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Suzerain

Game evaluation

03.05.2021

To finally do everything better as the president of a country - that is the aim of this political simulation. However, virtual governance also has its pitfalls, so that the perfect state can hardly be made in Suzerain.
The tension in the session of Parliament is almost unbearable. The votes of the MPs are only slowly being counted. It is about nothing less than the historical change of the aging constitution. The result is finally here and President Anton Rayne can breathe a sigh of relief: his constitutional reform has just achieved the necessary 2/3 majority and thus heralds a new democratic age. However, the president does not have much time to celebrate: His disappointed wife Monica is waiting for him at home, whose plans for more women's rights he sacrificed for the votes of the conservatives. In addition, the powerful oligarchs are not happy about the restriction of their economic and political power by the new constitution. These conflicts are already threatening to undo what has just been achieved.

At the beginning, we determine the main character's previous résumé.


Such experiences are typical for the gameplay of "Suzerain", which was published in December 2020 by the Berlin indie developer studio "Torpor Games". The players slip into the role of President Anton Rayne, who was elected to head the fictional state of Sordland in the early 1950s. The tasks facing the new head of state are not easy: the country is caught in a severe economic crisis, ethnic groups that have been oppressed for decades have been demanding equality and the old elites oppose any reform of the corrupt and inefficient system. As if that weren't enough, the region, which is based on Central Europe, was split between East and West during the Cold War, while a neighboring country in Sordland is already gathering troops at the border to forcibly annex disputed regions if necessary. In this difficult situation, it depends entirely on the decisions of the players whether the citizens of Sordland can hope for a bright future or whether the country falls apart under the pressure of the ongoing crises.

The election promises become important as the game progresses as the population remembers them.


Unlike in classic strategy games or political simulations, the players in "Suzerain" do not control any units, do not set values ​​using sliders and do not control the development of individual cities using micromanagement. Instead, decisions are made in discussions with ministers, business representatives and even the character's family. On an overview map of the entire region, the players are kept up to date on current developments and choose the next meeting - it usually does not matter which of the displayed events are dealt with first, as the game largely dictates the course. "Suzerain" is therefore more of an interactive political thriller than a strategy game. The strategy game genre is characterized by long-term challenges that can aim at building a sports club, an economic empire or an entire civilization, for example. Strategy games are often turn-based and, like chess, require several moves to think ahead or a simulation. Instead of paying attention to abstract numbers or comparing values ​​of units, the players experience the story of Anton Rayne and his family, allies and enemies.

Various events and information are displayed on the map of the region.


The game introduces the main character's life with a short prologue. Faded-in texts lead from Rayne's year of birth 1908 through the history of Sordland, the fall of the monarchy, the civil war and the emergence of the republic. At certain points the players can determine, for example, whether Rayne comes from a poor or rich family or whether he sided with himself during the civil war or remained neutral. With a figure developed in this way, the actual game begins on the day of the swearing-in as the new president. Bit by bit, the players get to know Sordland, the central players and the neighboring states. There is also extensive information about all of this in a detailed encyclopedia, which can be accessed at any time. The game - which is currently only available in English - is very text-heavy. All events and decisions are presented in mostly long texts and the card is more decoration than functional game content.

The decisions are made in conversations with other characters.


As part of the conversations and events, players can choose from various options, with previous decisions affecting which options are available. Instead of just informing Rayne, however, the characters of the game, i.e. the ministers or business representatives, try to actively influence the decisions of the president. For example, the Minister of Economics prefers an extremely liberal market economy, while the Minister of Education speaks out in favor of introducing socialism in Sordland. Each character thus pursues its own agenda, which is not always obvious at first glance. After around 12 hours of play, most should start more attempts to experience all facets of the game and several of the numerous endings that are possible for Sordland and its president.