Suikoden Tierkreis review
Suikoden branches out, in more ways than one.

The good:

It's Suikoden
108 characters to recruit
Original story

The bad:

Set in a new world which means no returning characters
Voice overs
Simple battle system
Way too easy


If there was any reason for me to buy a DS, it would be Suikoden. For those unfamiliar with the series, Suikoden is a popular RPG series in Japan that has stayed loyal to the Playstation for over a decade. That is until now of course. Tierkries takes Suikoden in a new direction, and not just console wise. While retaining most of the aspects that make the Suikoden series so lovable, it completely unlinks itself from the Suikoden world for the first time in the series history. This is great for newcomers, but certainly disappointing for long time fans.

Each main Suikoden game (1-5) has 108 recruitable characters, most of which are playable. While some characters don’t have much depth, most have a decent amount of history and development. This is amazing considering how many characters there actually are. One of the most enjoyable aspects of Suikoden is seeing them appear in multiple games and discovering what they’ve been doing for the past several years between games. Suikoden Tierkries is set in an entirely new world, so this enjoyable aspect is lost. There are 108 new allies this time. This was a big disappointment initially, until I got used to the fact it was a standalone title, completely unrelated in every way (plot and character wise).

Once again, having a completely new world means a completely fresh story. This too was initially a disappointment but fortunately the story still contained familiar plot devices that made the main Suikoden games of the past so good. Once again, there’s a war between nations and the plot is packed with enough twists and turns to keep you engaged the whole way through. The story follows Hero (unnamed protagonist), a young country town orphan who doesn’t know where he was born, or who his real parents are. The game begins with Hero and his close friends; Jale, Marcia, Liu and Dirk, travelling to a nearby forest and discovering a magical book that grants them special abilities. From here the story begins to take off and these young heroes eventually find themselves fighting in a war against a nation trying to force the world to adopt the philosophy “One World! One Future!”, which will result in everyone taking a predetermined path in life. While the excitement of past game references is inexistent, the plot still manages to maintain the Suikoden feel. It’s not on par with other Suikoden games, but it was still enough to keep me engaged all the way through.

I was very glad to see the game hold on to the 108 character tradition. Basically, the Hero must travel around the world and recruit the 108 stars of destiny, which will help him win the war. Most of the main characters were quite interesting and some developed quite a bit along the way. Obviously we are told next to nothing about some characters due to the vast amount of them, but the balance was still good. After all these years of playing Suikoden games, spending hours hunting for recruits is still a blast.

The battle system was quite enjoyable, although it definitely took a step backwards from the rest of the series. The first thing I’ll complain about is only being allowed to use four characters at a time in battle. Traditionally, there are six in battle and this is a perfect number considering the amount of warriors you can use. Four is not enough, especially since characters are forced into your party at most points of the game. The whole system is quite simple. There is a 2x3 grid, and the player can choose where to place the 4 party members. In battle, each character can attack, use a spell, defend, or use an item. Additionally, some characters can do combo attacks with other characters. There really isn’t much to it and the average player will pick up the mechanics in several fights. Here’s an image from a battle. The top screen displays the party members’ statistics, and the bottom screen is where the action happens.

If it wasn’t for the voice-overs, the sound would be pretty good. I must say that the Hero and certain other characters have some of the most annoying voices I have ever heard. Not only that, but the talking speed is incredibly inconsistent with the Hero. One minute he’ll be talking at normal pace, and the next he’ll be talking at a million words a second. You can still understand what he’s saying, but it is annoying! At least the music is good. Many of the tracks have a very Suikoden feel to them, which will please long time fans.

Another thing worth mentioning is the castle, which acts as a home base for all your characters. Like past Suikodens, the castle starts small with few characters inhabiting it, but grows in size as the plot progresses and as the Hero recruits more characters. For example, an empty room may turn into a shop once the shop keeper is recruited.

While it doesn’t compare to the main Suikoden games, Suikoden Tierkreis is still a very enjoyable standalone RPG that all fans of the genre should go out and play. Long time fans may be disappointed that it is set in an entirely different world, but if you play it for what it is, then I believe they will find it enjoyable too. If gamers new to the series enjoy it, your next move should be to hunt down past Suikoden games, as most of them are superior in just about every aspect.

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