In “The master of the land,” the protagonist attends an aristocratic ball with the goal of obtaining a favor from one of the dignitaries there. As the night progress, she becomes involved in more court intrigue and further complications.
Gameplay: The game is choice-based, but the player can roam freely around the map. Events transpire at each location according to the time and previous choices, and the player is free to pursue or ignore plots as they develop. This freedom is a bit overwhemling, and that’s the point; the protagonist is being pulled in multiple directions by her plot, and the game is about trying to accomplish the tasks quickly and efficiently. At the very least, it successfully creates the sense of anxious plotting that one would feel at a high-stakes political event. The events themselves vary from personal plots (e.g., getting a special dispensation to wear trousers rather than a dress) to more epic ones. That variety, along with the need to prioritize them, makes the game interesting. Even though the setting only comprises a few locations, the stream of new plots and new characters keeps the game interesting for the duration. That duration is also longer than I initially expected. I only had time to play through the game once, but there’s so much material in the game that it merits several replays after the competition is over. 8/10.
Mechanics: The game is a simple choice-based one, but it has quite a bit of state, and the actions taken significantly affect the plot. The player has much more freedom than in most choice-based games, and the world is more believable as a result; playing the game truly feels like interacting with an environment, rather than walking along a decision tree. The options at a given location depend on the character’s quests, the in-game time, and the characters around the ball. The game is filled with meaningful interactivity, yet the choices available are always clear and well-defined. 9/10.
Presentation: The setting and tone of the game evoke a strong sense of 17th or 18th century European aristocracy, but without tying it to any particular country. (The use of “canton” suggests Switzerland, but I didn’t see any other details that would point toward that specific of a location). It’s definitely not a generic fantasy setting, and there are enough real-world details mixed in with invented details to make the setting recognizable but creative. The conversations in the game are enjoyable to read, and even characters the protagonist meets only briefly have clear personalities. 8/10.
You might be interested in this game if: You like games about political intrigue.