The Life And Suffering Of Sir Brante Review

Ambitious and sprawling

The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante in the Blessed Times of the Arknian Empire is a big name for an even bigger game. Described as a dark, narrative-driven RPG, The Life and Suffering puts the destiny of one person in your hands and, through that, the fate of a vast nation and its inhabitants. It’s a high fantasy tale packed with betrayal and revolution, and while it might not be something everyone can enjoy, The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante is an unforgettable epic.

Despite “Sir” being part of the title, you’re technically a low-born peasant. However, the chance presents itself to seize your destiny and rise through the Arknian Empire’s rigid social ranks to claim a higher title — but only if you want to. You can also turn the world on its head or be a money-grubbing, people-hating monster if that’s your thing.

Whatever you choose, it is, unfortunately, only the story of “Sir” Brante. Sever didn’t include the option to explore a Lady Brante narrative, which is a big disappointment considering the rich world they created and women’s role in it.

The Arknian Empire is a riff on the medieval social system. Those who work, those who pray, and those who fight are divinely designated castes called Lots, and it adds “those who have glowing blue skin and rule over humans” and “outcasts called witches who set things on fire” as two more classes.

Your name lies in suffering

Also, like medieval Europe, the Arknian Empire’s brutal social and religious codes belie the fluid and volatile society underneath. Younger people forced to accept their lowly Lot group together and plot rebellion, the middle class who earn their nobility strive for ways to wrest power from their social betters, and religious uprising is never far away.

Into all this is born [yourName] Brante, a child with nearly infinite possibilities stretching into the uncertain future.

A cross between a tabletop game and a visual novel is the best way to describe The Life and Suffering. It’s divided into multiple chapters centered around important segments in Sir Brante’s life, stretching from childhood to a violent revolution that shakes the Empire’s foundations. These segments each split into years with one or more important events in each year, and it all revolves around one thing: your choices.

You’re faced with making important choices with far-reaching consequences literally moments after being born, and this is part of what makes The Life and Suffering so fascinating and compelling. Every choice you make shapes Sir Brante’s destiny somehow, closing off narrative possibilities, consigning certain characters to death, and influencing how the world views Sir Brante and his family.

What kind of Brante are you?

The game manages all this through a system of traits. Sir Brante’s own traits are, naturally, the most significant and determine what choices you can make based on how you’ve handled previous situations, but there are additional traits such as your city’s wellbeing and how your family is viewed. Certain choices require traits of a specific value, though some increase one trait at the expense of others. It’s a ceaseless balancing act that keeps you hooked throughout.

There’s no way of knowing for sure what attributes you’ll want to prioritize until you’ve actually played through a chapter. However, the chapter overview offers a guide of sorts with some possible milestones you can achieve and the requirements to unlock them. Expect plenty of surprises to pop up and throw a wrench in your plans, though.

Despite that, planning is still key if you want to make the most of your life. That becomes more apparent as Sir Brante grows up. The initial set of stats evolves into something more complex than how you spent your childhood. Just like reality, you can’t do everything or please everyone, so your choices have to count.

Another one Brante’s the dust

This setup is where The Life and Suffering shines. The dialogue is often clumsy, true, and the characters are two dimensional. Yet the ideals and concepts they represent stand above the actual words and touch something universal that’s hard to ignore.

That starts immediately by making you choose whether you favor your father, your mother, or your own path. The Life and Suffering excels at diving into the gritty minutiae of family life and the constant tension between asserting your independence and extending understanding to your family. Then it multiplies that tension in Sir Brante’s adulthood amid a whirlwind of responsibilities where it’s easy to forget what’s right for you amid everyone’s expectations.

The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante is intensely personal, a game that gets under your skin and won’t leave your head for a long time. While that’s great for replayability, it’s not called The Life “And Suffering” of Sir Brante without reason. The brutal nature of some of the game’s events fully warrants Sever’s content warnings for abuse, violence, and neglect. Even some of the less intense situations are enough to cause discomfort depending on your past and if you’re not in a good mental space.

Those who can go through it are in for one of the more unique games out there. With its sprawling lore, detailed plotting, and intimate look at the effects one person’s choices have on the world around them, The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante is an ambitious narrative RPG and a must-play for fantasy lovers.