I’ve finally finished this game at 51 hours. Here’s a little mini review.
It’s a rather traditional RPG in the Suikoden vein with a huge number of collectible characters. More characters than you could possibly use in fact. I think the biggest battle in the game only uses about 24 out of the 90 some characters that are playable.
You actually need to collect 108 characters to get the best ending in traditional Suikoden fashion. Around 15 of them are support only characters. The graphics are decent enough for a DS game. The storyline is actually quite deep and fully voiced. The main character’s voice is REALLY fast though. I wonder if they ran out of space and had to speed it up to fit?
Battle system is fairly traditional turn-based, with the standard Suikoden teamup attacks. Each character can pick 4 spells or abilities out of a maximum of 12 that they gain by the end of the game.
Storyline is quite interesting. The major enemies are Fatalists, believing that everything is planned out and that you can’t change the future. Add to that there is some force early on that is not only altering the world, but in the process altering everyone’s memories into thinking that the world had always been that way. Only 3 groups in the world are immune to that effect. The Starbearers, aka the 108 people that you find throughout the world, a tribe that has tattooed themselves, and the inner circle of the enemies you face. In a way, this is similar to the old game Okage: The Shadow King.
The similarities to Okage don’t end in the storyline area. The combat animations resemble Okage as well, with your characters charging in, often multiple characters at once, and attacking several times before retreating. The experience system is also similar, when you go to an area that is tough, you can often gain several levels at once before the experience levels off. Once you are high enough, enemies start giving you nearly nothing for experience. This goes well with the 108 playable characters though, because you can pull your characters into your party and quickly power them up to the same level. A very good system
This brings me to the negatives of the game though. Like many traditional RPGs, it has random battles. Those battles in most games are mitigated by the fact that either A. You gain enough experience through those random battles. B. You can avoid weaker monsters through spells like Repel or holy water. C. You can escape from dungeons to avoid unnecessary battles. In Suikoden Tierkreis, There’s no escape from dungeons, there are no spells for a quick escape, and those battles quickly become pointless as you gain nearly no experience from them after a certain point. To make this even worse, the game often makes you go to lower level areas to recruit characters or as part of the storyline. Sometimes it even teleports you straight into areas… but then it makes you walk all the way back out of those areas fighting very weak enemies… I imagine that they could have shortened the game by 25-30% by either giving you a teleport ability or an enemy avoidance ability.
The other problem is how it deviates from the true suikoden pattern. Most suikoden games, your characters have their own set weapons and they can’t be changed, all you can do is upgrade them. This one has a more traditional weapon system. Also, you have only 4 characters + a support, rather than the 6+support that most suikoden games use. This means that you’re not using nearly enough of your 108 characters. Lastly, there are no strategic battles anymore in the game, breaking a tradition that almost all of the prior suikoden games have followed.
In this, it’s a flawed but fun RPG that breaks the traditions of the series it belongs to. I hope to see more from the series, but hopefully something that resembles the rest of the series more.