The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante represents what a choose your own adventure game ought to be. It’s an engrossing journey spanning an entire lifetime that puts the player’s destiny in their own hands. Will you live by the rules forced upon you by society, or will you seek to change the world? The world in which Sir Brante finds himself offers plenty of opportunities.
The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante is a narrative-driven game where you play as Sir Brante. Sir Brante isn’t anyone in specific, it’s your choices that will determine who Sir Brante ultimately becomes. Players will guide Sir Brante throughout his entire life, from birth until death. His fate is entirely in your hands. The world where Sir Brante resides is a cruel place, and you will find yourself unable to overcome every obstacle that comes your way. Prepare yourself for failure, for Sir Brante will not be able to come out of every single challenge unscathed.
Before going into further detail, it should be noted that pretty much the entire game is text-based, so if you don’t fancy reading, then this most likely isn’t the game for you. In any case, the presentation and soundtrack are both superb. The latter serves the game’s setting just right, setting the perfect ambience as the story plays itself out. Although it can feel repetitive at times, especially since it’s pretty much the only audible stimulation that the game provides, it usually nails the right emotions. Whether it’s during a slow and intriguing build-up, a sudden turn of events, or a moment of respite, the game’s soundtrack always hits the right spot.
Now, just to provide you with some context in terms of the game’s world, I’d like to say that the game takes place in the Arknian Empire, a long-standing empire that stands on the shoulders of the Twin Gods and the idea of Lots. Everyone has their own Lot, the clergy, the nobility, and the commoners. The clergy’s Lot is to enact the will of the Twin Gods, while the nobility’s Lot dictates that they must rule over the commoners. To that end, the Lot of the common citizen is solely to suffer and endure the rule of those above them by tirelessly working.
Sir Brante belongs to the lowest of the Lots, he’s a commoner. Despite that, his father, Robert, is actually a noble, because his father himself is also a noble. The reason why you’re a commoner is that your mother, Lydia, Robert’s second wife, is actually a commoner. With that said, Sir Brante has 3 siblings. There’s Nathan, your youngest brother, and Gloria, your older sister which was born from a previous relationship of your mother. Both of them are commoners. Just like your mother, your father also brought to this family his son from his previous marriage, Stephan, who is a noble by birthright.
There are a lot of power dynamics going on in your family because not everyone shares the same Lot. Just as the world around you is changing, as a reflection of the ongoing struggles of the commoners, as well as in-fighting between the clergy and the nobles, so too does your family change over time.
The game is divided into five different chapters that span Sir Brante’s life. The first three are marked by representing his childhood, adolescence, and youth, while the other two are part of much bigger events. Each of these chapters plays out in a very different way than the rest of them by presenting you with all sorts of different opportunities. The choices that you make on each of them will determine who you’ll become in the future, your place in the world, and they’ll also trigger certain events, thus altering your experience.
Although this is a narrative-driven game that, when faced with certain situations, presents you with multiple choices, these choices are only possible if you meet certain personality criteria. Throughout the early stages of each chapter, you’ll get to build up certain aspects of your personality or strengthen your political position, whatever that may be. For instance, option A might make you more wealthy but it will tarnish your family’s honour, while option B will increase your family reputation but bring it closer to financial ruin. There isn’t right or wrong here, it’s simply up to the player to decide who they want to be.
Nonetheless, although in theory, this idea of having different stats that represent Sir Brante’s personality and his aptitude for certain things sounds great, I think it doesn’t really work that well in the end. Personally, I only realized this closer to the end of my playthrough. While through the vast majority of my playthrough I was making the choices that were in line with the character that I built Sir Brante to be, after a certain point, the game started locking me out of most choices because I didn’t have the necessary amount of points for them. I’m aware that this is because of the choices that I made up to that point, but I still felt like most of them were choices that made more sense to me, to my Sir Brante, than the few that I was able to choose.
With that in mind, although I don’t regret the way that I played the game, I still wasn’t happy about how it ended for me. I thought I was following a specific path, but when I realized what was really going on it was already too late to change the course of history. The fate of Sir Brante didn’t end up being the one that I was hoping for, so I’m eager to revisit the game in the future. I’m not sure how many actual different endings there are, but there are a ton of different branching paths that you can pursue, so there’s quite a lot of replay value here. Furthermore, it also means that each player can experience vastly different storylines. Personally, I absolutely love that, I love being able to discuss a game with someone else and realize how different our journeys were.
Depending on how fast you read, a full playthrough should last you somewhere between 13 and 17 hours. In any case, to say anything less than that The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante has been nothing short of a huge surprise would be a lie. It’s quite a shame that Sir Brante hasn’t been receiving the spotlight it truly deserves. Despite its few shortcomings, I still can’t believe how this game has gone unnoticed in the mainstream game’s media. If you enjoy narrative-driven experiences, especially ones that feel exactly like a choose-your-own-adventure book, then do yourself a favour and pick this game up. I’m certain that you won’t regret it.