"We'll have to jump for it," says Jowy Atreides as you stand side-by-side upon the clifftop. Before long, your unscrupulous captain and his Highland Army dissenters will storm the hill and finish you off. You've been done over by the establishment, one you once served so dutifully, and are now forced to make a decision that will eventually tear your friendship apart. You'll return to this same spot much further down the line, but will the system have warped you into a different person by then? That'll ultimately depend on the choices you make from hereon in. In the meantime though, you close your eyes, take a deep breath, and throw yourself into the river below.
The opening 20 minutes of Suikoden 2 is quite something. Almost at once, the player-named hero turns loyal soldier of the Junior Brigade, to enemy of the state, whilst parting ways with his closest friend along the way. His company is an overnight stay away from returning home, and the protagonist looks forward to reuniting with his sister. Instead he winds up on the run. In just 20 minutes, or thereabouts, we're shown themes of love, of loss, of friendship, of family, of uncertainty, of deception, of political and socio-political unrest, and of corruption - in less time than some modern titles take to conclude an opening cutscene.