Suzerain is a political strategy game that reminded me of the old Amiga game called ‘Conflict: The Middle East Political Simulator’. Both games focus on the decisions you make and the strategies you employ. Suzerain has a lot of merits for a political simulation game that players would expect out of this genre. Though this isn’t typically a style of game I enjoy, I found Suzerain to be rather engaging and interesting, although exhausting.
Gameplay in Suzerain
The first thing to note about Suzerain is that it is a choose your own adventure game. Every decision you make as President Rayne shapes your term. This game will hold your hand as you navigate meetings with Ministers, assess relations with neighboring countries, or interact with family. That said, it is a fully fleshed out and dense world. Most people will draw parallels to our current political structures since there are many issues that perpetuate over time. It just goes to show that political concerns in the 1950s do not differ from today.
Players go through a prologue which gives players a backstory. The choices made during the prologue are sometimes referred to at later points in the game. For example, one of Rayne’s Ministers was a former teacher of yours. Another Minister served with you under the Red Youth organization. That said, your initial ideas about countries or people will change. So, what you promised at the beginning might not hold true as you learn more about Sordland. These details bring players into the world of waring cities, economic crisis, and legal challenges.
I enjoyed the fact that Suzerain provides a codex of information. I spent a lot of time reading on all the cities and people, trying to decide what would be good for the country. After making key decisions and reading updates on various situations, the game will save and create an entry in the journal.
Most of the gameplay relies on taking notes and going through dialogue. Players can accept or deny new policies and even take bribes! There are plenty of decisions to make about the sort of Presidency you will have.
Suzerain is truly a cerebral experience that kept me interested, even though I am not well versed in the subject of politics.
Graphics and UI
There are subtle graphical additions to the game that really help players shape the country of Sordland. For one thing, the game doesn’t consist of white popup boxes with tiresome walls of text. Suzerain’s textboxes are interesting and dynamic. When one of the characters speaks, their portrait moves to the top of the box. One nice detail of the text boxes is when players click on a characters’ image, the codex will open with information.
On top of the small details, there are plenty of graphs and boxes of information boxes players can consult. On the right-hand side of the screen are two crucial tabs. The first is the codex which players can see all of the information surround Sordland and its players. The second is the journal which tracks players’ decisions.
There are several details that I enjoy like the ability to see Sordland’s map or the financial bar. Another nice addition is the news tab located at the top center of the screen. There are six different newspapers that range from far leftists to the far right. But no news outlet would be complete without a paper like the Radical which reminds me of our tabloid spinners.
Pros and Cons
- Very detailed world surrounding Sordland, drawing players into the story at the outset.
- Believable characters that have their own personality and adds to the game’s realism.
- Suzerain comes with a wealth of information about President Rayne’s country Sordland which is easily accessible.
- There is no timer on dialogue decisions or policy enactments which allows players to consult their notes.
- Thought-provoking title that made me consider the well being of others.
- Players don’t always know when the autosave occurs. On one computer, I had progressed turns but my at-home computer didn’t save the progress! I would like the ability to manually save.
- The textbox size cannot change.
- Suzerain gets heavy very quickly, making the game exhausting to play for extended periods of time.
- There doesn’t seem to be many opportunities to regain money spent.
- Citizen taxation isn’t an option in Suzerain which feels wrong in this type of game. Most games in this genre allow ways to adjust taxation in order to keep an economy going.
Suzerain is a political simulator that I actually enjoy, which is a rarity. I tend to put politics at the back of my mind. This game held my interest even though it parallels Turkey (see the Trivia section in the Suzerain’s Wiki page). Even though I list a few negative points, none of them change my positive impressions.
I’m glad I grabbed this title on a whim because I really enjoyed playing this turn-based political game – words I never thought I would type. Suzerain hooks players fairly early on with a complicated and intriguing. While I don’t feel like I make a huge impact overall, Suzerain has a few different endings.