The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante Review: A True Page Turner!

Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books offer much of the same experience as modern RPGs. With their origins in the 1970s, this is something many of us, including me, would have missed. Tabletop RPGs are a nice compromise between a full-fledged video game RPG and an adventure-style book to choose from.

Many developers have tweaked the formula slightly to turn this style of storytelling into something more “gamey”; games like Telltale The walking dead or Dontnod’s Life is strange Full player control with an engrossing narrative filled with player choice. How about removing all of the “gameplay” just to focus on the storytelling and the choices? Well that’s exactly what Sever did with The life and sufferings of Sir Brante, and the results are simply phenomenal.

The life and suffering of Sir Brante is available on Steam and Epic Store for your regional pricing.

Story – A gripping tale of death and deception

Set in the Great Arknian Empire, your character is one of the four children of the Brante family. In this world, each person must live by his Lot; their predetermined way of life passed down to them by the twin gods. The fate of a nobleman is that of wealth, riches, and leadership, while the fate of a commoner is that of suffering, hardship, and bondage. The nobility is in the line of the wealthy families of the Empire; However, you can become a Noble by working hard and dedicating yourself to the Empire. This is the situation the Brante family is in, your grandfather and father were given the title of nobility, but it does not run in their blood.

You start early in your life as a toddler exploring the world with the help of your family. And those choices shape your character. Growing up as a commoner poses many obstacles, which you can choose to respect, avoid altogether, or go for it headlong.

The amount of choice offered to the player is staggering. Even the most trivial choices can have ripple effects that won’t become apparent until later in life. You might have helped a character out of the kindness of your heart, but you later found out that the character had gained significant influence; this little choice has granted you a powerful friend. And they can also get in your way in the future, preventing you from making choices that you wish you could.

Small stories have big consequences

Small stories have big consequences

The story is gripping. You often hear people say they can’t let go of a book, and that was the case with this visual novel. Sever has created a rich world, filled to the brim with social, political and religious strife. The constant battle between a person’s agency and the will of the twin gods is perfectly described. This, combined with deep political and social hierarchies, creates a living and breathing world equally interesting and terrifying world. How nobles reduce commoners, how different rulers conspire against each other.

It would all be great as a book, but it’s even better to have my own influence on the story. The writing is also solid. I never felt like I was reading a huge block of text; descriptive text mixed with graphics on the right side of the screen painted a vivid picture of the Empire, its people, and its many towns and villages.

Gameplay – The paradox of choice

The game is presented as a visual novel. Turn the pages to move the story forward. There are other tabs like a family tree, stats page, and world map, but I spent little time on these screens. The majority of the gameplay comes from the choices you have to make. Should you hold your tongue against a nobleman or speak your own mind and take the consequences? I was constantly struggling with what I thought was right and what was best for my character.

There are small choices that influence your stats as a kid, by increasing your willpower or your perception, for example. However, even menial decisions shape your character. You may find yourself left out of the decision you would like to make because of your weak attributes or your relationship with someone that is too negative. Helping the wrong person when I was 16 came back to haunt me when I was plotting against the Empire.

You have typical stats that personally determine your character, and as you level up you unlock stats like manipulation or storylines (two traits I was particularly high at). In addition, there are other things to fear like wealth, or the power or unity of your family (the latter being extremely weak for my game). These made me think even more about my actions. I wasn’t just trying to improve my character; I was interested in saving money or helping my family improve our relationship.

Statistics sheet

Statistics sheet

There seem to be few “main” paths you can take; the route i tried to take didn’t work out the way i planned, and my life turned out completely different from what i had planned, and honestly it was a breath of fresh air . It’s usually pretty easy to make the decisions you want to make in RPGs; Mass Effect the paragon and renegade options make two separate paths. Sever took me on a trip. I had initially planned to become a well-educated man, with the happiness of my family as the main priority, but that dream fell apart. Quite quickly my family fell apart and my education turned into something more sinister.

The feeling of dread I felt upon finding out that I couldn’t make the decision I wanted was awful, but it made the choice even more impactful. Sometimes my hands were tied, and there was nothing I could do about it, and as boring as it might sound when I was hooked at that time. Some scenarios are unlocked due to your previous choices; I even missed a final chapter because of my choices. I admire any game that is willing to exclude you from the content that has taken so long to create. This only reinforces the importance of choice in The life and sufferings of Sir Brante.

Graphics and audio – dull and dreary

Taking place in medieval land, the Great Arknian Empire has both its grand places housing the nobles and the more humble places housing the commoners. The only glimpse into this world is through black and white illustrations that naturally exude a dark tone. Although there is a distinction between the wealthy streets of Eterna, the capital, and the slums of its underground city, the images are still bleak. Most character portraits look tired and gloomy, and it’s no wonder you experience life. The biggest problem with these is that there isn’t a lot of variation. Many images are recycled throughout the game; however, I spent very little time watching them as I was focused on reading so it wasn’t a big deal.

Music and sound complete the story so well. Birdsong as you explore the garden like a child, soft piano music as you and your mother explore the wilderness, grim sounds after one of the inevitable deaths you will face. Although no particular track stands out, at the same time, it was never overbearing, distracting me from the narrative; they were the finishing touch to a gripping story.

The life and suffering of Sir Brante was reviewed on PC; a revision code was provided by GPT Media.