Part 2: Fifty Shades of BrownWell, it seems we're being unoriginal this time too.
This name entry theme sure sounds familiar! And I suppose I'm okay with naming our character after the Norse god of having a great big tonker.
...yeah, that's what you get. Now, where were we...
That's right: Sol-Falena. Apparently we were just about to have a flashback and maybe find out why everyone looked so gloomy back on that boat.
Oh, I get it: it was because they just came back from a vacation in a first person shooter.
One of the most beautiful towns in the Queendom of Falena? Known for its pristine waters and lush woods...? Damn, I heard it was bad. Never imagined it was THIS bad, though...
Yeah, this is definitely Lordlake. The town that used to be one of the most beautiful places in the Queendom. At least it used to be...
But clearly not any more.
Lordlake is a shithole.
Dry and dusty.
Fortunately, much of it is blocked off right now. It won't take too long to see everything the town has to offer.
And then there are the people.
My name is Talgeyl. I've been somewhat of a town representative here ever since His Lordship passed away.
We'll get more details on that shortly.
I would love to offer to show you around but, sadly, this town needs no guide. As you can see, there is nothing here but scorched dirt and bleary townsfolk. I'm afraid our residents might be rather impolite to you at times. I do hope you can forgive them...
And then we have gameplay. (And music.)
I may have mentioned how Suikoden V is better than its predecessor in just about every way. One of the particularly noticeable things it very clearly does not do better is camera control. Remember how in IV we could fuck around with the camera and even do shit like this?
Well in Suikoden V, we can do this,
And that's all. Camera control is quite frankly shite and I predict I will largely forget it even exists and leave it zoomed out because that way I can actually see where I'm going. There must surely be a reason for this step back, and I like to think it's because areas are larger and have more shit going on in them than in the previous game, and they needed to cut down on the details and textures in order to make that happen. Since we live in a world where Bioware got away with not allowing people to holster their weapons in a game with half as many playable characters a whole generation of consoles later because of "memory limitations" I'd say it sounds plausible, but I suppose we'll never really know.
Anyway, to get back to the whole video game thing. Lyon will be following behind us at all times and we can talk to her for a comment on the situation at hand. Presently...
This is terrible...
I'm inclined to agree.
We weren't trying to revolt -- nothing of the kind, we swear it! We only wanted to make our voices heard! Somehow, it simply spun out of control.
This feels kind of shitty, almost like we're on the wrong side or something!
Item Vendor: They ask me every day, and I tell them the same thing... We're out of medicine, out of antidote, out of everything...
We can also talk to the other two in this image.
Armor Vendor: Armor can't guard against disease. It can't keep out hunger. What's the point?
Neither of them sounds very hopeful.
Her Majesty knows full well how things stand here. It's her doing, after all. Every last bit of it.
Joy. Let's check the inn behind him.
...no, I don't suppose I do.
Does this look like justice to you?
He has a portrait so he must be important, but I don't think this is the right time to ask him to join my party. You can also see another person on the lower right.
Townswoman: The only water we have left is a few stagnant puddles crawling with disease. Each mouthful is a dance with death. *cough* *cough* We can't raise any crops. Everyone is slowly starving. *cough* There's so much illness here... So much despair... *cough* And the Queen has threatened to punish any doctor who comes here.
I can't make witty comments about this.
Despite all that, the house next to the dried-up fountain is a clinic.
Child: My tummy hurts...
Townswoman: Are you all right?! Hey! Hey, wake up! Talk to me, talk to me...
A doctor? B-But I thought...
Female Doctor: Royals, hmm? Don't tell me you came all the way out here just to shut me down.
A tall woman in a white coat comes down the stairs.
Well, how do you like it? Enjoying all that scorched earth?
That's some welcome!
Oh, I'm sorry. The red carpet burned to a crisp a while back. Want me to bow down and kiss your feet?
I thought doctors were supposed to treat burns, not deliver them, but I can't exactly say I blame her.
No, that's all right. We get enough of that back home.
Home, huh? These people had one of those once. Why don't you get back to yours and leave them alone?
Hell of a sharp tongue.
D-Did we do something wrong?
You mean, besides... all THIS?
...You're upsetting my patients. Think they're HAPPY to see you? They're weak enough as it is, and your being here is NOT helping.
I-I see... All right, then.
Sorry to bother you, miss.
Just forget it.
The party files out. Lyon stays just long enough to bow.
Past the inn and clinic, there's a brief scene.
No, not unless they sail down roads around here.
This used to be a canal... filled with beautiful, sparkling water...
And it dried up so fast, they didn't even have time to move their boats? Man...
The dry canal is more or less the halfway point here. We have to walk across it to proceed
It's mostly notable because the camera shifts so you can see where you're going on the way up.
It's the foolish men who got us into this, with all their shouting and posturing... And we women should have stopped them, so it's our fault too. But... It's been two years now. Haven't we suffered enough? ...Haven't we?
I imagine the prince just awkwardly shuffles his feet and doesn't say anything.
Townswoman: What? What do you want?! Are you "inspecting" me? What's all this about, anyway? Come to gloat over your "victory"? Look at what you've done! Look at it!
This one was visible on the previous shot (under the dialogue box).
And then the new sun burned the trees, and the flowers, and the water... Daddy said it's 'cause the Queen got angry. But I don't get it! Why's she mad at me?
That's a good question, and one I'm sure the player is also asking themselves at this point.
...I think I preferred the honest bitterness to this feeble attempt at sucking up to us. Let's see what the guy on the bridge has to say.
Old Townsman: I thought Queen Arshtat was different from all those other monarchs. Wise and kind, and all that.
I thought so too.
And all this from the Rune that's supposed to bring "peace"? *spit*
That's... that's not how True Runes work. I'm surprised it left the houses standing, to be honest.
His wife, and his children, they were all so beautiful and happy together. And then THIS happens. And THEY take the blame!
Frey manages to stave off depression long enough to loot the game's first treasure chest. Then he feels guilty about it.
This is the last person in the village. Now all that's left is the big house on the left.
A scene starts when we cross the bridge.
Don't ask me why Frey has black sideburns here. It looks like the texture failed to load, and it's the only time it happened. Here's hoping it doesn't turn into another "Lazlo's swords" thing.
So tragic to see something so magnificent reduced to this...
It's Rovere's mansion. Rovere used to be the lord of this region.
...He and his entire family were executed, weren't they?
For a game "inspired by" the Chinese classic, Suikoden tends to be rather disneyfied despite the blood and violence. But this was apparently a thing they did back then. Someone wronged you? Kill their entire family - that ought to teach them!
We don't have a choice in this matter. Sialeeds won't let us shirk our duty.
The place is a big mess.
This is the only thing of value left in the building. We can also talk to Lyon while we're here:
The mansion used to have this beautiful view of the lake...
We'll just have to go out and take a look. (The scene is included in the previous video.)
It looks about as good as you'd expect, given the state of the canal. (music)
Unbelievable. This is even worse than the rumors...
That... used to be a lake...
The water was so clear, you could even see the fish on the bottom. There were so many ducks and geese, too.
We were just kids the last time we were here, so we wanted to go explore it, of course. But just as the Prince and I were about to set out, his attendants stopped us.
"You're not supposed to let them catch you!" he told us.
Lord Rovere said the same thing, and laughed...
Unfortunately, this town... has indeed felt Arshtat's wrath.
Suddenly, Georg notices something in the distance.
Huh? Is something wrong?
They seem to be panicked about something. Let's go check it out.
(But not before we grab this. Hey, if they left it here for that long, clearly no one else wanted it.)
A scene begins once we get close to them.
No! I said no, Goesch!
Keep moving, guys. It's not your problem.
Talgeyl turns to Frey's group.
It's one of the children... He left for the forest watering hole, and hasn't come back. It's dangerous! There are beasts out there! We told him to stay away, but he just wouldn't listen!
Hey, it's not the kid's fault. He was just looking for a little clean water. His friends needed it! I'm gonna go look for him! Don't try to stop me, Talgeyl!
I said no! Have you seen those beasts these days? THey'll devour you! You're not going!
So, what are you saying?! We just leave Toma out there to die?!
That's not what I'm saying!
I was just thinking the same thing.
I can't let you do that.
This one is a bit poorly worded. The other choice is "Sure, I'll wait." but that makes it seem like we're saying not to save the helpless child from rabid wolves, when instead...
Huh...? B-But what about the boy?
He's right, Lyon. You're supposed to be his bodyguard, after all. Where he goes, you go. So come on, Frey, let's go!
...what we really mean is we can't let her off on her own.
It'd be nice if we could do something for these people. And besides, anything is better than staying here.
J-Just a moment! We can't let you do this. It would be too--
Yeah! This has nothing to do with you guys. Now if you'll excuse me...
Trust me, we can handle this. We do this sort of thing for a living.
When Georg says it, it's hard to argue.
V-Very well, then.
So he doesn't.
Talgeyl, what are you--
Good luck, and thank you.
...now let's just hope we can actually get to him in time.
This guy will stand aside now, so we can access...
...the first dungeon in the game, for a very loose definition of dungeon. (And our first taste of dungeon music as well.)
Before we get into a bunch of fights and shit, let's look at what we have to work with. Georg comes in at level 20 with the rest of the group considerably less awesome (but due to how experience works in Suikoden games, they'll all end up around the same level in the end).
The stats are more or less the same as always, but we also have affinities for all the magical and physical damage types in the game. We can also see that Frey has two skills equipped - that's all we get this time around. Skills generally improve your stats, and it should be fairly obvious what these ones do. Skills can be switched around at any time, but you can only upgrade them with the help of special trainers.
As it happens, Georg is one. Combat Teacher allows us to fuck around with skills at any time we can access the menu, but it also takes up a permanent skill slot. (Georg is still awesome.)
And now, what we've all been waiting for! (For a given value of "we all". Shut up.) (Also battle music.)
If you're familiar with the series, you'll find V plays a lot like the first two games. You have your usual three-by-two formation with long, medium and short ranged attacks, runes, and all that jazz. There is more to it than that, but for now this is what we've got to work with.
As you can see, Georg doesn't just beat the others in levels, but he deals more damage than the rest of the party put together as well.
He also sometimes does this, which is like a critical hit except it's not (as evidenced by it stacking with one here.) This is the Charge ability, which is unique to Georg. It triggers reasonably often and doubles his damage.
Then there's this. Aside from skills, characters have more or less hidden abilities like "weapon defence" and countering, as shown here. Currently all our close-range fighters have access to weapon defence; Frey can counter, but Lyon can't, and Sialeeds - who is a long-ranged attacker/caster - has no such abilities.
You can control the autobattle function somewhat from the options menu, by ordering characters to target random foes or gang up on the one with the most or least HP, but this is not too important since you'll control it manually any time you get into a fight that actually matters. I'll probably leave it on "low HP" so I can get rid of things faster.
(The Hero's Voice option, much like in IV, lets you change the pitch of the prince's combat grunts between "more manly," "less manly" and the self-explanatory "off." Clearly, Frey is the manliest of men, so we'll stick with A.)
The dungeon is fairly simplistic. It has a few branches with dead ends and a couple of chests with generic meds in them. Nothing terribly exciting, but then it is a sort of tutorial. Since you have Georg, you'd have to try really hard to actually die here.
Not very far in, we come across a... puddle.
He must've come here...
But why come all the way out here...?
Uh, do you see any OTHER water around...?
Come on. He ought to be close by.
So he is. In fact,
...we transition straight into the next scene.
...and now I wish I hadn't.
Ulse?! Attacking people?!
Not the time!
Lyon runs after him.
Less talking, more killing werewolves!
The boy manages to roll under this one but...
...can't get away.
I can't believe you assholes would attack a harmless kid like that. By order of Frey, prince of Falena,
your dick license is revoked.
The ulse are only marginally more dangerous than the random encounters in this area (Georg has already killed one.) Still, they get boss music.
Frey and Sialeeds take the opportunity to show off their unite attack, Royal Power. Frey smacks the enemies with his stick...
...and Sialeeds hits them with her boomerang ring thingamajigs.
Unites in Suikoden V are largely quite boring. The majority of them just consist of the characters attacking with their regular animations. I would guess this is one of those space saving things and that they didn't program unique animations because it'd make battles load even slower than they already do, but it is disappointing.
Frey and Lyon also have one, and it's even more boring than the last. Lyon attacks...
...and then Frey follows up.
Oh, and Georg actually missed here (which is a Thing That Does Not Happen) so Sialeeds gets to... show you that Wind of Sleep is still shit. Carry on then.
Victory theme! ...and they took away my stat-up screen again. Why, you fuckers, why?
The "Piece" items are new for this game. Collect four, and you can assemble them into a rune orb! The Boost Rune is new, so I'll make sure to show it off when we can actually assemble it.
The battle does not last long.
They sure looked awfully hungry...
More importantly, we seem to have accomplished our mission without anyone dying horribly! Well, no one with a unique model and portrait, at least.
Child: Huh...? Oh, uh...
I don't know why they call him "child" when they already told us his name is Toma.
But it's not important. Frey offers him a hand...
...but Toma slaps it away.
I think he's more surprised than hurt. (music)
Grampa said you were coming, but I didn't think you'd have the guts!
Who do you think brought all this to Lordlake, anyway?! Even those animals! They started attacking people because their forest is gone! They're hungry! Who knows how many people have been killed?!
He doesn't give us any opportunity to answer,
...but simply runs away, leaving the party wondering what the hell they're going to tell the queen.
Another early (and rather un-Frey-like) protagonist design. Like the last one, probably more practical than his final one.