Suikoden’s Viki takes an obligatory mechanic and makes it extraordinary

Teleportation mechanics aren’t uncommon in RPGs. These sorts of games can have huge worlds, which makes manually walking to places an unwelcome prospect. In some situations, there’s a simple spell that lets you instantly return to important places. Suikoden takes that idea and improves on it. Each of the numbered installments in the main series calls upon Viki, a young woman with an extraordinary rune, to add a little something extraordinary to an otherwise ordinary mechanic.

To understand how Viki does what she does, you first need to understand how magic and special skills work in the world of Suikoden. All abilities are tied to runes. These are attached to characters’ bodies or weapons, allowing these people to tap into the power within them. Viki is the bearer of the Blinking Rune. This means a player can send their avatar to talk to her in their base in Suikoden I through V to use the Blinking Mirror to probably teleport to a previously visited location.

The Blinking Rune is relatively unique in the Suikoden universe for many reasons. Its connection to Viki is the most important one. In each installment, it is a fixed rune for her. This means it can not be removed. It is not often available for other characters, with Suikoden II and Suikoden III being exceptions due to one being given as a gift in the second game and it being available as a dropped item, Goppu prize and treasure. It only has three in-battle skills in each game, with the Ready!, Set! and Go! spells involving teleporting one enemy (or ally) away, teleporting obstacles above an enemy (or ally) and teleporting all enemies (or all other allies) away.

Now, you probably noticed something was awry in that last sentence. I mentioned that the in-battle spells could do what they are supposed to, that is impacting an enemy, or they could backfire and have a detrimental effect on your party. Most games make teleportation a sure-fire ability or technology. Suikoden makes it seem less technical and more unpredictable. You could even say making it fallible creates something more believable and human. After all, no one is 100% accurate all the time. This influence extends to the Blinking Mirror in the base, meaning Viki could inadvertently mess up both in and out of battle.

Let’s go back to Viki herself, since Suikoden’s teleporting is so irrevocably tied to her. There are all sorts of concerns about how such a skill would work. Would the person using it be damaged in the process? How safe could instantaneous travel be? With this young woman, we see the possible damaging aftereffects of being exposed to such a skill all of the time. She doesn’t always seem all “there.” She’s often anxious and disoriented, knowing she can use this unusual skill, but not knowing if she will pull it off correctly each time. Any distraction, such as sneezing, can send her or other people to some unknown place.

The introduction of a second, younger Viki in Suikoden III might make people further question the ethics of teleportation. Her younger self is much smarter and more together. She is well-spoken and wise, perhaps even more adept at using the Blinking Rune, and has a tendency to teleport people who question her, like Kidd the detective, into increasingly dangerous situations in order to silence them. She seems to be the same Viki. She’ll only join your party if Viki is with your party when leaving Karaya Village and heading to the mountain path, possesses the same fixed rune and wears the same attire. This would mean there is clear mental deterioration from possession and use of the particular Blinking Rune this woman possesses. Her constant use of it takes her from a possible child genius to a young woman who has trouble pulling off spells and staying in one place and time.

That’s another element that adds intrigue to Suikoden’s resident teleporter. It is heavily suggested in the games that Viki is capable of doing more than teleporting through space. She seems to be a time traveler as well. Suikoden and Suikoden II plant the idea in our heads. The original game takes place during the Toran Liberation War, with Tir McDohl becoming the leader in In Solis 455 in the series’ timeline. Suikoden II’s Dunan Unification War took place in IS 460. That is a five year gap. Viki missed the victory feast in the first game after a sneeze caused her to unintentionally teleport, which brought her straight to the period of time when she is recruited in Suikoden II.

We also see the suggestion that she is participating in events “out of order” due to the Blinking Rune and its teleportation spells. She and Lorelai are part of our armies in Suikoden, Suikoden II and Suikoden V. Suikoden V, a game set in IS 449, establishes that Viki and Lorelai should know each other from a previous incident where the former saved the latter and Killey from a Deep Twilight Ruins trap. However, Viki does not recognize Lorelai. It can be seen as evidence that she had that experience sometime later, even though it has already happened, chronologically speaking.

Finally, there is the suggestion that there is something more to Viki in all of these installments. Remember the runes I mentioned earlier? In addition to more common runes, there are True Runes. These are essentially gods upon which the very fabric of the Suikoden universe is based. Since these are actually sentient beings, they pick their wielders and offer power beyond ordinary versions of such runes. There are many details about Viki that suggest she not only bears a True Rune, but one that could be considered cursed.

So many details point to it being something special. One is its fixed nature. Ordinary runes can be removed. If someone in a Suikoden game has a rune that can not be removed, odds are it is a True Rune that has chosen them. Viki’s Blinking Rune can not be removed. It also seems to have capabilities beyond the normal Blinking Runes we find in certain games. Those never teleport their bearers across time, and it absolutely seems like Viki is time-traveling between installments. While there is evidence that the True Runes can stop aging, we have seen known bearers like Luc and Sasarai look different between games, as though they have aged, so it could be they only delay them. The detrimental effects on Viki’s memory and mind could be due to it being a cursed True Rune, as these have been known to take a toll on their bearers’ bodies.

Suikoden’s Viki is something special. This is a case of a concept being elevated beyond a specific spell and given its own distinct personality and lore. The woman privileged enough to wield this Blinking Rune is as much of a mystery as the rune itself. All we know for certain is that we are seeing the same Viki in the first five games and Genso Suikogaiden Vol. 2 spin-off and that she is a constant hit-or-miss teleporter. It definitely spices up a rather typical mechanic.

  • Roshea

    This is such a comprehensive column and it’s my favorite one so far regarding this video game series. Suikoden Week was a great idea!

    Reply

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