- Release Date (NA): May 10, 2022
- Release Date (EU): May 10, 2022
- Release Date (JP): May 10, 2022
- Publisher: 505 Games
- Developer: Natsume Atari and Rabbit & Bear Studios
- Genres: Action RPG
- Also For: Computer, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One
A couple of months ago, I had the chance to play a preview version of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, which is set to introduce the pre-war tales of characters who will eventually serve as companions in Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes when it launches next year. My time with the demo gave me a glimpse of what to expect from the game and while it showed promise, there were aspects in the demo that I wished to have seen fleshed out in the full game. Having now played the latter, the end result was something of a mixed bag regarding my expectations. So let’s go through these in this review.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising begins when CJ, an aspiring adventurer on a rite of passage quest from her family to find a worthy treasure, arrives at the town of New Navaeh. While CJ initially thought that this town might help her in her quest, the town itself needs more help than meets the eye. As a key stopover point for many adventurers - and bandits - venturing forth, treasure-hunting in the nearby mine, New Navaeh is bustling with newcomers who are setting camp in Outlander Lane, often drawing a bad reputation among the townsfolk. To remedy the town’s accommodation space for passing adventurers and assist in the town’s own growth, the acting mayor set up a mutual-beneficial system. Adventurers can take quests from the locals and the latter can have their woes remedied and reward the adventurers with a stamp as a step to get an adventurer’s licence which will allow them to venture forth into the mine.
Sensing the flair of adventure that lies within those tasks and the possibility to find her coveted treasure, CJ is eager to assist New Navaeh’s residents in their needs. As she engages in those activities, CJ makes the acquaintance of a number of characters, some of whom join her party, while interacting more passively with others. And what started as a quest to find a treasure to bring back to her hometown winds up into one to combat the evil Galdean Empire.
Plotwise, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising offers something fresh, especially considering its lighthearted touch. Not only are the interactions between the main cast sprinkled with humour but also those with NPCs. This makes for an enjoyable and even more approachable take on the genre. But this doesn’t mean that the game doesn’t want you to take it any less seriously. There is more behind the motives of the main cast and you get to learn more about these as you progress. This fleshing out of the characters is an aspect that I was hoping to see more in the main game after previewing it and I’m glad to see that the developers delved deeper in the characters’ development.
What also makes this title an original one is its 2.5D aesthetics. Developers Natsume Atari and Rabbit & Bear Studios adopted a style which they say pays homage to traditional folklore storytelling with marionettes and art. Indeed, the character animations can often be likened to marionettes and it adds to the charm. The blend of 2D characters and the 3D background is also well executed with detailed environments across every scene. Moreover, with its HD renders, side-scrolling progression and emojis-in-speech-bubbles, it evokes some sense of nostalgia while also looking new; and the “neo-retro style” that I likened the game to in the preview still holds true here.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising’s combat system adopts a real-time action mechanic and delivers the most fun I’ve had in the game. With its fast-paced aspect, you’ll get to take on enemies head-on, dodge attacks or even deflect them. As you progress, two other characters will join CJ’s party: Garoo, the heavy-hitting kangaroo with a giant sword that he conveniently stores in his pouch and Isha, the magic wielding one in the team. You can hotswap between each of these characters during combat to suit your fighting style or needs. In some instances, you can also link your attacks with other party members to deliver powerful blows.
Indeed, some fights, in particular boss fights, will require you to effectively swap between characters to emerge victorious as each party member has specific skills of their own. For example, CJ is the only one who can dodge/quickstep while Garoo is the only one who can deflect projectiles. Sure, you can try to stick with only one character but this will prove more challenging and, honestly, less fun than what this game can offer.
However, the combat mechanic takes time to be fleshed out. For the first couple of hours, you are limited to some basic attacks and only after sinking some more that you unlock new techniques that really spice up combat.
In addition to making effective use of your party members, you’ll have the RPG gamut that will assist you in combat. You can use power ups for temporary stat boosts while in battle as well as opt for more permanent options by getting new/upgrading your gear. You’ll also get to equip Rune-Lenses to channel the power of elements into your attacks. This can also give you an edge against certain monster types (earth against wind, wind against fire, fire against water, water against earth) and offers a decent way to introduce challenges in battles.
Beyond combat, the gameplay also integrates other aspects such as light puzzle sequences, platforming (in side-scrolling fashion) for exploration and town building. The latter aspect is one of the major component of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising. Among the quests that CJ encounters in New Navaeh are those that send her to find resources required to build structures that will support important businesses like an armoury and an apothecary. And it doesn’t simply end there. After assisting in these constructions, the shop owners will occasionally come to CJ with additional quests that can expand their business. For the player, this means new items and upgrades being available for purchase and crafting.
While CJ and her crew aren’t actively involved in the construction aspect, helping in the town building not only helps the town but also her party to fare better in her quests. Most of these are optional but completing them have undeniable benefits for CJ’s adventure. For example, you can opt to help build a farm so you can subsequently purchase eggs and diary. You can then use the latter items to prepare stats-boosting meals at the tavern. Moreover, completing those quests will reward you with XP and barqua (money).
However, the fetch quest aspect of the town building, or most of the main missions for that matter, still persists in the main game. This was a major downside that I came across in the preview and it unfortunately perpetuates in the final game. Moreover, lots of these quests will involve backtracking. While the handy fast-travel system helps alleviate the backtracking and make things more bearable, it doesn’t help in the same-y feel that you’ll experience over time.
Quests themselves are colourful in nature, ranging from finding cats, locating a lost diary or fighting old bosses to get lenses to try out a stowpack. Upon completing them you'll hear more about the backstory of the quest, sometimes with a humorous touch. These are lively and colourful but don't do much at masking the backtracking involved or the fetch quest-intensive aspect.
In fact, not much effort has been paid to mask this nature of the quests and CJ’s over-eagerness to indulge in the townsfolk's demands, often with no questions asked, doesn’t help in that regard. Sure, side quests are optional but the prospect of unlocking new items through town building is tantalising, if not important. But Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising does not ultimately make these very enjoyable or memorable.
While the ample combat sessions that you'll get to engage in help to remedy (to some extent) the backtracking and fetch quests, the main roster is limited to 3 characters across the whole game. While it’s not a particularly long one that can take around 10-15 hours to complete, this prequel could easily have been brought down to a quicker completion time which could have, in turn, helped overlook the backtracking or fetch quests.
When it comes down to it, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising offers a quick fix to the full experience that Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes promises to be. Unfortunately, it feels like it is mostly that: a quick fix. It has some good things going for it such as the adorable aesthetics, fun combats, a lighthearted plot and some carryover items to Hundred Heroes; but it makes it more challenging for Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes to win our hearts. Rising shows that there is promise for a fully-fledged game; but if Hundred Heroes wants to live up to the cult classic Suikoden, of which it is a spiritual successor to, it should deliver on a better execution than its prequel did.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising Launch Trailer
- Adorable 2.5D aesthetics
- Lighthearted nature
- Fun, fast-paced combats
- Fetch-quest intensive
- Slow to unlock all battle techniques