Sp_ace is streaming again and brought TimesnewRoman along for the ride! After playing for two hours, we can only state: man, this world sucks.

Just before being born as Fredward Brante, we face our very first choice in our almost-lives. Are we going to stretch out our little baby fingers to the figure to the left, who emits mercy and comfort, or to the presence to the right, clad in an aura of authority and protection? Neither will do, we already made up our minds. We decide to smile at the shadow behind the two shapes emitting light. The shadow smiles back with a finger in front of their lips, as if to say “This is our little secret, Fredward”. We are left to wonder: Did we already screw up the life of this second-old-baby?

On this stream we are introduced to the bleak – like, really bleak – Arknian Empire, featuring Twin Gods, a glowing stick in the sky, the Brante family and an oppressive hierarchical class system that is a-okay with child abuse. Yes, you read that right. Yes, as we yelled out every 10 minutes at least, this world sucks. The title of the game, The life and suffering of Sir Brante, was not lying: there is plenty of suffering straight off the bat. In this visual novel, all of your choices matter, a point the game stresses multiple times in the beginning, although the consequences might only bite you in the ass later on.

Within the two-hour stream, we only manage to get to the ripe old age of six, but accumulate enough trauma to last a lifetime. You see, little Fredward is born a commoner, which means he literally has to suffer and can’t have anything nice. His mother and half-sister are commoners, while his father and half-brother (and absolute brat) Stephan are nobles, who get all the nice stuff. At age three, Fredward shoved Stephan – a NOBLE, gasp – an action rewarded by a motherly flogging. At four, Fredward saves his newborn baby brother from his mother who is about to shake the baby to death in a frenzy. Finally, at six, we meet the grandfather who makes even Stephan seem like an angel. Within a few minutes of meeting the geriatric nightmare, Fredward meets his end at the hands of granddad’s cane.

After this untimely demise, we get to meet the Twin Gods. In their wisdom, they decided that even though everything about this society must suck, at least you get to experience dying three times before the fourth death is your true death, no taking-backsies. It was at this point we called it a day, leaving freshly-risen Fredward behind for now. Worry not, however! We will revisit this ghoulish existence in another stream.

Sophie Paauw is currently studying Archaeology (BA) at Leiden University, working as an intern at VALUE, and recently wrote a thesis on how we shape material, material(-ity) shapes the past and the past shapes us… and how D&D plays into that, chiefly. Amongst other things, Sophie is interested in the narrative aspect of archaeology, and fascinated by the way the past, present and future find each other in stories and legend (and games, be that classic TTRPGs like D&D or one of the many video games they stream over on the VALUE twitch channel).

Corine Gerritsen is doing a PhD in the Playful Timemachines project at Leiden University. She is occupied with distinguishing those elements that make up the past in video games. With a background in ancient history, it is unsurprising she plays too many games with ‘Rome’ in the title. She is terrible at platformer-games, but great at being (morally) terrible in Crusader Kings, she enjoys adventuring in Skyrim, Assassin’s Creed or The Whitcher, and loves building cute houses in games as Valheim or Enshrouded. When not playing with pixels, she enjoys going to book cafes, buy gothic novels and fantasy books, and test the absolute weight limit of her bookshelf.
Twitter: @CorineGerritse3