Don Duality on PC

I’ve been really enjoying the duplexity of games lately, including Dave the Diver’s day/night cycle and the various terrains of SteamWorld Build. The same can be said for the Chaos Manager, Don Duality, as players simultaneously tackle the struggles of running a syndicate and a restaurant.

From what I’ve experienced, I believe it has a strong foundation with its unique concept of having a split screen with two distinct lifestyles. At the bottom, you’ll send out minions to make your mark across the districts, while the top showcases the normalcy of a restaurant. The customer service business is essentially a cover for your dirty deeds, and you’ll need to improve it to steer the police away from the gang.

Players will manage both establishments using the hand they are dealt with, featuring a variety of action and random event cards. Now, I was never really good at card-based games, but Don Duality’s concept is relatively easy to grasp due to its simple descriptions that don’t overwhelm the player with an absurd amount of details. My past attempts in this type of genre were typically unsuccessful because of their complex mechanics, so it’s refreshing to see a much more accessible system.

Cards in Don Duality
Image Source: Königsborgs via Twinfinite

As the story goes, you’ll take on the role of the Don to restore your family’s legacy, starting with the money you receive from your father. It’s up to you to capture each district, and you can keep track of your status as a mob leader on a map showcasing all the targeted areas. Other factions will try to drive you out of more formidable locations, and it can lead to an all-out brawl if things get too heated.

In the tutorial, you’ll unlock cards for the restaurant, including Hire a Waiter, Hire a Cook, and Buy a Table. On the other hand, the gangster side brings dangerous tasks, from robbing a bank to lottery fraud and bribing the police. I initially didn’t completely understand the gameplay mechanics, given that it can get less descriptive with instructions over time. However, as you continue to play the game, you’ll eventually get the hang of it by learning from your mistakes in previous attempts.

While Don Duality doesn’t necessarily have a linear storyline, things can still change with each passing run as your strategies and cards evolve. Yet, this concept may change once the character progression has been added from an upcoming update shown in the game’s roadmap.

Once players get deep into the gameplay, they must decide which cards are necessary for their success. Will you focus on improving the restaurant? Or are you going to risk it for the gang? It all depends on your playstyle, with a hint of luck based on your action selection. The crew you choose can also determine your outcome, and they can include special perks that could ultimately save you during the most intense situations.

For example, the Death Cheater gangster can avoid getting killed on the run, which actually happens a lot more often than you think. Even more so, your fallen soldiers can raise attention to the police (their dead bodies will basically look like pieces of furniture), so an invincible character can certainly prove worthy. Aside from the minions, the kitchen and waiting staff can boost the establishment’s performance with their unique talents, such as speedy movements or high-level charisma.

Choosing the Staff in Don Duality
Image Source: Königsborgs via Twinfinite

The only problem with these elite members is the fact that they cost much more than the standard employee, and you’ll need to ensure that you can pay them out via the Staff Salary section. The cash flow is divided into two: the clean money you earn from the restaurant and the intake you gather from the mob. Therefore, players must have enough for both jobs to keep everyone happy and stray away from the IOU cards.

During my playthroughs, the restaurant is always my first focal point to give off the appearance of a normal business. Then, I would switch my attention to the gang by tackling small-time jobs with a lower risk. If you fail a task, you will earn alert points for the police meter, which can result in a trial when it gets to the red zone. Fortunately, players can get that down by inviting VIP guests or choosing cards that reduce the cops’ attention.

It can be a bit tedious by the end of your run once the police meter stays in the red zone, triggering trials repeatedly after just a few minutes. Here, you’ll be judged on your actions, in which you spin a slot machine to determine your success percentage rate. Those arrested can restart their playthrough to see what happens in the next run, allowing you to place gold cards with special perks using the money you earned previously.

In some cases, players can still run into trouble, regardless of their strategy, as there will be random event cards that can cause more issues, including fire inspections, police raids, and customer walkouts. I would have liked to see a more balanced selection of actions, given that it can sometimes lean heavily on the gangster or the restaurant. And, maybe a few more options to lower the police meter, but I suppose it makes sense when the business racks in too much money.

The more I played Don Duality, the more fun I had, and I found myself addicted to getting a better outcome the next time around. I also enjoyed the Collectible Cards aspect that will appear gradually, like the Mom is coming! action that unlocks a scene about the Don’s meal selection. On top of that, the achievements are incredibly satisfying to get as a trophy enthusiast, and they can range from high money earnings to unexpected scenarios.

Based on the roadmap, the game definitely has the potential to become something more, including the upcoming addition of bartenders, seasonal festivals, and separate save slots. Don Duality has all the makings of an excellent management game, combining two different concepts for a brand-new experience. And, if you enjoyed Dave the Diver’s dual lifestyle, you should pick this one up to become the ultimate multi-tasking gamer.

Don Duality

Reviewer: Kristina Ebanez

Award: Editor’s Choice