Shady Part of Me - XB1 Review

Shady Part of Me by developer Douze Dixièmes and publisher Focus Home InteractiveMicrosoft Xbox One review written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Just as things were about to wind down for the year, something hit my desk allowing me to end what’s been a horrible year all around on a high note reviewing wise as many of us head back into various states of lockdown for the holidays. Developed by Douze Dixièmes and published by Focus Home Interactive, Shady Part of Me is an emotional tale that I found myself easily relating to as you explore the world with two sides of a person both through the light and the darkness where one cannot move forward without the other.

It would be easy enough to say that Shady Part of Me is a great puzzle platformer and then leave it at that. Graphically, you have two separate presentations starting with a 2D shadow-like platformer which is then mixed into 3D environments that act as their own puzzles. Keeping things interesting, what is done in one affects the other. Mechanically, everything is responsive and instead of lives or health, if you make a mistake, if you fail, you can simply rewind until you get it right. On top of both of these aspects there's an incredible music score that only amplified the emotions being conveyed by the scenery and the narrative. Like I said, I would be easy but it would also be a disservice.

More than the sum of its parts, Shady Part of Me walks a fine line between gameplay and presentation. Clocking in around four to six hours for a full gamerscore or platinum trophy depending on your system, this is one experience where you'll find yourself heading out of your way at times for the collectibles which are origami birds within both the realms of light and shadows. Other than making murals as you uncover the pieces, these birds will often prompt additional dialog from a third party causing reactions in your protagonists or simply giving you a potential to additional context based off of your own conclusions. 

Having found this blend of gameplay, Douze Dixièmes have found an almost perfect marriage of gameplay to cater to both those that play through something and move on, and those that will search every nook and cranny to find that one last collectible. I’m generally not one for going back and looking for everything, but when it adds in more context and is more than just there for the purpose of trophies / bragging rights, I am more than willing to put the time in.

On that subject, the time that I did put into Shady Part of Me is time that will stay with me for a good deal of time. Yes it was fun, yes it was atmospherically pleasing with the various musical scores that meshed perfectly with the backgrounds, but it’s the “why” that really stood out. Mental Health, Anxiety, Stress, Panic Attacks, feeling like the world is watching and that weight is crushing you, and just simply not knowing how to deal with everything because life that day, week, year, decided to deal you a bad hand. Read that again, and don’t take a pause, run out of breath, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Not everyone will go through this, a lot of people will never understand this and in a way I hope they don’t, but those that have, those that still do, know what I mean and know that it’s hard to put into words.

So it’s through this adventure, that I finally saw a representation of what it’s like to go through these moments that I’ve never been good at putting into words. I’ve been through it, I’ve been dealt a bad hand years ago and I still have my moments. I know it’s anything but easy and asking for help is even harder as no one likes to admit they need it especially with the stigma that comes with admitting it. So it’s through these challenges and through this fictional world where fantasy meets reality that these two souls need to rely on one another to reach the exit that they’ve been searching for, and through their conversations that I finally saw it put into words. The words of the rational mind trying to reach the irrational feeling that just won’t leave and sometimes crash into the rational like a tidal wave making you feel like you're drowning.

All of this said, it’s how these emotions are meshed in with the musical scores in the background, it’s how these feelings are meshed into the scenery, and finally it’s how these feelings are conveyed as a challenge to overcome as continuously taking steps forward that make it work. No, it’s not that easy as taking a step forward, many days are steps backwards, but, if you were to condense the process, this is what the start of healing looks like.

On a final note, Shady Part of Me should have been on my Game of the Year list but with how late it was released, it sadly won’t be making it as I quite literally got to experience this tale this past weekend. It’s not a very long adventure, but it packs a punch both from the visuals and the musical score, to the emotions coming through both of your protagonists as they try to find the exit that they’ve been searching for together.

Score: 9.5 / 10


Empire of Sin - PC Review

Empire of Sin by developer Romero Games and publisher Paradox InteractivePC (Steam) review written by Susan N. with a copy provided by the publisher.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes 

Empire of Sin is a turn-based game similar to XCOM but is set in the 1920's when prohibition was a thing. Player's move to the city of Chicago in search of creating a new empire by building brothels, speakeasies, and casinos. The characters you can play and encounter are exciting and unique, making the game intriguing. However, Empire of Sin released with several issues and launched too early. Let's dive into the details.


Since I was given the option, I played the big dog himself. The legendary Al Capone, though he is only one option out of about fourteen. He's the most notorious mobster in history. I figured, why not? After choosing Capone, I entered a cutscene where I'm entering Chicago. This is how the story begins. First, we have to hire a couple of people.

The tutorial of the game introduces players to all aspects of Empire of Sin. It has character skill trees, business management, and turn-based combat. But if you think that is all you have to deal with, you'd be wrong. Players also have to pay attention to the rival mobsters and their relationships with others. They're also tasked with procuring money through various means. It doesn't take long before the deals you make will drastically hinder your survival rate. I know this because during my first playthrough, I allied with two rivaling mobsters. As a result, I was attacked by one of the most powerful people in the city. But, if you play your cards right, your playthrough won't murder your hopes and dreams quite that quickly.

That said, I really enjoyed the depth of the characters' witty and unique personalities. Empire management is quite detailed and consumes a chunk of gameplay time. Players can upgrade their security and aesthetics, change their alcohol type, and research rival mobsters. There were large blocks of time devoted to upgrading buildings and strategizing my next move.


The meat and potatoes of Empire of Sin is the combat, but it's also the least appealing aspect of the game. Not only are buildings lackluster because the layouts are generic, but your squad will stand in tactically disadvantaged locations. Furthermore, the crew formation can't be changed, even if you ambush a building.

My dreams of ransacking buildings strategically were repeatedly sidelined as bosses initiated sitdowns and began fights. Your buildings have a small number of guards to defend while you are out and about. Unfortunately, you have to control those fights instead of focusing on having money to increase your empire. Very few aspects are automated in the Empire of Sin. On top of that, it felt like the combat was too frequent and gameplay was too slow, forcing players to have little cash. In fact, there is no change in movement speed, no dialogue skip option (ever), and no downtime to handle your affairs.

In the failed playthrough, I had barely made it out of the tutorial before the Donovans went to war with me. On the streets, my security team was outnumbered and at my safehouse, I died to fourteen gang members! Let us not forget that these fights often drew the attention of close-by police officers. In short, the difficulty of the game ramps up quickly in some playthroughs.

Graphics and UI

The graphics in Empire of Sin are fantastic. The ambiance created by the music and the theme helps to make for a realistic atmosphere of the 1920s. The city is dynamic, filled with characters that react to everything around them. Characters on the street will step to the side when they are on the same path as another and they will duck for cover when a gunfight breaks out. The downside to this aspect is during combat where those characters take up advantageous positions.

The buildings themselves will reflect what services it provides. Speakeasies are bars, casinos are gambling establishments, and brothels are adult entertainment locations. But they are all fairly generic in terms of combat. The brewery before it is taken over is rundown, with fading exposed brick and kegs strew about. Because basic template layout for each building, even with the seemingly random locations of the barrels, combat becomes predictable.

However, while I do like the aesthetics in this game, Empire of Sin has graphical and UI issues. For one thing, there are times where characters stand inside an asset. When they move locations, the asset often remains. Another issue I have is the game's inability to recognize mouse clicks. This meant that my crew would move until obstructed and then get stuck there. Sometimes movement would be negated by the autosaving feature, which caused unnecessary street fights. Thirdly, the UI is complex. Finding the screen to change alcohol types seemed to be difficult to find. There are so many windows to go through that it makes gameplay cumbersome.

Empire of Sin is beautiful but it has some bugs to iron out, as well as other elements that I discussed above.

Audio and Music

One of my favorite elements of the Empire of Sin is the audio. First, the voice acting for each mobster is well done. I even appreciated the little comments like 'asshole' as characters moved into position during combat. Mobsters were voiced appropriately without too much emphasis on stereotypes. The Irish man was not constantly drinking alcohol and the Hispanic woman wasn't dropping random Spanish words in half of the dialogue. In short, the accent of the characters told more about the people than familiar dialogue phrases.

Secondly, the music in Empire of Sin is brilliant. I absolutely adored the classical feel and sound. The music is upbeat and exciting. It brought joy to my heart in a way that modern-day music fails to accomplish. (Despite my listening to a wide range of music.) In fact, when upgrading the aesthetics of a specific racket, a band will appear on a small stage. It's little details like this that catch my attention, on top of the cheerful swing music.

Pros and Cons of Empire of Sin


  • Empire of Sin keeps players on their toes since your Speakeasies, Breweries, and Brothels are regularly attacked or sabotage.

  • There are lots of things to do like choosing talents, upgrading weapons, and managing your empire.

  • Some of the dialogue of the other mob bosses are highly entertaining. It was my favorite part of the game.

  • Excellent 1920's soundtrack and aesthetics.


  • The graphics are glitchy at times. Sometimes in combat, players will stand in assets.

  • Even though I played through the tutorial on another computer, Steam Cloud did not think so. I ended up doing the tutorial twice on account of that.

  • The third run-through occurred because I saved my game and when I loaded it the following day it crashed, killing my save file.

  • There is no skip through dialogue when you've had to reload the game.

  • Empire of Sin does not have multiple speeds. Every action is done in real-time.

  • The answers players can give are largely the same. We could use some variety.

  • Pedestrians and Bystandards often duck for cover when a firefight breaks out and as such, they take up the square.

  • No variety in maps, which makes gameplay very predictable and easy.

  • Sometimes I would be notified of changing preferred alcohol types multiple times.

  • One or two of my save files would appear in the list but didn't contain data.

Final Thoughts

Empire of Sin is a fun and lowkey turn-based tactics game that I really enjoyed, but unfortunately, there were just too many issues that grated on my nerves. Some of those issues were graphical, some were notification issues, and others stemmed from bad or corrupted save files. If the developers let the alcohol ferment longer, Empire of Sin might have been a boss of a title. Sadly, it feels like wine that isn't quite ready to be sold. And while the empire management and character leveling gave me an immersive experience, there was just too much packed into Empire of Sin. It's almost like the developers bit off more than they could chew.

Despite the game issues, I had a fun time managing my empire, making deals with other bosses, and laughing at the discourse between people. Sure, the combat was weird at times, but it's not really difficult. And even though I played Empire of Sin for a decent amount of time, I can't in good conscience rate it very high. It needs some more time to hammer out the bugs and give players a few more options - or breathing room. Overall, I give this title a 7 out of 10.

Score: 7 / 10


Per Aspera - PC Review

Per Aspera by developer Tlön Industries and publisher Raw FuryPC (Steam) review written by Susan N. with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Per Aspera is a management simulation that reminds me of Surviving Mars in a lot of ways. It is rather engaging through self-reflection and regular engagement with other characters. The longer I played, the more I wanted to find out more. And like most games published by Raw Fury, I genuinely enjoy this title.


You play an AMI who is tasked with a mission to terraform Mars by the ISA. The objective is to prepare the planet for human colonization but you learn that this has been tried before.

Players must first build a few structures before the planet is habitable enough to sustain human life. The first of these tasks is to raise the planet's core temperature to -50 degrees or higher. Successfully accomplishing this task will melt ice caps that will create pools of water. Like any game that terraforms planets to suit human survival, it isn't without consequence.

As players unlock more buildings and upgrades through the tech tree, they will be able to progress the story. In Per Aspera, players will receive communications from Nathan Foster and Dr. Elya Valentine. These characters will call you at regular intervals to give status reports or valuable insight about your mission. As time progresses, an anomaly disrupts your power grid. This is when players discover that they are not alone. I lost several buildings from a couple of attack waves because I wasn't prepared for the assault. (Whoops!) That said, the combat is an afterthought. Don't expect a Civilization battle style.

Yeah. Needless to say, I'm invested in Per Aspera.

Per Aspera Graphics and UI

For a colony management game, I'm surprised at how clean Per Aspera looks. Right from the beginning of the game, players can see what resources are available to them. The resource bar expands after new technology is researched. At a glance, players can see all of the information they need about their colony without looking through menus. Though I do wish the information was displayed separately if there are multiple unconnected grids.

Of course, no colony management game is complete without nifty information screens. Per Aspera displays vital information through a couple of different overlays. Players are able to click on one of the F keys (or buttons at the top) to display information about the traffic, electricity, or maintenance levels of the colony.

I also really liked the orbital view for a couple of reasons. The first is that players can still see their colony information because it doesn't disappear. The second part that I like is just the ability to see sectors clearly. From the orbital view, players are also able to see incoming or outgoing shuttles filled with colonists.

Overall, I like the sleek design in the graphics regardless of if they are on the planet or in orbit. It is designed with user-friendliness in mind. Not only that but it manages to feel like a science-fiction world in its simplicity.

Voice Acting and Audio

I was surprised to learn of the voice acting talent in Per Aspera. Most people know Troy Baker but, for those who don't know his work, check out this link. Of his massive list of credits is Joel from The Last of Us Part II and Bruce Banner in Marvel's Avengers. In Per Aspera, he is Nathan Foster, the main liaison between Mars and Earth.

There are other notable names like Laila Berzins who voices AMI, the A.I. that you play. She also voices Xiao of Genshin Impact as well as Demeter / Persephone in Hades.

Phil LaMarr is a legendary voice actor known for his work on Mad TV, Harley Quinn, Rick and Morty, and Futurama. His portfolio of works can be found here. He plays Lieutenant Calderon, the ISA's Chief Technologist.

The biggest shock for me was YongYea, a YouTube content creator that covers gaming news, reviews, and discussions. While many know him through YouTube with 1.5 million subscribers or his 100k followers on Twitter, he has a fledgling list of acting credits. In Per Aspera, YongYea voices the character Nian Zhen, a wealthy businessman. Among his other credits are Loki in Rune II and Ven in Warframe: Proteus.

Lynsey Murrell is an actress with a couple of voice acting credits. She plays Dr. Elya Valentine, the first colonist leader, with whom you frequently interact. Lynsey also plays roles in Undergods but according to this Steam page, she will be voicing a character in the upcoming Baldur's Gate!

Nneka Okoye voices Sonna Valentine, the daughter of Dr. Elya Valentine. Neeka is known for multiple roles in TV series like The A List and Defending the Guilty. She has recently voiced a couple of characters in the game Beyond a Steel Sky.

Pros and Cons


  • Per Aspera is good at engaging players with AMI's self-reflection dialogue and regular communications with other characters.

  • The tutorial doesn't barrage players with too much. It releases buildings gradually for players to use.

  • The foreign creatures attacking create a good sense of urgency for the overall mission.


  • There is no display to show separate landing sites.

  • Sometimes gameplay is a bit sluggish when in the mid-game.

  • Upgrading individual connections between buildings is cumbersome. We don't need *that* much micromanagement.

  • I personally disliked using the orbital view to assign a task to a spaceport.

  • I would love to start with more than one drone. The beginning took a while.

Final Thoughts

Per Aspera is a fantastically designed game and I loved everything from the graphics to the music to the overlays. While the gameplay sometimes felt sluggish (even at 8 times speed), there's a sense of urgency. I found myself blissfully unaware of the passage of time. Because of the intriguing story, smooth graphics, and masterful voice acting, Per Aspera is leagues ahead of other games in this genre. It's not without its flaws, but in my opinion, this game is worth the price.

Overall, I really love Per Aspera. It is a fantastic game that keeps players on their toes. Unlike other colony builders, players feel a connection to the colonists and to the mission. It is a spectacular game like no other and I absolutely adore it. Per Aspera has amazing audio and voice acting that are well suited to the title and I can't get enough of it! For me, there are some minor UI issues, but I give Per Aspera a 9 out of 10. Do yourselves a favor and buy it now. Take out the weird aliens. The mission depends on it!

Score: 9 / 10


StartUp Panic - PC Review

StartUp Panic by developer AlgoRocks and publisher TinyBuild GamesPC (Steam) review written by Susan N. with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

StartUp Panic is a simulation game that lets players launch a tech business. Our character quits their crappy job, to embark on their entrepreneurship journey. But this is only the beginning.

My character begins her journey from her home computer. I decided to take on odd jobs so that I had a financial buffer. Once I started my business, I fell quickly in love with StartUp Panic, because of its nods to the beginning of the tech boom. I'm talking about a familiar and trusty paperclip - our helper in Microsoft Word. 'Clippy' would explain how to use different features as it recognized input patterns. While many may have blissfully forgotten about 'Clippy' from Office 97, I appreciated this addition.

Some players might have stopped there, having remembered the early days of computing before Microsoft employed malware-like practices in the launch of Windows 10 - but I digress. The memories of Clippy and the simpler times made me appreciate StartUp Panic.

StartUp Panic Gameplay

StartUp Panic is an indie management simulator that amused me. My amusement stems from the subtle nods to things I grew up with. I absolutely adore this title even though I find it boring over time - which in no way speaks to the overall score. But, I can only handle so much of a management game before I am bored.

The game has a couple of levels of strategies that players need to pay attention to. At the outset, it is important to work on odd jobs to make money. These vary in difficulty as you hire more employees and allow for players to turn a profit even if your company is in the red for a time.

An important aspect to pay attention to is the rating your company has in each of the features developed. So, if your rating in the tech tree is less than 6 points, then you’re company is spending more money on maintenance than it is bringing in. For players to make a profit each month, they will need to make sure each feature is profitable. Sometimes this means hiring or training more people with higher skills to do a post-mortem on their features.

Another big thing that players need to be mindful of is the international standing of their application. On the top left of the screen is a globe that players can click on which allows players to conduct market research. Important information about demographics, preferred marketing methods, and total population will be displayed here. Having this information is key to your marketing strategy, which is crucial to pleasing your investors! Another useful benefit is that it also displays the market share of your competitors. When you beat out the first competitor, Johan Allberg, you will have a bigger fish to fry.

StartUp Panic List for Success

  1. Take on odd jobs to keep a positive financial balance

  2. Market your product in other countries

  3. Make deals with investors and stay out of debt

  4. Advance your services in the tech tree

  5. Manage character salaries and stress levels

  6. Manage employee vacation time and train them

  7. Upgrade the office with shinies!

  8. Buy traits to cut costs and provide extra perks

  9. Don't get kidnapped!

When a player takes on new contracts for cash or when they are developing new features on their app, a popup will present itself. On this popup will be three bars that represent Technology, Usability, and Aesthetics. The employees you assign to a job should have high enough stats to fulfill the requirements of the task. For example, using an employee with a high score in technology will not be useful to a t-shirt design job. When players are working on their own app, they will have to be mindful of what stats are most beneficial to the task. Regardless of the total stats, the sliding bars have to equal 100%. This does not change despite the number of workers nor the stat level. Those two aspects will help the overall success rate of the task but don’t change the difficulty level for the player.

Graphics and UI

StartUp Panic is an indie game that is well done. It has a realistic feel without too much focus on graphical fidelity. If I were to scale StartUp Panic like we do in-game, I’d devote 45% Technology, 35% Usability, and 20% to Aesthetics.

Players must use all the icons to gather information and graphs about their company and its rivals. There is a tech tree, a trait tree, and a decent amount of micro-management. One of the useful elements in StartUp Panic is the international map. So long as players have a rough idea of the population size and country location, they can aim their marketing to those areas. And because information and options are placed under menus, the UI is minimalistic. If players want to access the vacation option, they have to click the employee menu, then the employee list. In my opinion, it would be easier to have a popup on the individual characters

Algorocks cleverly placed several nods in StartUp panic from the Windows 95 era right up to the present day. I like some of the graphical choices in StartUp Panic like the cat that sporadically pops out of the filing cabinet or the computers that display images. Sometimes the computer will look similar to Adobe Photoshop and one is the old blue screen of death! It’s little details like these that I genuinely enjoy about this title.

Final Thoughts

StartUp Panic had me smiling from ear to ear for multiple reasons. Apart from the nods to the old version of Windows and the references to Clippy going on a date with ‘Seri’, I found another reason to be happy about this title. Early on players are introduced to a musician named AIYU. I was ecstatic at the reference of a real Japanese star in StartUp Panic. I have no idea if this was a deliberate choice but AYU, the shortened name for Ayumi Hamasaki, is a famous Jpop artist. She has released 17 studio albums, several live albums, and over twenty remix albums. This addition definitely increased my enjoyment of StartUp Panic. I was invested in this title - playing it longer than I would normally devote to a management simulator.

StartUp Panic certainly has its charm, but I personally found myself bored over time. Once you know the system of the game, it isn’t too difficult to keep yourself in the green. I would love to have had rejected investors cause more problems (depending on their status / position) or something a little more challenging. As such, I give StartUp Panic an 8 out of 10. It has a lot of merits and plenty of fun for a few hours, but there isn’t a ton of challenge or replayability, in my opinion. Its predictability became a bit of a hindrance even though it's a fantastic game.

Score: 8 / 10


Swords of Gargantua - PS4 / PSVR Review

Swords of Gargantua by developer Thirdverse Inc and publisher gumi Inc.Sony PlayStation VR review written by Nick with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Swords of Gargantua is one of those games I was holding out a lot of hope for, because if there’s a single activity in VR that I get excited about – it’s anything to do with swords. I’m a big fan of fantasy, so I’ll take a sword over a gun in gaming almost every time. It is one of those experiences that has a ton of potential in VR, but the premise still needs to be executed on well and put into an engaging game. Swords of Gargantua manages to get parts of this right, but the whole just never really came together for me.

Things kick off rather well, with a rather lengthy narrative introduction. The story that is teased had potential, as it details a god-like arena putting you against a variety of different creatures. There is some excellent imagery in the beginning, but most of it dissipates once you actually start to play. The story never really goes anywhere from there, and instead you’re left in what amounts to an arena / horde / wave game where you take on numerous enemies without really looping back to that initial teased narrative.

The actual gameplay mostly sees you walking around a large arena, engaging in enemies as they appear to challenge you. The idea of blocking, swinging – all of this plays into the game’s visuals and surprisingly solid control scheme. The weapons at times seem a bit floaty, but honestly this is not meant to be an authentic sword fighting simulation as it has several elements such as powering up your weapon over time and temporarily boost it. The tracking however, was sometimes literally hit and miss for me. There were times I clearly felt like there should have been a collision of weapons / shield / body that did not occur.

Thankfully this was more the exception than the rule, but it was sometimes frustration when it happened. It should also be noted that you need a decent bit of room to play as well as you will be swinging your arms about. One nice design choice by the devs that I want to call out is the way they dim / blacken the edges of the screen when you’re moving. It helps to reduce the potential for motion sickness, which is not something I normally get – but you can turn that option off and I did to try it out. I found myself not necessarily nauseous – but it was more comfortable leaving it on, at least for myself.

There is a decent variety of enemies, some of which are more interesting and challenging to engage with than others, but they do help to keep combat somewhat fresh. During stages, there are basically a couple of modes of play. You either have to find and eliminate all of your enemies in the stage or there is a defend the tower variant as well. A few more modes / objectives (perhaps capture-the-flag-like, or something involving resources and construction) would have added more to the actual gameplay and sense of progression. Instead the initially entertaining gameplay gives way to a good deal of repetition after a couple of hours.

There are different weapons that can be earned throughout the game, and while there is a solid visual variety. I would have liked to have seen more, or some sort of an experience / upgrade system to provide a slightly better carrot to dangle as part of the progression to stay engaged. One-handed, two-handed, shields, sword, mace - there are some option here. In the end though, the actual weapons seldom felt all that different from one another when in use, and it came away feeling more cosmetic than impactful.

There is a multiplayer component that lets you work with others in the arena. I don’t tend to lean into multiplayer a lot, but even so struggled to find others to play with during my time with the game. They are out there, and mechanically speaking it is all fine with voice chat that allows you to communicate effectively while you hack your way through the enemy legions.

Lastly, the presentation is solid if unspectacular. Music and sound effects are generally fitting, if not overly memorable. Visually the different weapons and enemies are well represented, but the environments are someone lacking. I suppose that should be expected given the nature of the arena setting, and I suppose this gets back to the beginning where I thought the development team did a pretty good job setting the stage with its initial scenes, but gave me little else in terms of variety for both the story and the visuals.


Swords of Gargantua is one of those games that feels like a missed opportunity. There is some solid potential to have an interesting story, but the narrative bits never really develop. I am a pretty easy sell on the idea of a VR melee combat game, and to its credit Swords of Gargantua handles pretty well the majority of the time, but there just is not much reason to continue playing after awhile. Progression is shallow and the gameplay really never develops in a meaningful way.

Swords of Gargantua is a perfectly adequate game without a lot of incentive to keep coming back for more. It's a perfectly average VR experience, but I had hoped for a bit more.

Score: 5.5 / 10


Suzerain - PC Review

Suzerain by developer Torpor Games and publisher Fellow TravellerPC (Steam) review written by Susan N. with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Suzerain is a fantastic political simulator that illustrates the complexity of ruling a country. It is a very clean game with plenty of intrigue to keep players interested, just like in real-world politics. I had a great time playing a President and learning about Sordland. Despite my issues with the auto-saving not registering, I give Suzerain an 8 out of 10. Don't let this title fool you into thinking it's easy to reform ideas or preventing civil war. So, don't sleep on Suzerain because the country of Sordland needs you!

Score: 8 / 10


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