“Suzerain” by Torpor Games (Ata Sergey Nowak, Ilke Karademir, Ozgun Kilit, James Spence & Ipek Unal) & Fellow Traveller.

“As President Rayne, lead Sordland into ruin or repair in your first term. Navigate a political drama story driven by conversations with your cabinet members and other significant figures in a country with its own complicated history. Beware or embrace corruption; shirk or uphold ideals.”

I had the chance to play the press demo build of “Suzerain”, a game that mixes up the political simulation genre with interactive novels. Each decision you make will have an impact not only on the vital sectors of the partly fictional country Sordland like education, economy and military, but also quite often on your personal relationships to your family as well as to your fellow members of the government.

After many presidencies that did the country no good – corruption and scandals shaped the political climate -, Sordland is pretty low on money and international renown. You in your role as the new elected president Anton Rayne want to change that. However, thanks to the bad financial situation, your options are limited. Would you like to initiate an infrastructure program to connect the poorer regions to the main area to decline the social tensions or would you rather build a railway, so that the two economically strongest parts get an additional boost, hopefully rewarding all Sords eventually? You have to settle down on one project, as you cannot have both of them.

Reforming the constitution or establishing a new dictatorship? Controlling the media or protecting the freedom of speech? Will you have an open ear for your advisors or will you only trust your gut? Crushing the opposition or working together? Will you be a president of all Sords or only of the rich? All those questions can only be answered by yourself. However, remember that the consequences of your deeds will catch up with you sooner or later.

Sadly, the actual demo version does not show them so far, as it really is more of an atmospheric appetizer. I cannot understate how much I am already in love with “Suzerain”, though. The game offers a massive, detailed glossary about any person, region, country, historic event as well as important fraction. While it is optional to go through all of the well written texts, they help a lot to get in touch with the excellent worldbuilding. Also, the glossar helps you to quickly catch up with the references to our real world.

Just take the two world powers – one of them a communist nation called United Contana, the other one a capitalist counterpower with the name Arcasia – as an example. Both of them were in an ideological battle in the nineteen fifties, just some years after a global war. When you remember the actual meaning of the word “Suzerain” – “a dominant state controlling the foreign relations of a vassal state but allowing it sovereign authority in its internal affairs”, as Merriam-Webster formulates it – then you know where this is going.