The 15 Greatest Women in Video Games

11.  Lucretia Merces (Suikoden V)

120220The games in the Suikoden series involve large-scale war and political intrigue, which means that the player character (always a silent adolescent male with about as much personality as a nude mannequin) needs a serious battle strategist. Many of these strategists are women, but it took Konami five games to create Lucretia, the most dynamic character of them all, and perhaps the only one who seems like she has a real life outside of those war-room scenes.

Lucretia’s backstory involves spending two years in prison after working for a certain nation of warmongers, during which her charisma and genuineness won the hearts of her two guards, Lelei and Cius, both accomplished soldiers, who supplied her information about what was going on in the world during her incarceration. Upon her exeunt, Lelei and Cius swore to protect Lucretia, abandoning their posts and traveling with her until she became official war strategist to the Prince of Falena (the player). In essence, this makes Lucretia the head of an organized rebel military battling a usurping occupation force. Long scenes are dedicated to Lucretia’s planning, and where she could have been a character who simply pointed her finger (or feathery fan) and said, “Um, we should kill all the enemies,” she is instead forced to make difficult decisions, such as whether to direct her soldiers to (if possible) spare a certain regimen of enemy troops due to the fact that they are young draftees and not evil zealots happily murdering in the name of Lord Marscal Godwin (a villain whose name and mustache are just a little too close to this guy’s). The player can be punished via lost resources, dead party members, or just a tongue-lashing from other characters for ignoring Lucretia’s stratagems, emphasizing the developers’ intent for Lucretia to be an experienced and competent leader.

Lucretia isn’t all business and violence, however. She and Lelei, the female soldier who has devotedly followed her for years, share the only intimate relationship in Lucretia’s life. Initially, Lucretia seems either oblivious to or deliberately distant from Lelei’s obvious affection, but scenes in which no one else is around (i.e. outside of work) reveal some reciprocation, however implicit. Their relationship is the most talked-about will they/won’t they in the Suikoden universe, and a pre-final-battle scene in which we fade to black after Lelei suggests that the two of them “stay up just a little longer,” coupled with the epilogue in which Lucretia turns down the position of Prime Minister in order to vanish into the night with Lelei, is more than enough to cement the romance in the minds of players.

Regardless of whether you read her as a romantic who’s really good at compartmentalizing or as a genius manipulator, Lucretia is a brutally pragmatic yet sympathetic addition to a series brimming with multi-talented women and well-depicted LGBTQ characters.




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