My son has failed the college entrance exam and now my wife expects me to sign him in, using my presidency privileges. My government is in debt. I have allies and enemies in the surrounding countries, but god how can I trust my friends or define my foes? What about the big recession going on? After I have dealt with the communist militants, I had to ban one of the languages in schools in order to deter further terrorist actions inland. This is me, President Rayne, who is after saving his Sordland and becoming the SUZERAIN of the region.
The story above is only one of the many routes your adventure might take in the text-based political RPG ‘Suzerain’. The game is Developed by Torpor Games and published by Fellow Traveler who provided GAMESCAN with the Steam version to review. The game is so much worked for and is a thorough dissertation on modern Western politics. It opens at the beginning of the 20th century, though the settings are fictional and the history of its world is not factual. Yet, the ideologies, outlooks, decisions, and manners of statecraft in Suzerain are modeled on the modern nations and countries of the second half of the 20th century, especially the minor Europeans.
Your first task in the game is both witnessing and shaping history for yourself and your homeland, Sordland. Once this part is over, you will be chosen as the 4th president of the country. There is a rich history about what has happened before your time, the characters before you and those still around, the neighboring countries, the fractions in parliament and court, minority populations, and almost everything that you may come across during the course of your adventure. All this information is available in the codex. Apart from that, much info related to the new and ongoing alteration and decisions is also written in other parts of the big database with whose help you have to handle a country.
There are many matters to be taken into consideration in leading Sordland to Suzerainty: your number one problem is the decaying economy which requires both long-term and fundamental, and short-term measures; there are the problems of national security, dealing with both inland and foreign threats; there is the question of change and loyalty to the promises you made to the people; there is the constant danger of losing the favor of one group of MPs or the influential and powerful men and women; to add salt to injury, you also have to manage your personal life at home, with a feminist wife, a teenage boy, and a little sweet girl.
All the above mentioned happens through text, so be ready to read as much as you have never done in your life. Interestingly, Suzerain does not require a big load of English vocabulary knowledge and apart from a couple of terms, you will have no problem in fast-reading the dialogues and conversations or the reports. The problem with the reading is the small font size which seems to be permanent; no options are available for the player to change font size and if you play the game on a not-very-big screen, you might end up reaching forward to see which is what.
Related post: Kentucky Route Zero | Postmodern Modernity
Visually speaking, the game is made up of text, character portraits, and a 3D map. Character portraits are drawn in a cartoonish/painting style that adds to the sense of old-worldy-ness of the game and also removes the thread of any resemblance to any individual whatsoever. The map, which functions as your deck, is a simple drawing with city centers and countries having a 3D emblem. The developer kept the visuals as modest as possible and there is nothing on the screen which would distract you from the texts, the heart of Suzerain.
Sound-wise, the modesty of the visuals is tripled; there are only a couple of soundtracks in the game that are played based on the situation you are in. All in all, no track is happy or jelly, which adds to the gloomy state of the country and affairs. But the tracks are nice and listening to them is enjoyable if you would be in the mode, otherwise, you would not lose much if you mute the game. Apart from soundtracks, there are sound effects that are accompanying ambient to the scene the text is explaining.
Suzerain is very exciting and interesting and the senses of replayability and suspense toward the fate of a country led by the player are great. There are many routes you can take to lead Sordland to: a capitalist government focused on wealth acquisition and concerned with the capital and the influential big heads of the country and the neighboring lands; a modest state leaning toward more privatization and less central power; or anything in between the two or even a different third mode. However, the ideological basis of the game is the Western mindset of government with a slight turn toward the liberal new order nations.
Suzerain is a lengthy video game that can engage the player for many hours, but it takes patience, an interest in politics, and a readiness for reading texts and dialogues, lot of dialogues. If you want to taste a little of the powers, privileges, problems, decisions, and responsibilities of a president, play Suzerain, but remember, at the end of the day, YOU CANNOT SATISFY EACH AND EVERY SIDE IN YOUR COUNTRY.