Platform(s): PC (version reviewed), Xbox Series, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch
Genre: 2D Platforming Action RPGing Spin-Off Game
Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes was a successful Kickstarter project launched by ex-Konami developers who know that the world needs a new Suikoden-like title. But since making these kinds of ambitious games can take a long while, it only makes a modicum of sense to make a “smaller” game to quell the thirst of 90s JRG fans.
Eiyuden Chronicle series developer Rabbit & Bear Studios’ solution? Get their pals from Natsume Atari to make a 2D action game in the veins of a PS1 platformer instead. I can’t be too sure if any such fan would play a spin-off game first over the actual successor, especially if the Kickstarter net them a lot of money. But one thing is for certain: I’m getting a lot of action platforming out of my US$15 here with Eiyuden Chronicle Rising, even if the overall game can get tedious if you’re going for that completionist route.
The Old Switcheroo
The premise of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is simple – you play a trio of adventurers who are helping the town of New Nevaeh become an attractive spot for tourists and adventurers. You do this by gathering resources and performing tons of fetch quests for the townsfolk, kill a ton of beasts and monsters impeding your path, and open up new areas by destroying colour-coded elemental walls. There’s also a dark secret within the town and the area it’s situated in, but that’s up for you to uncover within the 10 hours you’ll spend in this quaint adventure. The kicker here is the game’s character-switching mechanic: press any of the attack buttons -X, Y, B- to summon the character assigned to the button to perform their moves and gain access to their traversal skillsets.
Adventurer CJ can double jump, air dash, and cling onto ledges. Beastman Garoo can do a long hop and break big barriers down. Isha can teleport and shoot down certain crystal barriers. As you can clearly tell, CJ takes lead in the game because of her more diverse movement set. The switching is pretty important when fighting enemies; certain enemy barriers can only be broken down with the game’s Link Attack system, where you press a different attack button to summon in a new character for a Link Attack. Link Attacks also slows time down to a crawl so you can deal a ton of damage while also getting out of harm’s way with a dodge/evade move cancel halfway. As you grow the town by helping build it up with tasks and accumulating stamps for your reward, you gain access to more Link Attack opportunities. Pretty soon, you can chain up to 4 attacks in a row, and dealing a ton of damage onto enemies with little effort.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising’s character-switching mechanic takes some time to get used to; I have stumbled a couple of times because I keep switching attacks and accidentally summon the wrong character during a short climbing segment. But once you’re accustomed to it a few hours deep and have the full trio, the sky’s the limit when it comes to dealing your own brand of fantasy combo action justice. I dig the fact that all the characters play differently: CJ is fast and nimble and deals the most combos, while Garoo is slow but hits hard, has good range with his sword, and jumps pretty high. Isha has a Princess Peach float, can teleport away from trouble, and is the team’s only ranged attacker. Each of them have their uses in many different scenarios. Have too many enemies in the air? Just use Garoo’s overarching swipe to one-hit kill them all. Need to get out of a corner when you’re being flanked by enemies? Switch to CJ and just double-jump and air dash out of there.
You can also equip elemental runes onto them to deal all sorts of elemental damage and shoot out elemental spells, if you’re Isha. Later on, enemies will need to be taken down with the right elements to get rid of their shields and buffs; equipping the wrong element could mean unnecessary healing when you could be dealing more damage with proper planning.
All this would be for naught if the world of this spin-off comes off as bland. Fortunately, that isn’t the case; Natsume Atari’s blending of 2D sprites (to an extent) and 3D graphic work makes the There’s a bit of charm and relaxation in combat and exploration; almost like as if it’s tailored from the get-go to be a 2D RPG with jumping and platforming in the mix. The camaraderie between the three characters are fleshed out just fine; they’re not exactly the deepest characters since you’ve seen these archetypes in other JRPGs: backwater tomboy do-gooder, gruff old man, and the tsundere with tragic past. However, they are likeable and they have their own reasons for being what they are. Isha’s story arc is the most interesting, given that she is playing the role of mayor and support for CJ’s adventuring.
Granted, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is not the most challenging game of this type. Except for the last few bosses, most of the game can be a cakewalk if you know how to link attacks and switch partners quick, and the regular enemy variety isn’t that huge or complicated to deal with. Still, the plethora of elements here that are present -the presentation, the story, the progression, and the controls- are done with care that you don’t mind just doing repetitive sidequests and harvesting just to see how far you can take your in-game stamp collection. Plus, you can bump up the difficulty when you finish the game once -which should take you 10 hours or so on your first run- but unless you’re the kind who want to just bump up enemy health and damage as actual difficulty, you may just want to continue getting max stamps for CJ’s collection.
Chalk this 2D action RPG platformer under the “charming and inoffensive” category of entertainment. At the very least, this diversion from the actual Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes game will at least be worth 10 hours or so of your time. Natsume Atari: might I suggest more post-release DLC with new stages and bosses as the game’s base is pretty solid?
- Lovely aesthetics and new era PS1-esque vibes.
- Cool character-switching mechanic and action.
- Cute story & progression showcase.
- Mostly fun action and exploration bits.
- Sidequests and back-and-forth gets repetitive.
- Not that challenging overall.
Final Score: 70/100
Review copy provided by 505 Games.