A world where dragons exist and people pilot mechs? Not the most common of combinations — despite both elements often appearing in RPGs frequently over the years — but for SNES and PS1-inspired JRPG Chained Echoes, this is completely the norm. Revealed back in 2019, the game blasted through its Kickstarter campaign and secured a Switch version as part of its stretch goals.
This turn-based RPG is due to release in 2022 — cheekily, the Steam page lists ***ber 2022. And from its incredibly detailed pixel art to its snappy combat, it's looking like another fantastic retro-inspired RPG that will feel right at home on the Switch. And that's exactly what the game's lone developer, Matthias Linda, thinks, too.
With a list of inspirations including Xenogears, Chrono Trigger and Cross, Xenoblade Chronicles, and Suikoden, it's clear that Chained Echoes is a love letter to the genre — with a particular nod to the classics. But the combination of mechs, dragons, and steampunk help to set it apart from the plethora of retro RPGs on the system.
We had a chance to speak to Matthias Linda about Chained Echoes, why the Switch is so good for the classically-inspired RPG, and how a recent Monolith Soft game almost caused Linda to delay the game because he was so engrossed...
Nintendo Life: Congratulations on nearing the release window for the game! Making any kind of video game largely on your own is a daunting task, but a 30-40 hour RPG is on another level! What is it about the genre that inspired you to make your own?
Matthias Linda: I grew up with JRPGs on the Nintendo and PlayStation systems. It’s as simple as that. I even created Final Fantasy VI-likes and Chrono Trigger-inspired games in RPG Maker as I fell in love with the genre. So it was natural to one day start working on my own RPG. And, here I am, after seven years of game dev. The game is mostly done, just a few polishing topics and getting it run on each and every system.
Did you always have the Switch, or a Nintendo console, in mind for Chained Echoes? What do you think it is about the Switch that makes it such a great home for classically-inspired JRPGs?
I love the Switch. And yeah, from the very beginning I wanted to have the game running on it, obviously. It’s a perfect match, isn’t it? I’m not even sure why it is the perfect match, it just feels like that. Somehow the indie scene managed to make the Switch into something really, really special.
When the Switch appeared on the market, due to the fact that you had a blend of a portable and stationary console, you already had something special. But in the end, games shape a console. And, for some reason, the retro-inspired JRPGs and RPGs and action-adventures feel super natural on the Switch. They're a perfect match.
...the indie scene managed to make the Switch into something really, really special.
There’s a real blend of classic SNES visuals and style with PlayStation sound and traversal options. Did you have any particular games in mind while working on Chained Echoes?
Quite a lot. Suikoden II, the Chrono games, the early Final Fantasy titles, Terranigma, Xenogears and so many, many more; basically, all of the games that were part of my childhood. But, in Chained Echoes, they influence the game more in how I remember them, not so much in the way they actually were. There is that psychological effect that you remember things differently and you will always glorify things you experienced as a child. And whenever I created something, I did it how I remembered it, not how it actually was.
We’re in love with the idea of a world where mechs and dragons both exist. Not many RPGs use mechs as transportation or combat – we’re thinking Xenogears and Xenoblade Chronicles X. Why did you want to bring mechs in particular?
My inner child will always love huge robots. Who, at my age, didn’t love Mechwarrior? But yeah, Xenogears, definitely. And yes, Xenoblade Chronicles… my god, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 recently delayed Chained Echoes by at least a week!
Jokes aside, I just thought it’d be cool to blend fantasy with mechs and steampunk elements. And it also allowed me to introduce a new variant of the combat system out of nowhere and to throw a surprise at the player when the player doesn’t expect it.
There is mention of “choice” on the official website. What in-game choices will there be and will they lead to different quests, scenarios, or endings?
Well, some choices are part of the story and will be made by the characters and the player will just “feel” them. But some choices during certain quests will influence what happens during the quests. But for the endings, no — I wanted to tell a specific story, to deliver something with a specific meaning. While I’m not sure if everyone will understand the message of Chained Echoes, I sure hope this message will make players think about the game once in a while. With multiple endings, this wouldn’t have been possible.
...whenever I created something, I did it how I remembered it, not how it actually was.
We’ve seen a lot of different species of characters in the trailers, such as lizard people, dogs, a bird man, etc. Was a diverse cast always something you were aiming for?
It wasn’t so much about the diversity of the cast but about creating a believable fantasy world where more than just humans exist. Although even the bird man and lizard people as you call them are considered to be human in the world of Chained Echoes. When it comes to that specific topic, the world of Chained Echoes is close to a utopia. These things just don’t matter that much.
The game uses a snappy turn-based combat system with a visible turn order. How did you want to set your combat system apart from other SNES-inspired RPGs of today?
I wanted to create a fast-paced turn-based combat system which still offers a deep tactical aspect. Sounds difficult, right? So I introduced the overdrive bar. Every action by the player and the enemies influences the bar. If you reach the overdrive, you do additional damage and you receive less, if you go too far, the opposite happens. So while the turns are quick and snappy, you still have to balance your actions to not ruin your battle within just two or three turns.
Can you tell us anything about the skill system in-game?
Every character has a set of skills they can learn on a level up. After learning a passive or active skill the character also needs to equip it. There are a lot of skills per character but only a few slots are available to equip them, so you have to carefully plan how your deck of skills will look before heading into battle. There are over 400 skills available! The levelling system works a bit differently than in other games. It is not handled via experience points but shards you will find on your way.
Minigames are another classic RPG element you’re bringing into Chained Echoes. What kind can we expect to see?
I can recommend the turtle race. There aren’t too many minigames in Chained Echoes, just a very few. I only added them when I thought they’d make sense within the context of the world. And when I add things, I want to make sure they either have an influence on the gameplay or that they’ll make you laugh.
I bet somewhere inside Chained Echoes there is a bit of Elden Ring or The Witcher III or even Mario.
Do you still make time to play RPGs? And are there any modern-day influences that you’ve taken ideas from?
Hell yes. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 nearly caused a delay as I sunk way too much time into it. But I also enjoyed Return to Monkey Island a lot. I know, that’s not an RPG, but I still wanted to mention it. Also, I’m a [Yasumi] Matsuno fanboy. I'm waiting for Final Fantasy XVI and I have high hopes for it as the team behind it seems to be fans of Matsuno as well. As for modern-day influences, well yeah. Probably. I bet somewhere inside Chained Echoes there is a bit of Elden Ring or The Witcher III or even Mario. And probably a lot of others!
This interview has been edited lightly for clarity.
We want to extend our thanks to Matthias Linda for taking the time to answer our questions. Chained Echoes is due to release on the Switch in 2022.
Looks like a fairly top shelf indie. Great pixel art. I'd much rather play something like this than most of the JRPGs Kemco publishes.
Although I'm not sure why that random shot of a hamster was thrown in there.
Also a bit confused about the explanation of the battle system:
"Every action by the player and the enemies influences the bar. If you reach the overdrive, you do additional damage and you receive less, if you go too far, the opposite happens. So while the turns are quick and snappy, you still have to balance your actions to not ruin your battle within just two or three turns."
I'm not entirely sure how this works. If you attack with powerful skills, the game punishes you?
From what I’ve read and seen: This looks like it’s made for me . Looking forward to it!
Wow, this one looks and sounds absolutely AWESOME. Well done to Matthias. I'm going to call an easy 9+ out of 10 when reviews start coming out.
First things I saw were Chrono Trigger and then a hint of Xenogears when I saw the armour. This has got my attention!
This looks great! Added to my list!
You got my attention at SNES-inspired. Then you throw in dragons, mechs, and steampunk. Now I'm really interested.
Looks like an awesome and nostalgic hodgepodge of some of my favorite titles growing up. I'm in.
Also, that Star Ocean-like menu sound soothes me like a baby.
I've been waiting for this. I am 🙏 for a physical!!
This game looks like my cup of tea! Anything with mechas in it grants instant appeal for me. But somehow I missed news of this and now I'm about 2 years too late to order a physical copy. Bummer.
I'll wishlist for now and maybe another chance for a physical copy will arise.
Nice piece here. I'm digging the art style in this one, definitely on my radar.
@Ralizah lol Kemco rpg are so cheap. They all look the same. Back then when I discover "Steam", I only play them. 😂
Will defo pick this up. Anything that triggers that 90s feeling.
That release date: PERFECT 🤌
Inspired by what was truly the best era for RPGs and adventure games, and made by a lone developer? Color me impressed. If it plays as good as it looks, I'll be all over it.
Finally an indie RPG that isn't a rogue like, I'll check this out
From my experience, this sounds similar to the Stamina system from Chrono Cross. For example, if you have a lower Stamina (say, 2) and try to do like a Level 7 Element, then the game punishes you by making you wait longer before you can use another Element. Maybe something to that effect.
This was my surprise hit of 2022. Spent the last week playing it and still am. Amazing game.
@tseliot it's next on my list. Looks great!
Just beat the game with an almost complete Board a few days ago. It's a solid RPG overall with a lengthy story and some good musical pieces, and though I understand the praise it's been getting, it's not perfect.
1) While the Skill Slots are meant to provide you with customization options, in reality by the end of the game it's become a tiresome, bloated mechanic. You can't even fit a quarter of the available Skills into the available slots for each character, so most will remain untouched for the entire game as you stick with your favorites. What's the purpose of "learning" new skills that you'll either never use or force you to "forget" others?
2) Ditto the characters. Some are frankly just less useful than others, so by the time you have more characters than active and secondary slots (8 total), you'll have them permanently riding the bench.
3) Combining crystals and upgrading weapons got to be such a chore that I stopped bothering after awhile (can I get a witness?). Having to scroll ALL THE WAY through dozens of materials to get to the specific one you want (and there's no way to reselect or back up if you make a mistake without having to restart the entire process) could take literally half an hour or more just to get everyone's weapons and armor upgraded. It killed the pace, and honestly it just wasn't fun.
I personally didn't care for the LGBTQ stuff either that involves not one but two of your party's characters in separate relationships...both of which involve the story's "church" with high-ranking church officials/enforcers (including a scene in a bedroom). I realize that other readers' viewpoints may vary on the subject (and this is NOT an attack on them or anyone; you can have differing convictions and beliefs and still be civil), but this one issue is enough that I wouldn't have bought the game had I known about it beforehand, and whether or not they're in the minority, I suspect that others will feel the same way.
Again, I enjoyed this game for its merits, but it isn't perfect. And I doubt that I'll ever revisit it.
…What? Look, I get that it’s your opinion and you want to keep it civil, but the lack of self awareness here is pretty insane. The LGBTQ stuff is so minuscule I completely forgot about it until I read your comment, and it’s a made up church with a made up religion anyway. The skills and characters issue you have both aren’t new to the genre, I bench less useful characters all the time in JRPGs and the skills are like equipping Materia in FF7, you can’t use them all at once. The idea is to equip the skills and characters that are useful for certain encounters, this game actually requires strategy unlike a good amount of JRPGs where you just grind as much as you want to power through any kind of battle that requires half a thought . That being said, on normal difficulty you don’t really need to utilize the crystal mechanic but it’s there for people who enjoy min-maxing. Even then, those are fair reasons to not think the game is perfect even if they’re subjective. Having bigoted beliefs isn’t. If you can’t stomach watching/playing something with two people of the same sex being together because of your picky choosy bogus morality, I‘ll assume you don’t consume media where people are murdered, doing drugs, or having sex out of wedlock right? Funny, I’m straight and I don’t worry about what consuming media with LGBTQ stuff will do to my own moral code (not that anything is wrong with it in the first place). I guess I’m just that confident with my sexuality. You on the other hand…
@Phostachio There's a lot of content that I personally choose to not read or watch, for a wide variety of reasons. Ultra violence, excessive and extreme profanity, drug use, and yes, sex out of wedlock are all things I try to avoid as much as possible, and as a result there are entire genres of film and television as well as videogames and books that I stay away from. I don't try to tell anyone else what to do or force my beliefs on them, but as a consumer and a citizen I believe I have a right to speak my viewpoint, even if I'm the only one who holds it.
I'll be honest; I was a bit afraid to post the last part of my comment here out of the fear that it might incur attacks like yours. It's easy to tear into someone with your virtue signaling when you're confident you have others backing you and accuse them of bigotry or "bogus morality" (it's also ironic in the extreme). And I've seen many of my own posts as well as other people's here and elsewhere disappear and our voices silenced not because we attacked anyone, used profanity or vulgarity, or violated any "policy", but because we offered a viewpoint that isn't part of "the program" being promoted and proselytized in the media 24/7/365.
You and so many others have been conditioned by decades of social engineering that you don't even see or care how "tolerance" has become a one-way street. You see someone disagreeing with you as equivalent to them attacking you on a personal level. Such reactions are borne of easily manipulated emotions, not rational thinking and objective consideration. In such societies, the minority inevitably tend to be silenced, censored, and demonized until outright persecution inevitably starts. Those are the hallmarks of how every oppressive regime from the 20th Century managed the takeover of their respective countries, and whether you see it or not (you almost certainly don't if you're not old enough to remember 911, because you haven't lived long enough to remember anything being different than it is now), that's exactly what has been happening across the USA, Europe, and the rest of the (formerly) free world.
A reminder from none other than a famous liberal and agnostic who understood freedom in ways that far too many citizens of Western Civilization no longer do:
"I may not agree with a word you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." — Voltaire
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This isn't about me judging other people (although it's always the go-to accusation nowadays); I'm not judging anyone; that's God's province alone. But His Word makes it crystal clear that He considers certain behaviors sin, and warns believers not to commit them or associate themselves with those who do. Not because Christians are better than anyone else, but because God wants His people to be separate from the world and its influences. Naming sin is NOT judging those who commit it; any person, myself included, who ever received Jesus as our Savior and Lord had to first come to the point where we realized we were sinners and needed God's grace. Salvation is free, but the Jesus Himself said that receiving it will make the world hate you as it hated Him, because you no longer fit in.
I gave my personal opinion regarding certain content in this game, and Iike it or not a lot of others feel similarly even if they're afraid of being "called out" for saying it. LGBTQ content should have a warning label just like any mature content currently does, because there are people who don't agree with it, even if we're in the minority. In a culture where people are routinely "cancelled" for "offending" the "wrong" people/groups, even you shouldn't think that's asking too much.
@AtlanteanMan: You are the problem here. Just stop. Take your hate somewhere else.
It was my mistake for not checking the rating being M when buying it. I'd prefer this content wasn't there. I let my son watch a lot of the games I play but not this one. It was still a good game but I think all of the adult content (foul language, murdering kids, etc.) was unnecessary and added nothing to the story. I think the game was so hyped up as a 16 bit continuation type RPG, that the M rating was overshadowed.
Again, not taking any sides here. The game is rated M so anyone who objects should have known what they were getting into. That being said I don't buy games like GTA or Call of Duty either. I prefer more family oriented content.
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This game is exquisite and I can't help but recommend it to anyway not sure. Chained echoes has taken me away for all other sibglpe player games I am playing ATM because it's that good and engrossing.
I'm nearly done with it, and regardless of the ending I see it being in my top list of RPGs. And harkens me back to Suikiden 2 and other great classics.
The fact it was done by one person is amazing and I'm truly grateful for his love into this project because it shows in every scene.
Can’t wait for a sequel, hopefully he’ll hire a couple more people so it doesn’t take another seven years!
@Phostachio You neglected to mention the cutscene where a skivvies-clad Kylan gets out of bed next to the Bishop after becoming part of his "male harem" (or maybe you didn't). What part of that do you not consider worthy of a heads up for potential buyers? If it had just been the Sienna dialogue I wouldn't even have said anything, but that was a bridge too far for me.
@AtlanteanMan I'm a Christian as well and I understand your reservations because some things made me uncomfortable, alas is life though. However, the story is well done and is interesting through out. None of the stuff seemed force just to make a splash rather those parts were more subtle with observer needing to pay attention then thrusting it in your face.
Also Ba"Thraz talks about no females existing yet having children which make seahorses are similar. Just thought that quote he says at hermit isle was funny 🤣
@Phostachio Well I'm fine with him taking his time as spiritual successor to Suikiden comes out this years plus new fire emblem and I haven't even got to Xenoblade 3 yet.
I hope it does well though because it's by far my favorite surprise gem of last year.
A few seconds of a guy in his underwear walking out of a bedroom, good heavens! If there had been a woman in the bed, you wouldn’t have had a problem with it. No sex act is shown, it’s just implied. It was so brief I forgot about it until I saw you comment on it.
@Thaswizz I apologize if I went in on Christians too much here, I honestly have no issue with them by default (again, wife is one). It’s only when guys like Atlantean makes a show of it that it becomes an issue.
@Phostachio No qualms from me, but I appreciate the sentiment. Video games and media in general are hard to navigate if your only looking for a certain type. Rapidly changing landscape as it is and we encounter things everyday (usually) that we may disagree on , but games a game. And I don't find anything out right offensive, but do I dislike a few overtones ? Perhaps, but that doesn't detract from the (imo) excellent game made.
That’s fair, I’m not really into games that have gratuitous sex/violence/etc., but all things considered the LGBTQ stuff was so light here I didn’t even give it a second thought honestly.
@Phostachio Inagre I just think a large percentage of people are tired of stuff being forced rather then just naturally good part of story telling. Movie , game, or otherwise.
I do not think this game does that in any waynthough and I hope Mathias is happy with all positive feedback . Because he seems to care more then some AAA companies when it comes to his end product
@philwhite I didn't see the M rating before purchase, either; like you, I was lured in by the promise of a nice-looking RPG that was being compared to a lot of older JRPGs I played and loved back in the day.
I don't hate anyone. Saying you disagree with something or believe it's morally wrong doesn't mean you hate those who do it or feel differently; in fact I have friends, relatives, and coworkers, who I've actively prayed for regularly who have very different beliefs and yes, some of them are gay. Yes, you can actually respect and genuinely care about those you don't see eye to eye with, even hold a civil dialogue with them...even when both of you get frustrated and hot under the collar...and for the most part our society used to be able to. The fact so many folks have been brainwashed to believe otherwise is why we can't have a civil discourse on sensitive topics anymore that doesn't devolve into name-calling and baseless accusations.
But part of discretion with regard to civil discourse is to know when to walk away, when minds and ears are closed to what you have to say. So I will indeed take my leave here; you can believe what you will about me.
This Game is so great. I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!
You don’t hate these folks, but you don’t ever want to be reminded that they actually exist. You don’t want to see them. You probably vote for legislation that strips away their rights (gay marriage, adoption, etc.). Y’know, you can sit here and preach all day long, but to them and anyone who doesn’t believe in your Christian god, it comes off as hate. You’re brandishing something they don’t believe in as a weapon against their existence and then throwing little meaningless BS prayers their way to hope they right their wrongs.
For you to call anyone brainwashed because they don’t subscribe to your religious indoctrination and have a word or two to say against it is peak irony. Again, this discussion has been pretty civil. Calling you out is not the same thing as censoring or silencing you.
@Phostachio I can agree with both of you and I think it's unfair for him to be bad because he dislikes things that are immoral to him with his beliefs. It may not be heavy handed in this game, but it's each of our right to have our own beliefs.
I have friends who are into all sorts of different things I disagree with and they don't agree with me on certain things, but we're still civil cause they know I love them regardless of my beliefs on my perception of sin.
If this game had a warning with LGBT stuff of still have ayed it because it's part of life and it is what it is. However, if I knew game had pro Satan in it I would not. Point being is we are all different , but we can still love one another while disagreeing on content that we want to consume. Fact is they are putting LGBT stuff in everything cause of an agenda rather then actually caring about story.
For instance in shadow had gay couple and story made a ton of sense which while I didn't like it I was like yeah I see that happening in reality, thus actually becoming one my favorite characters.
Also you said your wife is a Christian so I'm sure she disagrees with alot of stuff being shoveled now a days as well. Either way we should be just talking about the game and how good it is! (AWESOME)
Love ya all though and check out chained echoes redit, lots people asking for help
@AtlanteanMan Voltaire never said that.
@emptydesk I admit the quote is often misattributed to Voltaire (Evelyn Hall published it in "Friends of Voltaire"), but the principle is still sound regardless. "Cancel culture" and demonizing those of conflicting viewpoints and beliefs would be something he and others who championed free thought and expression would have firmly declared we as a society have a duty to put a stop to.
Tell me, who here has stopped you from expressing your thoughts? The moderators haven’t taken down all of yours or my comments except the ones that became a bit too heated, I’m not demanding that you delete your comments. I’ve engaged with you in civil discussion while also giving you my own thoughts. As far as anyone else on any social media platform, you guys really do need to realize what free speech means. It means that you aren’t going to go to jail for saying what you want. It does not mean you are free from consequence, or that you’re free to say what you what on social media platforms and the business running said platform has to host your bigotry. On that note, you guys can’t even stay consistent with the whole free speech thing. Repubs were crying about how Twitter was ran before, but now Musky is their poster child. Spamming the N word? Have at it, free speech! Make a Elon Musk parody account, be a journalist reporting negatively on Musk’s business dealings? Heaven forbid! Banned! You guys are walking contradictions.
As much as a certain political party loves shilling for companies and protecting them, you guys get really mad when said companies acknowledge that hate speech is bad for business and kick you off their platform, which you agreed to them being able to do when you accepted their terms of service. Cancel culture is a made up bogeyman you guys created because you’d rather play victim than own up to the nastiness you put out into the world. You want to be the bad guy, take accountability for it.
@AtlanteanMan Since you bothered to reach into apocrypha in order to appeal to Voltaire's ethical authority, maybe you could take a page from his casual acceptance of gay people as well.
Or at the very least turn your supposed victimhood into something creative, like he did.
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