After almost a decade of silence, fans of the JRPG series Suikoden had their prayers answered when a Kickstarter campaign for its spiritual successor was a huge success.
The creator Yoshitaka Murayama and former staff who worked on the Suikoden series have returned to bring Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes to their dedicated fans.
From the limited details that have been shared about Hundred Heroes, fans of the Suikoden series should be really excited as it looks like it could be a nostalgic affair.
However the game isn't coming out till 2023, but in the meantime developers Natsume Atari and Rabbit and Bear Studios are releasing the surprise prequel to Hundred Heroes called Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising follows the young aspiring treasure hunter called CJ who is searching for an item called a Rune lens as part of her village’s rite of passage.
Her quest takes her to New Neveah, a small mining town in the continent of Allraan. New Neveah has been hit with hard times since an earthquake opened up a quarry nearby, also revealing Runebarrows beneath the town.
This attracts adventurers and merchants alike looking to find fame and fortune. CJ just needs an explorer’s licence to continue her journey, but as it costs way beyond her means, so she strikes a deal with the acting mayor Isha to help the residents with requests in exchange for stamps.
Once she has enough stamps, she can get her licence. This thrusts the young CJ into an adventure that will see her meet a bright cast of characters while trying to uncover the secrets of the earthquake, the Galdean Empire and more.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising starts off with a very simple premise but develops into something more.
It is great to have an early glimpse into some of the characters who will be in Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes and get an early look into the foundations of the lore.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising looks lovely with its vibrant 2.5D anime art style that infuses aspects of various folklore into its overall aesthetic.
Each character model has a fantastic design with intricate details that enhance their characterisation.
I do adore the charming character sprites which are reminiscent of Super Nintendo and PS1 games, but some of the animations don't flow as well as they could.
The levels boast brilliant designs with each area offering something new to explore, with the scenery and backdrops elevating their overall appearance.
Enemies designs really vary with the bosses looking fantastic and menacing, giving players a sense of satisfaction once they are defeated.
The soundtrack is awesome, with each delightful theme invoking a sense of adventure, adding an extra atmosphere to every situation.
I do feel the game could use some voice acting to help elevate the well written but text-heavy cutscenes.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is an action RPG that is a mix of combat and platforming with quite a bit of town-building thrown into the mix.
The main gaming loop will revolve around CJ and co completing various tasks for the residents of New Neveah to help rebuild the town.
The majority of the missions will be fetching items for residents, which will in turn lead to players having to explore dungeons and defeat bosses.
There is also a lot of backtracking with areas being blocked by barriers that require players to trek back to New Neveah, get what they need and return.
Luckily the fast travel system is accessible from the get-go, which makes the experience a little less gruelling.
Each dungeon or area is pretty straightforward with some platforming elements, but players will mainly spend their time defeating enemies.
What is handy is that each character has their own life bar rather than sharing one and using a single potion will refill all three's health.
The three characters will also each have a particular skill that will improve the player’s exploration ability with more skills becoming available as they progress.
As I mentioned earlier there is quite a bit of town-building where players will be able to help the residents open up new shops and buildings.
New Neveah will serve as your base where players will be able to purchase and upgrade items, take mission requests and even use the Inn to receive buffs.
Combat is at the forefront of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, where players will control three different characters who are very diverse.
CJ can perform quick combos, Garoo is strong and can block while Isha has projectile magic.
Characters can be switched on the fly at any time and players can perform a link combo after landing a critical hit.
From the start the combat mechanics are very simplistic, but as players progress they will gain access to new weapons that will add extra skill and abilities to each character.
This vastly improves the combat experience allowing things to stay fresh and keep players engaged.
My only issue with this is that it takes a while to get going and players will only gain access to useful skills a lot later than expected.
There is a vast amount of enemies who all present different challenges, which is great as it will force players to constantly switch between each of the characters learning their move set, rather than sticking to one.
Boss battles are hit and miss with the early ones going down far too easy, but they dramatically improve as players progress into the latter stages of the game.
Players will also be able to revisit bosses, but they don't improve to match the player’s progress.
The RPG aspect of the game is what you would expect, with each character able to improve their stats by levelling up through gaining experience points from defeating enemies and completing missions.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is a charming introduction to the Eiyuden Chronicle, with a wonderful narrative and a great set of opening characters.
The game itself can feel very tedious and drawn out at times with its lengthy start game and lack of quest variety.
But once things get going it becomes a fun action RPG with a great amount of content to keep players engaged for a long period of time.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is out now on the Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X and Series S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5
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