I am feeling brain sluggish today, so I don’t have anything super smart to tell you. The end of the semester is coming up, as some of you might be aware of, and that is a draining, horrific time for everyone in the world.
That said, Krystian Majewski wrote a cool bit about Suikoden versus the Mass Effect franchise at Game Design Scrapbook. He is 100% correct in all ways, and I really think he is on to something when he mentions the large cast of characters and how they play out with one another in the story:
Clustering – With 108 characters, one would assume it’s easy to lose track of them all. After all, there is this legend that humans can only remember 7 items at once. And sure, there are some forgettable characters among them. But it’s not as chaotic as the sheer number would suggest. I was actually surprised how meaningful and memorable the characters were. I think one reason for this is that the game used multiple layers of clustering. Characters are not just random items you collect. Certain characters belong together. So for example, some characters have relationships and ties with each others. There are lovers, friends and families. You act out those relationships in the story. Some characters only join you if you bring another character they know with you.
If we are going to be honest, this is really the place where the game shines. The story is impossibly terrible. It strings you along on a strange journey that makes no sense, and beyond the bare narrative (“We are all now rebels!”) it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
But the small stories that you get are amazing. The little dreams of each of the 108 characters, and especially figuring out how to appease them and bring them all together, is a really great feeling. Figuring out how to accomplish that organically is amazing, and I am sure that those who puzzled out the harder recruitments felt really rewarded at the end. My solution was to go through the game with a pen and paper so I could write down all the recruitable members that I met, where they were, and what I thought I would have to do to get them. I think I finished the game with maybe 60 rebels.
Oh, and Mass Effect literally does nothing right as far as recruited members go.