There are moments in all our lives when we find ourselves standing at a metaphorical crossroads, able to take multiple different directions with the one chosen determining how life plays out. But what if you had taken a different road? This is the question we might ask ourselves late at night. What would our life have become? In games, the idea of multiple choices that affect the fate of a character is nothing new; RPGs offer multiple ways to play, with many different endings. The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante though is a game that does this as well, but with much more detail and variation on the outcomes. It’s the Football Manager level of detail that Sir Brante delivers through the ‘choose your own’ adventure tale that will ensure you are hooked.
The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante sees you travelling through someone’s life; from birth to death. You choose your name at the beginning, placed in front of Sir Brante and off you go, presented with a book as the interface of the game. Your life is split into chapters, from infancy to youth to adolescence to young adult and onwards. From there, you find yourself playing through each year of this person’s life. A very complicated life.
The development team at Sever have created a wonderful world in which you play out the life of Sir Brante; a life that is familiar to ours, yet adds fantasy elements to it, like magic and unusual races. Set in the world of the Great Arknian Empire, there is a different type of theology, social class structure, and political system that is fascinating and intriguing to discover. The ‘gods’ of this world are these two mysterious figures – ‘The Twins’ – whose decisions create the fate of the world and its outcomes. You might die in this world, but be brought back to life, it only ending when you have what they call “True Death”.
Each person is specified by “lots” which puts you into a class structure with certain rules and fates determined by your life. Commoners are fated for a world of suffering and misery as that is their lot. Whilst being Nobel allows you a myriad of privileges including killing and causing suffering. As you progress through this world you learn that change is in the air and whole factions want to change the status quo. Will you be one of them?
The writing, story plotting, and character development of The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante are all absolutely at the top of their game, delivered both in terms of quantity and quality. It’s excellent throughout, with the main focus of what you will be doing, being that of reading. In fact, it’s like picking up a book that you can’t put down. I was intrigued, horrified, and astounded at times.
The game’s “choose your own adventure’ roots are truly buried deep. You will get to points in the story where you will have several narrative options opening up in front of you. These options will have long-lasting effects on your relationship with your family, and later on, your career choices and paths, as well as the actual setup of your personality. You get points to drop into traits like Willpower, Nobility, Ingenuity, and Spirituality and as you gain and lose points on these traits throughout the game you will discover that certain choices are greyed out, unavailable to you. There are some seriously tough choices to make in this game because the world is hard whatever way you choose to play it.
The choices are nothing short of amazing and after playing through the game the first time you’ll want to go back in and run it again, looking for the opposite sides to the story. The good news with this is that you won’t have to start right at the beginning either, able to choose a place in Sir Brante’s life and running from there.
It all comes together with a particularly interesting visual style; one created by a hand-drawn pencil that is filling in the chapters of Sir Brante’s life. Sometimes these are animated but most of the time it’s delivered via still drawings. It is beautifully designed though, as are the menus and game UI. The soundtrack is awesome too – full of the effects of fighting, revolution, and religious epiphanies. You may struggle to shift the voicework from the Russian language cutscenes by default though.
The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante is a game that many will adore, but just as many won’t be able to get on with. There is a lot of reading involved and a lot of story present; it’s this which may mean it gets overlooked for something harder and faster. I personally think it’s able to deliver a brilliant piece of writing and storytelling, keeping me totally engrossed throughout, fascinated about the many different paths that might play out through the main protagonist’s life journey.
The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante is most definitely a piece of intelligent game-making; one that deserves all the accolades it gets.
The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante is available from the Xbox Store