I have only played 2 games of this criminally underrated series and their plot and story-telling are something I think more RPG's should be taking note s from.
*English's not my first language, so sorry for mistakes.
Suikoden I ----------plot----------- (PS1)
On the first game you have father vs son. Your father is a knight that made an oath to the kingdom to protect it always no matter what but the king went rotten (there are reasons about why he went rotten too). During a surprise attack to the castle while the father/knight and army were outside fighting on another region, the protagonist (you) end up fleeing and wandering outside the borders. During this Journey the protagonist sees all the atrocities the king has done and he ends up joining in a small band of rebels. Later on, some shit happens, the protagonist becomes the leader and you start building your own army to fight the king and your father.
^ that shit right there is simple, is tragic, it's fucking awesome. Especially the part of you forming an army because well... You do build both, your own castle and army little by little. And the combat system is split into 3 completely different mechanics:
1. traditional turn based with 6 characters.
2. anticipating an opponent's attack on a 1-on-1 fight depending on the mood.
3. a rock/paper/scissor kind of mechanic when fighting an army vs army. I think it was something like: archers beat magic, magic beat on-foot soldiers, etc. etc.
Below: sucky graphics, incredible game.
Suikoden III ---------plot-------- (PS2)
Never played Suikoden II but I hear it's the best one in the series. Now Suikoden III? I loved it. The game starts by telling you that there has been a war between races going for so long people already forgot why they were even fighting for. This game has 3 protagonists and 3 points of view. In one you're a woman that is a knight called Chris, an african/indian inspired kid called Hugo and an old rebel that still looks young despite being like 200 years old called Geddoe. This game has a much more complex plot than the first game so I'm not gonna dwell too much on it because it would take me a lot of more words to explain. But there's a particular incident at the beginning of the game that really blew me away and that it is central to the theme this game's proposing.
A 3rd party enemy no one knew about killed many soldiers from the kingdom and made it look like it were the african/indian race who did it. In retaliation the woman knight went with some soldiers to burn down the village of the african/indian race, but because she had a big heart she gave strict orders to not kill anybody (she was arrogant enough to believe this was possible). But in that village everyone's trained to either be a warrior or a hunter since when they are born, so they fought back without fear to protect it. Because it was a surprise attack the african/indian people did not stood a chance and the knights murdered nearly everyone including children and women even though that wasn't their intention.
At the moment of the attack the protagonist kid (who was the son of the chief of the village) was just returning back home with his best friend after delivering a letter to the kingdom in which they were agreeing to form an alliance for peace (very ironic I know but that's what makes it even more delicious!). At this very moment the friend of the protagonist blind in rage tries to attack the woman knight from the back but she is then warned by a soldier and she slashes the child to kingdom come without any prejudice.
At this point I was broken and crying like a little girl at the marvelous story-telling that this game had. The woman/knight having to deal with her arrogance and hypocrisy, the kid hate's her guts... How are the 3 protagonist gonna collaborate to fix this mess? That's the question that will make you play the game from beginning to end. It's sooo good....
Amazing intro below!