The brainchild of Suikoden creator Yoshitaka Murayama, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is expected to launch this Spring as a prequel to the Kickstarter project Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, which is itself slated to release in 2023. Ahead of Rising‘s release, I’ve had the opportunity to try a preview of the game which allowed me to play the introductory segments of the game which included the first two boss fights and helped me get a general feel of the game. After having played through the preview, I will share my impressions in this article.
In Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, we’re introduced to CJ, a 16-year old girl on a quest to become an adventurer. The story begins as CJ reaches New Navaeh, a town where adventurers stop by to explore dungeons and find treasures in the nearby mine. New Navaeh could be our protagonist’s big break but first she needs to gain her adventurer’s licence, a requirement imposed by the town’s new acting mayor. In order to collect enough stamps to get her licence, CJ finds herself taking care of the townsmen’s woes and helping the latter foster an environment that is welcoming to fellow adventurers by building new structures like an inn or armour shop which, in tandem, help the town flourish. What appears to be a simple story evolves into a bigger quest to defeat the evil Galdean Empire.
What’s probably Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising‘s most striking feature is its artstyle. The 2.5D aesthetics that developer Rabbit & Bear Studios adopted suit the JRPG title well, somewhat akin to what I call a "neo-retro style". Landscapes are colourful and rich with details endowed with a stereoscopic effect, while the simple 2D character animations are reminiscent of a bygone era. But unlike most JRPGs, movement, whether it’s in exploration or combat, is done in one dimension (right/left on the screen). It is peculiar but not a bad experience, and gives the title a unique gameplay aspect.
In addition to the simple movement, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising feels like a JRPG that’s easier to grasp the mechanics of. Sure, you’ll find the staple JRPG gamut here from usable stat-boosting items to swappable party members, but these aspects are introduced in a step-wise, digestible manner that doesn’t feel overwhelming.
Through a series of introductory quests, you’ll get to learn how to use your different skills, upgrade armour and tackle bosses. These quests are part of the main storyline and their execution represents a major gripe I’ve had with the preview. You see, all of these quests are mainly fetch quests and not much effort has been done to disguise them.
Another touted mechanic of Rising’s gameplay is the town-building aspect. From the preview, CJ & co. aren’t actively involved in building new structures in New Navaeh but are tasked to help in the process through - you’ve guessed it - fetch quests. These involve gathering materials from the nearby mine or Great Forest and once this has been done, you can fast travel to the fetch quest-giver and view a cutscene of the building’s construction. Subsequently, you can employ the services that the new structure offers such as rest to gain HP or power up your armour at the smitty’s.
Combat sequences help to slightly overlook the fetch quest-intensive aspect of the game given their engaging nature. You’ll get to tackle (or escape from) foes in real-time, use potions or stats booters and even hotswap between party members to switch between attack styles. Time your attacks well and you can even perform powerful combo attacks to deal significant damage. Combats were the most fun I’ve had in Rising and thankfully the game is not lacking in this regard, even in the preview version.
However, I hope that the full game will be more than a glorified collection of fetch quests and also develops more on the background of the cast. Indeed, the main cast is intriguing, and there appears to be more behind CJ’s motivations than meets the eye; and I hope that Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising will flesh out these aspects in the full version.
This title is said to introduce part of the upcoming Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes’ cast; but more than introducing them, I hope to see Rising flesh them out as my experience during the preview was that there’s more to be said about the handful of characters I’ve come across during my ~2 hours of playthrough. The story so far also revolves only around the mining town of New Navaeh and I haven't experienced how CJ's journey evolves into one that takes a stance against the evil Galdean Empire.
That said, I look forward to what the full game delivers and Rising could give a taste of the bigger adventure that awaits when Hundred Heroes launches next year. From a technical perspective, Rising seems ready, based on the preview, but a better impression of the game can only be made after the full version is released. So for the time being, I’d recommend waiting for reviews of the full game before diving in yourself.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is expected to launch sometime this Spring on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PS4, PS5 and PC (Steam, EGS).