One highlight at every PAX is their PAX Rising Showcase, where their internal teams hand select titles they feel stand out due to their innovation, entertainment value, and solid gameplay. This years’ selection includes Slay the Princess, Moonlight Pulse, Strayed Lights, and the one I will talk about below–Sovereign Syndicate.
On Saturday, I had the pleasure of playing the demo for Sovereign Syndicate, a narrative-heavy cRPG that utilizes Tarot cards instead of dice. You play as a minotaur named Atticus, navigating through a Victorian setting. Your dialogue choices can determine whether you engage in combat, persuade people, or even influence important outcomes.
On the last day of PAX, I managed to snag a quick interview with Isaac Otway, the founder of Crimson Herring Studios and its debut title, Sovereign Syndicate. Isaac spent many years working in a traditional business setting, although he had quite the creative side! He talked about his search for a creative outlet during the start of COVID-19 pandemic. At first, Isaac considered writing a novel, but he ultimately felt the best medium to tell his story would be through a video game. With hard work and perseverance, he secured funds to start up Crimson Herring and hire those knowledgeable in the industry. This is how his historical/Victorian, fantasy mash-up adventure was born.
There are several aspects of Sovereign Syndicate that make it stand out from other games in the genre. In addition to utilizing Tarot cards instead of dice, you obtain access to stronger Arcana cards to assimilate into your deck as you level up. The difficulty can change as you draw cards, for you must use them all up before it completely reshuffles. Sovereign Syndicate also leans heavily on narrative. The title contains around 500,000 words! In each conversation or scenario, you must select from internal voices that pop up in the character’s head. Each represents a personality archetype (e.g. Animal Instinct), and if you select the same kind regularly, it can influence your character over time.
Even though I played as Atticus during the demo, there are a total of three characters you play as–a minotaur, male dwarf, and a human female. This would allow the player to experience how this world interacts differently to each character. Isaac elaborated on his interest in exploring Victorian London’s darker side–poverty, classism, sexism, substance abuse, and other moral/social issues. He even drew a parallel to people in the Victorian era who were hesitant to accepting technology advancements as we our generation is now with Artificial Intelligence. There are multiple endings available as you play through Sovereign Syndicate, and I’m looking forward to experiencing as much as I can.
A formal release date on Steam is still TBD, but Boss Rush will keep you up to date. Also, we can expect this to be Steam Deck compatible, with a full certification still under review.
Does Sovereign Syndicate pique your interest? Check out the trailer below:
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Source: Crimson Herring Studios