The Tragic Code of the "Child of the Sea God"
Updated: Aug 18
Troy is a character from Suikoden IV and one of the characters I was most impressed by as a kid. In a way, he is the ultimate anti-villain. He was a villain only because he was with the enemy faction, and nothing more, for he was a moral and noble man. Even when the main antagonists of the game committed genocide against an innocent island nation and even had their own minions there, Troy was the only one in the enemy faction to actually protest against the terrible weapon that was used.
Although portrayed as the key enemy of the game, he is rarely seen throughout the game because he is merely a pawn in a greater scheme and is only mentioned due to his being the main character's nemesis, and an excellent soldier and admiral.
Despite his good nature, he followed a code of loyalty to his heartless nation to the point of death. He is only encountered twice in the game, and arguably he is the only enemy in the entire game who was willing to spare you, the hero. The allies that you happen to fight do not count, even when faced as opponents.
In fact, the main reason I'm even bringing this obscure villain up is not because of my adoration for him but because of how he sees death and killing. For "Sir Troy", defeat through death is something honorable, worthy only of opponents who are strong enough to face him and remain formidable. It is a strange form of meriocracy, and a warrior's code.
The only reason the game is beaten is because he chose to spare the hero (canonically named Razro) and his companions, when he could've killed them all, here and there, on their first encounter. His reason for this decision was that "the sea will decide their fate" (the game is mostly naval, set around a group of islands). There was nothing stopping him but his own philosophy. No external resistance, no disobedient soldiers. Only him and "the sea". Whether or not the sea is an entity, remains unknown.
Apparently, he was so renowned among his nation that he was considered a war hero and has been granted a peculiar title: "The Child of the Sea God". Who is that "Sea God" entity is unclear, and yet even those who have only heard of Troy knew him by that title. When he tells his henchmen that "the sea will decide their fate", he raises a somewhat religious tone, as if the entire sea is a living entity, a god. Nonetheless, he dislikes being called by the very title he was honored with. This also reveals his modest character.
The "Sea God", like with Troy, has spared the protagonist and his followers. Because of that, they eventually managed to build an opposition force, strong enough to defeat the main villain and Troy himself. That also applies to their fleets, which were decimated.
The first fight with Troy is the only fight in the game where you are supposed to lose. In some games, you can beat "unbeatable" battles through mostly cheating, but in this game, Troy is the only enemy who, at the time, has infinite health, meaning he cannot be defeated even if you tried. I believe this symbolizes the fact that you are extremely weak against him and are unworthy to be killed by him. See this an indication of Razro's hero's journey.
As you can see, this code of honor backfires on him, and he accepts it with complete grace. The game's final fight is with him once more. This time, you're fighting against him in his sinking ship, which he sailed as the last man standing. Even when his entire fleet is under the sea and his castle is decimated, he seems untouched by these facts. It could frustrate many other warlords and the like, but not him. This time, you're supposed to win.
When defeated, the hero returns to his ship. Then, you are given a final decision -- accept his death or ask him to join you. This is a very dramatic decision, and yet it won't change anything. Even if you ask him to join, he will refuse, for he is a man who knows to accept victory the same way he can accept defeat -- even if it's his death -- with dignity.
A true warrior; a naval samurai. He who lives by the blade, dies by the blade. Beyond opposition to the island-destroying weapon mentioned earlier, he shows no regret or protest. If "the sea" or his nation dictates it, he will live or he will die. With his undying loyalty, he serves and accepts his role as a mere pawn, despite his moral greatness. It can be compared to the loyalty of historic and Nationalists Japanese to their Emperor.
I was told once by my former master that Socrates used to invent gods when he philosophized. That frustrated the public and the Athenian government. Troy very much reminds me of that eccentric philosopher, being a "ying" to his "yang" in a way.
To both, their lives did not matter, for they served a purpose greater than their own, if reality dictates so. For Socrates, it was philosophizing; for Troy, it was war. Ultimately, both died because of their loyalty to the State. Both could've been redeemed, but both refused without protest.
As I contemplate that obscure game from Japan, with an inaccessible title to the rest of the world, I find myself more and more relating to it. That is why I mention it often in my articles. Even though many who have played it would say it is a very bad game. Or, at the very least, mediocre. And yet, it has been haunting my dreams throughout my life, beginning in elementary school and continuing into adulthood, even when I stopped playing it for years.
For some reason, this "very bad" game appears to teach me a lot. About life, about myself. It made me despise disposability, appreciate the little details, be naive, and strive to be friendly and good.
When thinking about that game, it seems that there was only one truly evil villain, while the rest of them were eventually converted to good. One was a coward, the other a naive fool. A third, an atoner; and the fourth is a wise old man and his son -- a skeptic of command.
The "ultimate" villain, the last one whom you need to defeat in order to beat the game, technically kills himself by letting his ship sink, losing himself to the depths of the ocean. Every character in that game appears to have a justification for their villainy or naughtiness, making them not as evil as they seem. Only one, a backstabbing manipulator, is worthy of being called evil.
Perhaps because of that whole experience, I find it extremely difficult to see the evil in people. Even when I am told that they are evil, even by my own haters, I still try to reason their motives as if they were characters from that game. When I realize there are at least 3 types of moral evil -- chaotic, neutral, and lawful -- I still can't truly comprehend the concept of evil as something to be condemned without paying full attention to a justifying motive or goal.
In the end, I learned from Troy the value of being loyal to a philosophy. He is a self-respecting warrior. He was defeated. Therefore, he must die. Some may call him a fool, for he was given a generous chance of redemption, but he refused it, and that refusal is better than a lifetime of betraying his code, the code of the "Sea God".
This is how philosophy, even when noble, can be fatal to the one who practices it. Because should they not die by it, they can easily become a hypocrite of their own making.
In a way, due to his honor, Troy allowed himself to be drawn to death. When your philosophy kills you, it is problematic. Socrates was loyal to a two-faced society, like Troy was loyal to a dysfunctional, divided empire.
Playing so much of this game through childhood, I eventually began speaking and expressing myself in its language by default, inevitably. People called me a robot, a pretender, a bullsh*tter, and a condescending man as a result of that, but in the end, all I did was remain true to my word, as did Sir Troy.
When told that the matter has been settled, by the one who beats Troy, Troy says:
"Yes, it has. I remained true to myself until the end. I remained A warrior... You have my gratitude".