Suzerain PC Review

The fate of a nation teeters between political ideologies.

By Fragnarok, Posted 08 Dec 2020

Suzerain is a text based political management game. Players take control of Anton Rayne and start by selecting his background, education, and early career. This includes his home province, social status, and university major. Regardless of where he ends up, a military coup erupts throughout the Sorland nation that affects every citizen. Players decide how Rayne waded out the crisis: through active protesting, joining human rights initiates, or quietly keeping a low profile. Rayne will eventually make good friends with fellow students Petr and Monica, the latter who Rayne will eventually marry. As the coup rages on, military officer Colonel Soll rises into power and ends the conflict, becoming president in the process. His reforms usher about a golden age for the economy, but bring along nationalist and xenophobic rhetoric. Soll stays in power for some time, but is eventually displaced by statesman Alphonso whom hires Rayne (based on whichever university degree previously chosen). Alphonso makes many rapid changes to Sorland that leads to modernization but also causes a recession. Rayne becomes the United Sorland Party’s favored next leader and manages to win the election, becoming the fourth President of Sorland along with Petr as Vice President. Now it is up to players to clean up the messes of Soll and Alphonso, while tackling even more challenges.


Suzerain|Fellow Traveler|Torpor Games|Steam
 

Suzerain drops players right into the middle of the action. Anton Rayne is already decades into his career and leading a major power on the Eastern Merkopa continent. It can be very overwhelming for players to know who anyone is or where places are. The game provides a full codex of world history, major figures, and organizations. Each topic directly links to other subjects, allowing those to easily jump from detailed page to page. Once briefed, players can then click on Sorland’s major cities to engage in meetings with different people. Gameplay will almost entirely consist of text boxes with dialogue selection. Players need to think about every decision they make, as the effects can linger for Rayne’s first term or even beyond. This is especially true due to Suzerain having a single auto save slot - all choices are permanent and any mistake will require restarting. 

Rayne’s Presidential campaign made several promises regarding the market, immigration, and ideology but it up to the player to uphold those during their term in office. Major concerns for the government budget can be allocated to education, welfare, the military, or law enforcement. But with just a small surplus only one or two of these can be improved, or conversely reduced to have more funds for later projects. Doing so may ease debt, but also cause stability issues down the road. Each member of Rayne’s cabinet expresses different opinions on each matter, with some overlap on issues. At times cabinet advisors will even lie to the President to gain favor or power. Players may find themselves in a heated debate where three or four advisors will continually argue with each other, leaving Rayne the final decision maker.
 

Suzerain|Fellow Traveler|Torpor Games|Steam


The larger government is divided among three major factions: the Old Guard that still believes in Soll’s vision, the Oligarchs comprised of the wealthy and globally influential, and the Reformists that want major change in Sorland. These factions are made up of many different political parties that control two different parts of the government body, the legislation and judiciary. Players will need to negotiate with these politicians for votes, alliances, or contributions. However, since all of them have separate agendas it is inevitable that Rayne will make at least one or more major enemies through their policies. This can go as far as coercion, bribery, deception, smear tactics, and other forms of underhanded corruption.

If the politics of the national capital weren’t enough, Rayne must also be concerned with Sorland’s seven provinces and neighboring countries. Each local statesman or mayor wants direct funding to strengthen their own local power, while having ideals about tradition versus progressiveness. But the President may be more focused on the nearby foreign powers. Sorland is bordered by financially prosperous Agnolia, warmongering Rumburg, fractured Wehlen, socially unequal Lespia, and reformed Valgsland. Two other far off super powers include the capitalist Arcasia and communist United Contana. All of these powers have their own alliances and squabbles which players can take advantage of. But doing so may have major ramifications like trade tariffs, protests, war, or grounds for impeachment.


Suzerain|Fellow Traveler|Torpor Games|Steam


Not only must the player manage the country, but also Rayne’s personal time. What he consumes (food, alcohol, tobacco), in whose company, and how often can have minor changes overtime. Rayne’s relationship with the First Family can be greatly improved or diminished with each decision. Listening to, supporting, or even chastising Monica can alter her own ambitions or even lead to divorce. Rayne’s eldest son Franc is at the tail end of high school and his designated college can be a major factor on his future beliefs. Additionally, with such close ties to Petr players may need to look out for the Vice President (and potentially maintain or expose his secrets). To improve his own standing and those of his loved ones, Rayne has his own personal wealth that players can manage to make investments or spend on luxuries. But, citizens and those in power may come to criticize Rayne or his family for their choices and opinions; this can affect approval and a shot at a second term. Once again players must decide to either hold their ground, renege, or find a compromise.

Overall, Suzerain’s four chapters can be completed in just a few hours. With so many choices the fate of Rayne, his family, Sorland, and other nations can be drastically different. While a single journey might be an interesting tale, what makes Suzerain compelling is the varying personalities of Anton Rayne. To get the most out of the game, players should play several campaigns with wildly different strategies and outcomes. Sorland will never be a perfect utopia and will always manage to have some kind of glaring flaw. One version of Sorland may be a crime infested corporate haven, another an uneducated police state, and yet another borderless but ravaged by spies and disease. Those looking for an engaging and twisting narrative and don’t care about flashy presentation should purchase Suzerain.

Kurtis Seid, NoobFeed
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General Information

Suzerain

75/100

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Fellow Traveller
Developer(s): Torpor Games
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: Text-Based, Political, Adventure
Release Date: 2020-12-04

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