant, staff, hired gangsters, missions to seize the city, defending your own territory and laundering money to pay everyone all at the same time. It is also important a) not to die, and b) not to get arrested. Doing any of these will end your run in-game and you’ll have to start again. 

When starting a new game, if you’re not on the tutorial you’ll be given a roster of basic staff (both above board in your restaurant and some gangsters to get you started) and a handful of cards. The cards and their mechanics represent different missions and make the meat up of your gameplay. Each card in your hand will either be an action for a mission on the city or it may be a means in running your restaurant, hiring staff or gathering upgrades to survive. 

Mission… Possible?

Each mission will require either one or more of your gangsters to attend, and those gangsters will be frozen out of gameplay whilst they attend the mission. Depending on how high stakes the mission is (dependent on which part of the city it is in – more on that later) will depend on how high both the reward and penalty is for successfully completing or subsequently failing that mission is. For example, stealing from a granny may only require one gangster, and so may only give you 100 coins of dirty money. However, stealing from a big art exhibition may require three of your lackeys but the reward will be worth it. 

Failing any mission will result in a penalty and this is done at random. There are factors that can contribute such as your staffing. If you send really common staff to each mission you may end up failing this more often. You can pay a higher daily rate for staff who may be able to be less likely to fail a mission or reduce the time penalty that mission takes. It is up to you to choose what you can afford to fail. As you play Don Duality you will be made aware of your heat meter. A meter that essentially tells you how aware the police are of you. If you reach the end of the meter then you will go to court and risk being arrested and having your game end. Certain cards can increase or decrease this meter and depending on the type of card may depend on how much that meter decreases or increases. If you scare a cop, and fail this, the meter will rise significantly more than a petty theft. If you manage to succeed, you could drop some heat and have more room to fail more higher stakes missions without getting caught. 

This has been an interesting way to play and the card mechanics are very engaging. The stakes are high and could absolutely make or break the game, and they have in many runs caused the start of my fateful demise. At times you can be hanging on by a thread and the right card will come up to save your bacon. 

No card mechanic in games would be right without an Uno Reverse card and Don Duality has exactly that. Every so often a red action card will be in your hand. This represents a potential event that will disadvantage your gameplay in some way. This may end up in money loss or being found out as an example. There are ways to get rid of these cards with a ‘skip random event’ card that can be played – there will be a sort of timer on these cards so you’ll know when they activate. You can however cheese this mechanic a bit by just playing the day slowly and awaiting your day in business to end. However, In a game where you may be hanging on by the skin of your buttcheeks, a sudden customer theft of 2500 coins or a betrayal from one of your team can make or break your entire playthrough so it is important to keep an eye on these if you’re having a good run!

Although slowly waiting the day out so you don’t have anything ‘bad’ happen is one strategy you could keep too, if youre not busy trying, you’ll be busy dying. Yes, I set that ridiculously cheesy sentence up to now to explain to you that Don Duality is all about strategy. You’ll have two different types of income. The income gathered by completing missions in the city successfully and the income from patrons in your restaurant. The income from patrons will help launder your dirty money into clean money to be able to use. 

Anything that involves your undercover mafia life, will need to be done with the income that is dirty. Anything that involves upgrading your restaurant, hiring staff, paying your staff, will need to be done with your legal money. This is all well and good, until you realise that your restaurant skills slap harder than your mafia skills and you can no longer pay any gangsters or upgrade your area because all the money keeps being cleaned too quickly. So then starts the addictive gameplay loop of Don Duality and keeping the balance between bad ass bozo in the downtown city and badass restaurant on trip advisor. 

Bringing A Knife To A Gun Fight

As well as yourself there are 3 other bigwigs trying to take the city into its own clutches. You will work on missions by territory. Each successful mission will grant progress into owning the area. When starting a new game each family will start in their respective corner and work inwards to try and take over unowned territories. Eventually as time goes on, they will take those territories and other families may start to try and take already owned territories. If you think of the basic map mechanics of RISK (without the rules, troops ect), then you have the idea. The aim of the game is to take the city as yours. Each territory will be coded by money bags, the more money bags in that territory the higher the reward and risk for those missions. 

If you or another family is attempting to take a territory that was already previously owned, this will activate a fight or shoot out. Fighting means that any lackies left behind in your restaurant will be available to be in the shoot out. Another layer to the strategy; If you have sent all your biggest guys to a mission and your left with one or two people against a four man gun fight, you’re likely going to end up cleaning corpses. Yes, that will be something you will also need to do to not raise suspicion from the police. If you succeed in the fight the territory becomes yours and you can focus on another location (or if you’ve defended your own location). If you lose, then that family will take the location and potentially start to try and seize others around it which may be yours. 

The fighting is interesting and can catch you out. You will get a countdown timer for when a fight may commence but this is a mere matter of seconds and you may have just gone on a mission mafia spree, leaving all common folk behind. The fight itself is a cut scene of sorts that is likely RNG depending on who you have brought to the fight and what upgrades you have in your den. Players can buy a weapons cache and a punching bag to increase the chances of surviving.  

No Body, No Crime

As you progress deeper into the game, the more likelihood fights will happen. I had two fights in very quick succession and it sunk my whole playthrough because I was now concentrating on using my remaining alive gangsters to hide bodies. Whilst this is happening, in the background your dirty money is being cleaned and you may not have enough money to replace them as you can not use legal money. This is the part of the strategy I really enjoyed. 

The game is masked almost like it will play itself in some places, and maybe for a short time it will, however players will need to keep their eyes on all areas the longer you manage to remain undetected.Even the art style of pixels gives the sense that this game is something that may be idley played. The pixel art is very astehtically pleasing on the eye giving the game a retro feel. 

The aim of the game is to take the whole city or at least try and survive for as long as you possibly can. I found myself always finding out new things to think about for my next playthrough, and every time I would survive further and further. This is a bit of a different take than the other classic tycoon games. Usually the pendulum swings the other way in that the game is very full on to start with, navigating through what to put where and starting the business and usually peters out as you play and become more successful. However with Don Duality, the more successful you are, the higher the risk. 

At the end of your run if you have money left over, this will go into your main kitty and this money can be spent using gold ‘don cards’ to have a timed upgrade for your next run. There are pages upon pages of potential don cards to unlock and so it will be difficult to state you’d be bored or the game becomes stagnant in runs. Advantages can be making your waiters faster for 30 seconds, reducing your heat, and reducing your mission time. These can be lifelines to your playthrough and will make all the difference once they are used. 

So far Don Duality has been pretty stable throughout my time playing this and I have had a lot of fun. I only had one initial run in with a weird crash where the game restarted even though I had not ‘lost’ the playthrough as such, I just exited the menu. This has not happened since however.  Don Duality was a game initially nowhere on my radar, and I think for those who may come across this randomly may find themselves in a sinkhole of enjoyment. For those who may have anticipated Don Duality, likely won’t be disappointed.

For fans of the tycoon this is a good entry that sits firmly between the big hitters and the idle clickers. Long term commitment is not needed like other games in the genre. It is completely possible to dip in and out as one pleases without feeling like you may forget things, drop the strategy and have too much to keep up with. Whilst it may be probably eventually players may find the card mechanics RNG frustrating or the shoot-outs a bit vexing when they take out your whole team ‘unfairly’, so far it feels part of the fun. 

Don Duality is a wonderful tycoon game with duality gameplay in seizing the city and laundering money through a successful restaurant. A surprisingly addictive gameplay loop which has players fighting to stay alive another day and needing more strategy than meets the eye. For fans of the tycoon this is a good entry that sits comfortably between the big hitters and the idle clickers.

Don Duality is available now on PC.

Developer: Königsberg
Publisher: Ravenage Games

Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.

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