Our score: 8.5/10
Have you ever wanted to know what it would be like to be a president? Probably not considering recent times, but I’m here to tell you that Suzerain is a really amazing political simulation game where you are the president of Sordland, Presdient Rayne, and you’re in charge of making all the hard decisions. This game is not perfect by any means, but it certainly has the most well-crafted world-building and lore I’ve seen in a video game.
The game is split into distinct chapters, and within these chapters you have Turns, where a large period of time passes. You make several decisions each Turn such as choosing whether or not to sign certain bills.
When you talk to characters, you can make them verbal promises, but if you don’t do what they want I guarantee they will return later on and they’re going to be angry! For instance, if you wanted to reduce immigration into your country, you bet the leaders of the neighboring countries will be mad.
Although there’s no voice acting, there is a lot of written content within the game. It’s NOT an RTS game, it’s actually plays like a Western visual novel or perhaps even an old text adventure game you’d see on the DOS. You get hundreds interactions with characters through lengthy conversations, so if you’re looking for an action game, this just won’t be the game for you.
The exposition of this game is powerful, and your choices can have dire consequences if you’re not paying attention. For instance, my heart was pounding during the early-game, when I was dealing with a terrorist attack and had to protect my family.
This is not meant to be a game with amazing action or graphics. If you’re a fan of visual novels or text adventure games and want to learn what it’d be like in the life of a president, this game is for you, there is no high fantasy in this game and it was also clear that they made up fictitious names for companies and organizations in real-life because they don’t want to upset people or companies in real-life.
If you can read between the lines and get these real-life references, you’ll have even more fun playing through the game, such as Lucian relaying to me that someone said “Bless the rains down in Africa”.
This game has the best interface of a visual novel I’ve ever seen. Instead of flipping through multiple screens, everything can just be accessed from one screen, so no need to fiddle through dozens of complicated menus! You can easily access your Codex, which describes locations, historical events, and character information on the right-hand side of the screen at any time without disrupting what you’re currently doing.
Let’s say you’re in a very important meeting with the CEOs from the Big Four companies in your country, you can easily access your Codex to get information on the CEOs and their corporations during the meeting so that you can make a well-informed decision.
At first, I will admit I was extremely overwhelmed with all the locations, people, and companies the game was shoving down my throat, BUT, after the first hour or so, I read through the codex and met with many influential people, and started to get a feel for all of it. The game purposely puts you in a difficult situation where there is a recession, but over time you learn how to fit into the role as president and get better at doing your job over time.
You can make many decisions throughout the game, probably about 100 major decisions spread throughout the game’s Turns, and I can easily say that every one of those decisions were hard to make. The game has a brilliant prologue that introduces the country, its organizations, and its history as your character ages from a child to an adult.
Many of your character’s experiences in the prologue are references later in the game and if you pay careful attention you will be rewarded for it. As well, if you pay attention to the lore of the game you will do well. I had one scene in the game where I had to perform a religion for the Bluts, a minority people in my country who practice their own religion.
I did not do their ritual steps correctly, and actually got kicked out of their region! Tensions just kept building up, with Blut terrorists kidnapping members of parliament and me creating a police state to get rid of them! The choices you make are extremely detailed and involved!
Just a few of the many decisions you will be making over the course of the game include reforming the constitution, removing presidential powers, advancing women’s education, removing conscription, and choosing to fund or defund hospitals, police and schools. Some of the characters you deal with include all of your ministers, your vice president, as well as big CEOs.
It’s just like Game of Thrones, most characters will only have their own interests at heart and you need to use all the information you’re given to try to make well-informed decisions. You also have a family you interact with such as your wife, the First Lady of the House, who wants to advance women’s education in a time period where women are forced to learn cooking and knitting instead of learning science. I actually helped her to become a world-renowned women’s rights leader, to the point where characters were calling me “Monica Rayne’s husband!” You also have a son and daughter and you can help them out with their issues through your decisions.
I learnt a lot from playing this game, it’s very realistic and a lot of effort was put into the world-building. Your country is surrounding by many other countries, some small and some big, and you have to cooperate with them to prevent war and make trade agreements.
There are even military alliances consisting of multiple countries and intergovernmental organizations, which have bigger countries that can help your country at the expense of you being forced to help when pone of the other countries in the alliance are attacked.
One funny option was to purposely give a dog as a gift to a president who was afraid of dogs! But I wasn’t gutsy enough to do it, unfortunately!
If you’re worried about the game being repetitive, that is simply not the case. The game keeps escalating, to the point where I’d have to deal with politics from other, bigger countries such as an airplane getting shot down that was still on our side of the border, but there being nothing I could do about it because the other country was a global superpower who would be able to crush my country instantly. The game continues to build up in tension until its satisfying conclusion.
For me, the game was completed in 7 hours, but it may be possible that your playtime varies significantly based on your reading speed and possibly depending on your ending to the game.
I got the bad ending, but like the prologue in the beginning the epilogue had many choices that would affect the ending. When I was near the endgame, I almost was in tears when I did a speech, going through all of the bills I had passed.
Though unfortunately, the game is a bit tricky if you’re not used to playing these kinds of games, and I had several ministers resign and even multiple scandals that could’ve been handled far better. Symon told me that I turned the recession into a depression…
But, it was great to see a game not afraid to pull its punches! Your consequences are real and dire! I definitely got a bad ending, but there were many great choices in the epilogue that made it feel bittersweet. If I were to replay the game again, it’d probably be much easier to get a better ending and make the correct choices.
Looking at the achievements, there are a lot of decisions you can make that will significantly alter the storyline of the game, some good and some bad, so the game has substantial replayability, as shown below which is just one of the choices screens out of the many present in the game.
Although it’s just a text adventure, there were many emotional moments and parts where I was gritting my teeth. The choices I had to make in this game were some of the toughest I’ve ever had to make in a game.
I’ve never seen a game of this kind before, these kinds of games are usually RTS games or were text adventure games from the old days, so it was very pleasant to be able to read great lore and world-building in a modern visual novel style and also be able to make decisions impacting the story. All-in-all, it was a very terrific experience to play through Suzerain and we give it an 8.5/10. Will you…make Sordland great again?