Monday, June 12, 2017

Review #399: Suikoden

 War never changes.
 15 years have passed since the liberation of Sol-Falenas, but the world of Suikoden is not a peaceful place, this we shift our attention towards the Scarlet Moon Empire. Tir McDohl, son of one of the greatest generals in the army is the game's hero, who soon comes into contact with one of the 27 True Runes, comes face to face with corruption and must lead the rebel armies against his own kingdom. It's Suikoden alright. While it lacks the layers of depth the rest of the franchise has, the story is pretty darn interesting, and there're more than a fair share of surprising twists and shocks, keeping the player invested all throughout the 20ish hours it takes to complete.

 As with the rest of the franchise, this is a turn-based RPG with three different battle types: When exploring dungeons you'll engage in random encounters, and these turn-based battles are just what you'd expect. Six man parties, unite-attacks between certain units, Runes(Magic) and items. Customization is a bit more limited, understandably since this was the first game in the series, since characters can only equip one rune and one rune only. The inventory is a bit weird as well, each character can carry about 10 items, and that's your total inventory, and while you can swap items around inventories, you can't trade them with other items, so you have to make space in a character's inventory if you want to give them a new piece of equipment for them to equip. It's a bit archaic, but nothing you can't get used to. One of my biggest peeves with the game is how much the game forces certain party members on to you. About 70 of the 108 recruitable characters can be taken into battle, but frequently the game will force you to use specific characters, which means that, most of the time, you've only got two free slots for characters that you actually want to use. Pro tip: Keep Victor and Flik up to date, since they'll be in your party any chance they get, the last dungeon included.
 Strategic Battles are the second mode of battle, and these represent Wars. These are... pretty lame and underwhelming. Basically, you and the enemy choose between Bow, Charge or Magic, and they have a rock-paper-scissors relationship. The worst part about these battles is that party members may die permanently. Then, lastly, we've got duels, which also work with a rock-paper-scissors relationship between Attack, Defend and Special. They lack the excitement that future games would adorn these duels with, but they're inoffensive at worst and amusing at best.

 Basically, Suikoden 1 is quite fun and entertaining, but future games manage to make it feel somewhat outdated. 1 Rune per character, NPCs that sometimes block your way when they move around towns, not being able to run without wasting a rune slot with the Speed rune, less than convenient inventory systems, lame Strategic battles, just 20 hours long etc. Still, the plot is pretty good, which is what matters the most in JRPGs and the battle system is pretty fun, a taste of things to come. It's easy to recommend, just keep expectations in check.
 7.5 out of 10

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