Suzerain: A Steam Review

Suzerain is a fairly interesting government simulation, indie RPG that was developed by Torpor Games and published by Fellow Traveller. Released on the 4th of December in 2020, the game gained mostly positive feedback via Metacritic. However, while I loved the story of the game I did find the overall game lacking and not very interactive when it came to the gameplay. Of the few simulation games I have played, this simulation game had very little give and take, which is extremely important for simulation games in keeping their players invested. That being said the game was still very good and worth a playthrough. Suzerain can be played on PC for $14.99 via Steam and Epic. 

You follow the life of President Anton Rayne, a man whose choices led him to rise to power after experiencing traumatizing events in 1945. Sordland is left in ruin and your first term is trying to pick up the pieces and repair all the damage left from the previous tragedies that had taken place during your young adulthood. What makes the story so interesting is the fact that all of your choices not only affect every outcome making every decision stressful and critical, but you also get to choose how you want to be as president. Players can choose a more cutthroat approach, choosing military power and force with a more dictatorship style of leadership, or even a more democratic one with trying to push civil rights and health care.

However, the situations players will deal with make it almost hard to follow a straight path due to the extremely life-like circumstances the game has to offer. These decisions can be as big as choosing between funding police enforcement to rid Sordland of extremist gangs or choosing to let the gangs stay because that money needs to fund the education or healthcare system that needs to change. What adds a more personal feel to the game are the dialogue options presented for your family. The developers did an extremely great job in making the game more immersive and allowing players to feel as if they are Anton Rayne.

My only issues with the game had been the gameplay itself. As mentioned before the game lacked interaction, and consisted of the map and events at each location. That would not have been bad if the events consisted of more than just text dialogue between other characters in the story such as your family or other politicians. It was cool that different dialogue choices ended up in a cause and effect like scenario, however, there were no cool cut scenes to watch nor any battles with interactions.

The game would have been miles better with more substance, but unfortunately, it’s just a read-and-click response type of scenario. This game even had a great setup for what could have been an RTS or even TBS kind of experience. One thing I did enjoy about the gameplay however is the fact that you aren’t sure who to trust based on responses given. There are a lot of harder choices to make with potential false promises from your government “allies” and business “allies” that tend to have more bargains for political gain than favors. This story does well to pressure players in a political minefield that feels surreal.

Suzerain was a perfect portrayal of a government setting and presidential pressures as far as storytelling and decision-making go. It was fantastic in changing outcomes and putting players in extremely difficult situations. I honestly have not felt so stressed with presented problems and choices since Mass Effect. The game did suffer unfortunately from a dull point and click style gameplay with no cut scenes or interactive gameplay. While this game has plenty of potentials and is worth a playthrough, I honestly feel like there could have been so much more to the adventure provided. 

DVS Score: 6/10

Genesis Noir: A Switch Review

While playing Genesis Noir, I was left with a feeling of a love-hate relationship. Not to say it was a bad game at all, the story concept was very good and the art style was beautiful. Unfortunately what I felt to be lacking was the gameplay, story execution, and overall atmosphere. I wanted to love this game, but it was so underwhelming that it was hard for me to return to the game completely.

While most games tend to have a slow beginning, this game in particular felt like the beginning for over half of the game due to an underdelivered story and repetitive gameplay. That being said I do see the merit in the game itself, for it is a relaxing game to play and as I said before beautifully designed. It may just be right up the alley for casual gamers that may not might slower and fairly basic gameplay. However, I honestly feel that even at the price there are far better options to go with. Genesis Noir is an adventure game developed by Ferel Cat Den and published by Fellow Traveller. It can be bought on all current and last generation platforms aside from PlayStation for only $14.99.

Genesis Noir on Steam

You follow the character known as No Man, a time traveler who is trying to save the love of his life by stopping the expansion of the universe. No man is a peddler and sells a vast collection of watches for money during his time travels. Each time he travels and alters various events it changes the big bang overall. While trying to save his love, he must overcome obstacles whether it be various puzzles or confronting his enemy Golden Boy, who happens to also be a part of this love triangle.

The story concept was based on Cosmiccomics by Italo Calvino and would have been a great story to tell if it were not for how the story was delivered. A story like this I feel would have drawn me in, but the atmosphere of the game and little context left me feeling like there was not much of an impact. I will give credit to the visual aspect of the game which did keep me coming back at times. This unique art style and soundtrack gave me a 1920’s jazz-filled experience that brought this piece to life, and nearly saved the experience overall.

The gameplay was another big letdown for me, and normally I would not take points off when it comes to story-based adventure games but it was seriously lacking. In addition, due to the poorly executed story, I was hoping the gameplay might make up for it. Genesis Noir’s gameplay mainly consists of clicking items to interact with them making the experience very lackluster and not interactive. Some good brain-teasing puzzles draw you in a bit, but ultimately players will find themselves occasionally moving around and clicking on items. Now I understand this game was not solely made for the switch, and some point-and-click adventures are fun, but as I said generally for an adventure game you either get interactive fun gameplay or a great story. This game failed to deliver on both ends which is ultimately the reason I found it to be disappointing.

In short, Genesis Noir was a case of wasted potential. Adventure games are meant to draw players in with interaction and engaging tales. The art style was nothing short of gorgeous and the jazz music was perfect in taking players back to the roaring 20s, but the lack of story and overall context killed the atmosphere. With poor gameplay and poor storytelling, visuals and soundtracks can only carry a game so far. Though I will say I do love the direction that the developer was aiming for, and hope for the next time they can capitalize on their concepts.

DVS Score: 5/10

Maquette: PS5 Review

Playing Maquette was an incredibly interesting adventure to take part in with fantastic music, a beautiful art style, and cleverly designed puzzles used to unlock parts of the story. While this genre is known for huge titles like Portal 2The Talos Principle, and CatherineMaquette still blew the minds of players for the current generation in the gaming industry. While this game did not tap into the full potential for its puzzles, the overall concept was perfectly executed and the environment evolved seamlessly with the story. This title was one of the best-designed first-person puzzle adventures I have ever played, for it is rare to see a story blend so perfectly with its environment. Developed by Graceful Decay, and published by Annapurna Interactive, Maquette is available on Playstation and PC for $19.99. It is currently still free for PSN users until the end of the month. 

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The story is based on modern couples and follows the memories of Michael and his former lover Kenzie. As you navigate through what seems to be a dome or various locations, you see various stages of the couple’s relationship and the various emotions that Michael experiences throughout different stages of their partnership. The Maquette shines ever so brightly as the memories of their first encounters come to life, such as the café where they first meet and their first date at the fair. You can feel the heightened emotions between Michael and Kenzie for what seems like true first love. Over time through the different chapters, you notice as the locations change and what seems like a decay set in which is used to signify the problems between the two. The puzzles start to get a bit more in-depth, and the distance for travel feels longer and creates a feeling of being powerless. Buildings start to crumble, leaving behind what used to be a warm and loving environment. The dome expresses the emotions so well throughout the story, you almost feel as you are the one experiencing happiness and heartache. I also commend the game for its dialogue, for that is one of the few aspects in most video games that tends to fail. The voice acting feels very genuine and authentic compared to most story-based games. The story itself felt a bit generic but depicts an accurate representation of failing relationships and closure. The game portrayed is so well that despite the lack of uniqueness to the story, the game represented it so well that it felt empowering.

I do not have too many complaints, for the game overall was very well executed. There were a few bugs here and there with the puzzles that resulted in a chapter restart or reloading a previous save, which did cause quite a bit of frustration. The puzzles were fairly well designed and very unique, for you play in a dome with locations that can be described as dioramas. There is also a mini dome that replicates the one you stand in, and a larger one outside that you navigate later in the game. The minidome is mostly used for resizing and placing larger versions of an object, such as a bridge to cross buildings or a key to gain access to locked-off locations. Some objects are used for multiple purposes in varying ways that force the player to think “outside the box”. For example, a key can turn into multiple uses of transportation outside of unlocking doors. Later on in the game adds a new level of cleverness in problem-solving, for it adds access to the outside layer where your base dome becomes increased in size. A switch might be only accessible in the mini-dome to give you access to a locked-off area in your central dome. A bridge might have to be placed down in your mini-dome to become supersized for the outside dome, and stairs might be placed in ways you’d never think of to reach the unreachable. You end up having to figure out where the next part of the puzzle takes place, and where to complete certain actions. I would have liked to see the puzzles get a little more in-depth, for the majority of them were not too hard to solve, but this was mostly a minor complaint. This game was one of the few instances where the atmosphere actually made the game. My other complaint is for trophy hunters, as a hunter myself I was originally seeking to platinum this game. Unfortunately, some of the trophies don’t unlock when they should causing you to repeat actions. For example, though I completed two of the levels in the respective time for some of the trophies, they failed to unlock. Some quick fixes are reinstalling the game from what I have researched, but overall it just killed my want for the platinum. Additionally, for speedrunners cutscenes do count towards your time meaning you have to skip annoyingly enough.

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Originally after beating this game I did not feel too impressed until really looking back on it and remembering the obstacles I went through to complete it. This game left feelings that stuck with me, and ultimately lead me to write about it. This title was truly unique and is the definition of one of a kind. While some aspects can be improved, I genuinely enjoyed the atmosphere and gameplay for this game. It’s a riveting and truly unique experience that challenges players not only in critical thinking but also emotionally as you navigate the feelings of an uncompromising and unforgiving tale. While this game might not be for everyone, I recommend it for the majority.

DVS Score: 6.5/10

Paradise Lost: A Melancholy Bunker

When I initially opened up this game, I honestly was not sure what I was in for. I immediately got Bioshock vibes with this steampunk, post-apocalyptical atmosphere. However, I could not imagine that the story could have such a strong impact on this title. The game started what seemed slow, only to creep in and leave a feeling of heartache and a choice that seemed almost impossible to pick what was right. Paradise Lost is an indie adventure game developed by PolyArmorous and published by All In! Games SA. You can purchase this on Playstation, Xbox, and PC for $14.99. If you don’t mind slow gameplay and love heavy story-based video games, this is the game for you. 

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The story takes place post World War 2, but instead of the Nazi Army of Germany losing there was no victor. Instead, the Nazis launched nuclear missiles on most of Europe leaving nothing but a wasteland. Afterward, Europe was shrouded in radiation and smoke, and it seems like all life has disappeared. You play as a survivor, a young boy named Szymon who is 12 years of age. His mother has recently passed, and all he has left is a photograph of her and a mysterious man. As the boy, you find a Nazi Bunker in hopes of finding this man, only to run into a girl named Ewa who contacts you through this mysterious technology, and strike a deal in hopes to reach your goals. However, the farther into the bunker you go, the more secrets and dark truths you uncover. The atmosphere only adds to the depressing tale of Szymon, for you have to climb, crawl, and discover all of the horrible pre-wasteland truths of the Nazi warriors and their experiments and technology. Swastikas cover the halls, documents and letters are left at every turn and desk, and there are blueprints and recorders left at various meeting rooms and lobbies alike. The more you read, and the more you listen, the more these dreadful truths come to life.

I loved this story premise, for going into this game you have no sense of self yet, and you have to read through every article and listen for dialogue to match them up with the infrequent cut scenes to put the pieces together. A lot of games struggle with storytelling when trying to make it heavily reading-based, but this game surprised me in how well they executed this. You also get to read perspectives from the fallen civilians and soldiers along the way to see how life was before everything ended. The voice acting was a bit off in terms of the German accents, but nothing that impacted the game too heavily. One other minor complaint I have is that there are only a few instances where you can choose your responses and none of them aside for your final choice matters. It would have been nice to see more instances with dialogue choices that somehow impacted the game to make it a bit more interactive. I will give a warning for players, for this game is not for the faint of heart. Due to the settings of this game, there are a lot of letters and recordings with derogatory statements, and there are actual swastikas everywhere since this is placed in a Nazi bunker.

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The gameplay was nothing really to write home about, but honestly, some games do not need solid gameplay to get them through. This is overall a story-based adventure that makes the game so solid. However, there are some issues I did take with it. First and foremost in any game like this, where you discover and read for more clues, I think that collectibles are insanely important to push players to want to venture more through every area they possibly can. I also would have liked to see more interaction with different tools that you would need on your adventure, for in the game you only really needed a document to get through the first area and an access card towards the end. It almost felt like the adventure went too smoothly, there was no danger or obstacles which let’s be honest if you are in a bunker that’s falling apart at the seems I expect difficulty. My last complaint is there is no sprint whatsoever, and the walking is insanely slow. I mean almost unbearable, like the original Final Fantasy 12 kind of slow. If you want players to take their time, by all means, but don’t have an angsty 12-year-old slow crawl. Overall these were minor issues, though they did impact the slow storytelling a bit the ending honestly made everything so worth it. 

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Overall I loved the game; though it got off to a rough start I am happy that I pushed through it. The atmosphere was beautifully designed and filled you with a sense of feeling utterly alone and helpless. Playing as Szymon was a really hard experience and strong journey, and the character was extremely well designed. Ewa was also a fantastically written character, and her overall story was probably one of the most heartbreaking scenarios that anyone could experience. This is was of the best story-driven games that I have had the pleasure of playing in a long time, and I highly recommend this game to Indie Adventure lovers of all kinds.

DVS Score: 7/10

Valheim: PC Vikings!

The Viking Survival Game

Valheim is a newly released survival RPG for PC available on Steam for $20. More recently moved from closed beta to early release, I was quite surprised to find that the game was more finished than anticipated. As is with most of these early-release RPG games, there’s always something to go wrong. So, let’s start with what was done right.  

Valheim starts with a quick written story, which is appreciated. As someone who hates sitting through 15-30-minute-long intros (I’m looking at you Elusive Age), it was fantastic to get a quick cover story. The game visually is like any other PC RPG style early-release. The graphics are blocky and a little hard on the eyes, less detail more overall experience. The game itself runs beautifully on most PCs as the requirements are amazingly low.  

This aids in the overall experience of the game, allowing for a fast render as you sprint through the woods chasing after your first hunt. Valheim is pretty much Vikings in a PC game. The story isn’t about the life of the Viking, but the death and worthiness to enter Valhalla. Create longships in honor of Odin, delve into the dark arts of the gods the choices are seemingly endless. As I just started my adventure in Valheim, I cannot spoil the story too much for everyone, but there are Gods you can summon to fight and prove your worth.  

There are loads of trees, plants, and distinct biomes within the world itself. As you travel through looking for the best place for your first home be careful of your surroundings. Enemies become more aggressive and dangerous the darker it gets, making a lovely walk in the woods a dangerous escapade. There are a few different kinds of enemies that you’ll face off right away in Valheim, but none that should over level you right off the bat. As long as you follow the hints and guidelines set by the game, you’ll be able to make a home before freezing or beaten to death. There are quite a few things you can do right off the bat as well, like mine for ore and harvest enemy parts like bones.  

FIRE. MAKE FIRE.  

As most of you know playing these RPGPC games, fire is important in keeping animals away at night and cooking food. But what you may not know, is that there are special events that happen depending on how close you are to a boss ritual stone. Fire is more important than you know, as it could save your buildings and chests.  

Now let’s get down the nitty-gritty with this game. There aren’t very many serious issues with this game, as long as you can finesse a few things here and there. The most common issue that is floating around the Valheim Discord, is the listing and finding of dedicated servers. When creating a dedicated server for Valheim, it is recommended to go into the Discord and ask the right questions.  There are a few ways of creating a dedicated server, and if you are familiar with Steam, you know how difficult it can be for these to pop up in the server list search engine. It is recommended to use Valheim‘s Dedicated Server software and not the Steam CMD as it’ll make the process more streamlined.  

I highly recommend doing it this way, as I’ve been able to create multiple servers without using a ton of my PC’s resources. Then comes the next issue, how do we find you in the server listing. Some people have an easy enough time, searching the outbound IP for the specific server and hitting refresh until it populates. Others have an easier time going through the friend invites on the Steam UI. There are a few different ways to find your server, and hopefully, you do. As that is the most frustrating part of this game. As fun as it is, as beautiful it can be. If you can’t play with friends, your overall experience will go down. So, don’t get too frustrated when you can’t find a friend’s server. Take a deep breath and jump into the Valheim Discord, there are so many people there willing to help.  

Honestly, this game works as intended. It has hiccups as all early-release games do and its main hiccup is the server search/multiplayer aspect of it. Personally, I haven’t had many issues with multiplayer, even on multiple LAN connections. This game has been beautiful, time-consuming, and a lot of fun with my friends. For $20 you can’t go wrong.

Grade: 6.5/10