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Sovereign Syndicate Review – A Steampunk Adventure with Ambition and Flaws

“Sovereign Syndicate” emerges as a narrative-driven RPG that tries to carve its unique identity in the shadow of giants like “Disco Elysium,” but with mixed success. Set in a steampunk version of London, populated with fantastical beings and powered by steam and gears, the game presents an ambitious blend of fantasy and Victorian-era aesthetics. Through the eyes of its three protagonists – an orphaned Minotaur, a striving dolly, and a dwarf inventor – players are thrust into a world of intrigue, mystery, and societal commentary.

Narrative and Characters: A Mixed Bag

The game’s narrative ambition is evident, drawing players into a richly imagined world. Atticus Daley, the Minotaur with a troubled past, stands out as the most compelling character, offering depth and a personal quest that resonates with players. However, the game’s structure, which forces character switching with each chapter, sometimes disrupts the narrative flow and dilutes player engagement, especially when the stories of Clara and Teddy feel less captivating in comparison.

Gameplay and Mechanics: Bold Choices with Uneven Execution

“Sovereign Syndicate” attempts to innovate with its skill check system and RPG elements, allowing for a variety of character builds and approaches to challenges. The tarot-based decision-making system is a novel touch, though its impact feels muted by occasionally opaque consequences and a lack of engaging mechanics. The game’s exploration of a steampunk London, while visually interesting, is hampered by repetitive locations and a linear progression that limits the sense of discovery and freedom.

Visuals and Atmosphere: Steampunk London, Both Charming and Constrained

The game’s steampunk aesthetic is one of its highlights, offering a visually pleasing experience despite a limited budget. However, expectations for a darker, more macabre setting go unmet, with the game’s atmosphere often feeling inconsistent with its themes. The limited variety of locations and the repetitive nature of chapter settings detract from the potential immersion in a steampunk dystopia.

Sound Design: An Unfulfilled Potential

While the game’s sound design is competent, its musical score is notably lackluster. A more memorable and thematic soundtrack could have significantly enhanced the atmospheric depth and emotional impact of the narrative and setting.

Final Thoughts: An Ambitious Venture with Room for Growth

“Sovereign Syndicate” is a game that reaches for the stars but falls short in several key areas. Its narrative is rich with potential, yet its execution leaves something to be desired, particularly in terms of gameplay variety and character development. The steampunk setting is a double-edged sword, offering a unique backdrop that is not fully exploited. Despite its flaws, the game is a testament to the ambition and creativity of its developers, and it lays a promising foundation for future titles in this universe.

For fans of narrative-driven RPGs and steampunk aficionados, “Sovereign Syndicate” offers enough novelty and intrigue to warrant a playthrough, albeit with tempered expectations. It’s a game that shines in moments, teasing what could have been with a larger budget and more development time. As it stands, it’s a commendable effort and rightly priced for the experience it offers but leaving players yearning for what might have been with a bit more polish and depth.

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