The Suikoden games, with their large casts of characters and epic war stories, bring a unique flavor of their own. It’s a shame then that Konami hasn’t really done anything with the franchise for years now.
No new mainline Suikoden game has come out since 2006’s Suikoden V. Even the series’s mobile spin-offs, which Konami released in the years since, have all but petered out, with the last game coming out in 2012.
Of course, Suikoden fans already have an alternative to look forward to with Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, a spiritual successor that many former Suikoden staff successfully crowdfunded. However, that game is still at least a year away, and that’s before taking into consideration that most big-name crowdfunded titles usually get delayed.
For those looking to scratch that Suikoden itch right now without having to play the old games, there are a number of games that either capture a similar feel or have taken direct inspiration from it.
Without further ado, here are five games that can give you that Suikoden feeling.
1. Final Fantasy Tactics
If epic war stories are what you’re looking for, there is none that is more epic than the original Final Fantasy Tactics. While it’s a turn-based strategy RPG and not a more traditional JRPG, FF Tactics still gives you the same feeling of commanding a large cast of characters in the middle of a big war, while at the same time showing that war isn’t a joke and that lives are on the line.
The one big difference, at least in terms of the cast, is that instead of named characters with their own stories, most of the characters that make up the bulk of your forces in FF Tactics are random recruits who have no other role than to fill out your ranks. That’s not to say that FF Tactics doesn’t have a large cast of memorable characters—it does, and most do play important roles or have their own side stories. However, it admittedly isn’t to the same level as the 108 stars of Suikoden.
Now while both FF Tactics and the Suikoden games are quite old, one important thing is that FF Tactics has seen re-releases on modern hardware, something that sadly hasn’t happened for Suikoden.
2. Chrono Cross
Yet another game with an impressively sized cast of characters. Yes, it still pales in comparison with the ones seen in Suikoden games, but even then, 45 is already more than most other RPGs. In addition, it also provides that Suikoden-like challenge of having to find them all—not all of Chrono Cross’s characters automatically join the party, some will join depending on certain choices the player makes.
As for the rest of the game, Chrono Cross is already a classic on its own. The game expands on the original Chrono Trigger’s time travel-based story by going into the concept of alternate worlds. Combine that with a killer soundtrack by Yasunori Mitsuda and you have an experience you can’t miss. (Read:11 rockin’ video game soundtracks to listen to in your spare time)
As with FF Tactics, Chrono Cross has also seen modern re-releases, with a PlayStation Network version coming out in 2011—yes, it was for a previous generation, but that’s still more recent than any mainline Suikoden game.
3. Ni no Kuni 2
Ni No Kuni 2 brings with it a kingdom building mechanic that has your character going around and recruiting characters. If that doesn’t sound enough like Suikoden, then wait until you learn how many characters you can recruit: 103. Yes, Ni No Kuni is five characters short of having the same number of recruitable characters as the Suikoden series. The only catch is that only 6 of them are actually usable in your party, whereas Suikoden tended to have a larger portion of the 108 stars playable.
Large roster aside, Ni No Kuni 2 is yet another excellent JRPG. While it is an action-RPG, the combat system is designed that it almost feels like a classic menu-based one. One unique thing that the Ni No Kuni series has, however, is its pet characters. Similar to Pokemon or Persona, Ni No Kuni lets players have pet characters—called “Higgledies” in this game—fight alongside them.
Of course, no mention of Ni No Kuni is complete without mention of its art style. The games are made to look like a Studio Ghibli animated production and indeed the legendary studio was involved in the franchise’s creation.
4. Exit Fate
For any Suikoden fans looking for something as close a possible to the franchise and aren’t afraid of playing on mobile—something that shouldn’t be a problem for those who’ve played the spin-offs—there‘s Exit Fate. This freeware mobile game is best described as a mobile cross between Suikoden and Chrono Cross. The similarities are enough that menu sets that call back to both are actually unlockable in-game.
As for the game itself, Exit Fate has players recruiting up to 45 characters—yes, that’s less than half of Suikoden’s but still pretty good for a free game. Also just like Suikoden, it involves an unwitting hero finding his way in the middle of a war where he ends up eventually commanding a large force that may turn the tide of the conflict.
5. Dragon Age: Inquisition
If you’ve ever wondered what a modern, triple-A take on Suikoden with modern graphics would look like, then Dragon Age: Inquisition is probably the closest you’ll get. The third entry in Bioware’s Dragon Age fantasy RPG franchise bears just about all the hallmarks of a classic Suikoden game. Not only does it have a humongous cast of recruitable characters who you can then add to your fortress, it even allows you to go around and give them missions. The only thing missing is a true large-scale battle mode.
More importantly, DA:I captures that feeling of being part of a larger world and a grander story. There are hints of ancient forces playing in the background, with some even linked to the characters you can recruit. And then, it even lets you recruit the character from the previous game, Dragon Age 2’s Hawke, in a manner reminiscent of getting the first Suikoden’s Tir McDohl in Suikoden 2.
In addition, Dragon Age: Inquisition adds other unique things to the table. The game has a more fleshed out romance system for one, even allowing for non-binary pairings. All-in-all, it’s a great game without enough Suikoden in it to make you wonder if the developers didn’t want to make a proper Suikoden game in the first place.
And that’s it, five games that can give you that Suikoden feeling. While they’re not exactly Suikoden games—though some are really, really close—they capture enough of Konami’s classic series that they should tide any Suikoden fans over, at least until Eiyuden Chronicles comes out next year.
(Editor’s note: Or you could just play the original Suikoden.)