Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, a spiritual successor to the legendary Suikoden series of Japanese role-playing games, blew past its funding goals on Kickstarter two years ago, raising a whopping 4.5 million USD and shattering all its stretch goals in the process. It’s safe to say that many have a strong appetite for the kind of game director Yoshitaka Murayama creates, which made it all the more bothersome when Hundred Heroes, like many crowdfunded projects before it, was delayed – this time until 2023.
Enter Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, a spinoff/prequel that promises to tide us over until the main course (although there are question marks over whether it will make it to Switch at all). However, if you’re looking for a JRPG, look elsewhere; Rising trades Hundred Heroes’ turn-based battles for a side-scrolling action adventure steeped in town-building mechanics with a little Metrodvania thrown in for good measure.
Eiyuden Chonicle: Rising stars a trio: CJ, a naive treasure-hunter on a coming-of-age quest, Garoo, a grizzled kangaroo-man mercenary (yes, really – he has a pouch in which he stores his massive sword), and Isha, a teenage girl with magical powers thrust into mayorship over the town of New Nevaeh. What begins as a treasure hunt quickly becomes something much more mysterious as these three uncover the secrets of the Runebarrows, a complex of ruins beneath New Nevaeh filled with untold riches and quite a lot of monsters.
To explore the Runebarrows, and a few other dangerous locales, you’ll control the trio on a completely two-dimensional plane. Switching between each character happens with the press of a single button. CJ attacks with fast axes. Garoo swings a slow, massive sword. And Isha fires off magical projectiles from a distance. Individually, each character feels underwhelming, but by switching characters mid-combo you can link their attacks together to rack up massive damage.
It’s a simple system that doesn’t show much depth until many hours in. You see, Rising is also a town-building game, meaning CJ takes on quests from New Nevaeh’s residents to build up the smithy, the armoury, the tavern, the apothecary, the farm, and more. Upgrading these buildings in turn improves abilities and introduces new items. CJ’s dash extends in distance and her basic attack gains extra hits. Garoo learns a charged jump, and Isha’s teleport skill lasts longer, etc.
We found it satisfying to build up the trio’s repertoire, yet two frustrating issues with this gameplay loop quickly reared their ugly heads. First, helping residents amounts to extremely simple and tedious fetch quests. For example, Hogan the alligator-man asked us to find the tavern owner as she hadn’t picked up her order from his shop yet. So we hopped on over to the tavern, spoke to the owner, and then hustled back to Hogan for our reward – and that was it. That was the entire quest, and few of them are more involved than this. Go into the forest to find three pieces of light lumber to upgrade this shop here, find some snow pelts to unlock more bonuses for the inn over there.
This never ends. We dreaded coming back from a main-story quest because each time a horde of egregiously boring side quests popped up, yet the promise of gear upgrades compelled us to accept them. This dispelled any satisfaction we might have had watching New Nevaeh grow from a town ruined by an earthquake into a bustling hub of adventurers – and this is without mentioning that we had no say in how New Nevaeh grew. Much like the side quests, there is no nuance or choice involved; New Nevaeh simply builds itself. Some meaningful decision-making – whether to upgrade the farm or the inn with scarce resources, for example – would have added some much needed depth.
The second issue stems from how long Rising takes to get going. Quite a lot of time passes before CJ and friends unlock enough techniques to make combat truly engaging. It took about four hours of play before CJ could target monsters above her with an upward attack, and about six hours before we could explore a dungeon without interruption for more than 15 minutes. Quite often, something blocked progress – say, an elemental barrier – meaning a trek back to town, a chat with a handful of the colourful cast, and then all the way back to the dungeon to smash through the barrier with the right element equipped. Not long after this would happen again, dragging the beginning hours of the game to a crawl. Abundant fast-travel points helped alleviate the frustrating backtracking only so much.
And this is where Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising rewards those with saintly levels of patience. After around seven or eight hours, the game loosened up. While the fetch quests never stopped, the combat evolved into a satisfying mix of chain attacks and dodging. Light platforming with minor Metroidvania-esque mechanics encouraged us to explore further for rare resources. And the story surprised us with a few clever twists and some endearing – if rather cheesy – characters. We challenge you not to grow fond of them by the time the credits roll about 14 hours in. We’re genuinely interested to see how the story progresses in Hundred Heroes and where our handful of heroes wind up.
It’s a blessing that, with so much trekking from New Naeveh to the Runebarrows and back again (and then again to catch a fish for a snarky kid), Rising shines aesthetically. Some colourful backdrops frame our pixel heroes, not unlike the style seen in Octopath Traveller and Triangle Strategy. Our Switch OLED became our preferred way to play as the vibrant screen really allowed the game’s colours to pop. And the soundtrack had enough catchy tunes – particularly in town – that set the mood well. We found ourselves humming them when we took a break from being asked to find a cat somewhere within New Nevaeh for the third time.
Do you enjoy waiting for public transit in the rain? Could you bear sitting next to a screaming toddler on a transatlantic flight? Do you think you’d derive pleasure from chopping down trees in the Great Forest over and over again until you had enough light lumber to fulfil three or four requests? If so, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising has a delightful little adventure hidden beneath a lot of tedium just for you. If not, we wouldn’t begrudge you for staying clear and hoping Hundred Heroes doesn’t follow too closely in its predecessor’s footsteps. This game certainly has charm, but it makes you work too hard for it.
Well, yes, the game never looked good in any promotional videos
Was afraid of that. It's important to note that the main game is made by a separate studio and the quality of the prequel shouldn't be indicative of the quality to the main game that's still being worked on
Ah, that is a shame. I had this on my wishlist. Thanks for the review
Oof, I was kinda hoping this one would turn out well
I mean the 2D pixel art characters look nice.... but if you're looking for game based on that alone, just get Octopath or wait for Live A Live: they've got a lot more under the surface than this one it seems.
I know it will be another lackluster/ mediocre release. Ohh well, xenoblade 3 can't wait.
"Could you bear sitting next to a screaming toddler on a transatlantic flight?"
Speaking from personal experience… no.
I love how everybody acts like boring ass fetch quests aren't an RPG standard at this point.
@LittleGhost It'll probably happen in Xeno 3 and this guy will write 'masterpiece quest design'.
5 seems extremely harsh give its upsides. Definitely doesn't seem any worse than a 7 - which its metascore current sits at a high 7.
@Moonsorrow999 right? Everybody gave the final fantasy 7 remake a pass and it was a game entirely made of padding, linear hallways and terrible fetch quests, but if another game does, it's horrible.
That sets up a weird kind of precedent. Something like it's OK when Triple A companies do it but indie companies need to always be innovative in pushing the envelope for their $15 companion game.
Seems like a decent spinoff, for once performance isn't the issue and a lot of the RPG sites give it around a 7/10 or 8/10. For the price of $15 though, this probable 15-20 hour spinoff isn't bad.
@LittleGhost Agreed. It seems like this reviewer has reviewed this as a £50 Triple A supposed Masterpiece. I checked a bunch of other sites and videos and they were all giving it 7+. Pointed out its flaws and accepted that is was decent rather a great game. Looks anything but average, but when I have to collect 20 pig hearts and 10 logs of wood in Xenoblade 3, getting the quest at level 10 and can’t complete until 53, I’ll be looking for this guy’s 5 out of 10. Probably wouldn’t be brave enough to post that! Btw I love Xenoblade.
I am still getting it. I already saw the shortcomings way ahead of this review. Platforming doesn't fit the story-style of this type of game at ALL, but I will be supporting the devs for having the guts to return to the glorious vibes of Suikoden.
Honestly, as snarky as the conclusion sounds, I was halfway through the review thinking this. The "boring" fetch quests have an audience. There are many people who enjoy the grind
The game doesn't sound half bad, and from the review I would have given it a 7. It's important that people are informed this game has old school grind that isn't for them, but maybe the game was made for a very specific group of people who enjoy exactly that
Edit: for the sake of comparison, a lot of people in this site enjoys old time Castlevania games. Every time a new game emulate the old time pixelart, clunky controls and arcade difficult it is showered with praise. I myself dislike these games, but I can't deny those are good games for their audience
@Moonsorrow999 First, Moonsorrow RULES.
Second, Xenoblade 3 won’t just be a masterpiece. If the review is on NL it will be a stunning, legendary masterpiece.
@Daniel36 Keep in mind that this is just a prequel and the actual game hundred heroes which is spiritual successor to Suikoden cones out.
I'll still play and beat it because it's on Gamepass.
It honestly does not read all that bad. I might give this a go if the price is right. I find most Metroidvania titles "lethargic" in the opening hours so this is nothing new for me!
Even though I am also disappointed that the game didn't review well here, I appreciate that NL at least reviewed it. Is the site perfect and I agree with all their reviews and opinions? Of course not. But I haven't found any other Nintendo specific sites as comprehensive. I know that another relatively well known Nintendo specific site recently shut down.
I think that most of the comments disagreeing with the review score are reasonable. There are plenty of games, even AAA titles, that I have no interest in. We are all entitled to our own opinions.
@Thaswizz Yeah I am aware. This really isn't my type of game and frankly, I've seen some stuff to dislike in the actual game, 100 heroes, as well, but I have to support this. I just have to.
@Daniel36 For hundred heroes having some of the devs from previous Suikoden games earns me an instant buy. I'd prefer Suikoden 6 with the 108 stars of destiny, but obviously that's a pipe dream.
Amazing how they always fleshed out so many stories, God I love that series! I'd love a collection Suikoden 1-5 maybe a second one with tactics, the Japan only card game, and the DS iteration
I may still give this one a go. I usually enjoy laid back 2D action RPGs like this.
The review made it sound better than a five. Gonna have to check it out for myself. The Cons don't sound that bad and the Joys seem like they might be better than the review lets on.
I legitimately had not watched or read anything about this prequel until now, so I had no idea it wasn't also a turn based RPG. That said, this review didn't really read that badly to me. It sounds pretty good aside from repetitive side quests and a slow start, but that isn't exactly a rarity. For $15 it still sounds like a cool little game.
Might I recommend the excellent Dust: An Elysian Tail as an alternative?
I hate when they remove turn based combat from series' rooted in it, & i kinda get happy when games they do this in fail, if I'm honest (but that makes me then feel bad, because i don't want delight on others' failure). Everyone thinks because FFVII Remake did it, they can do it, too (tho, i bought that on release day & refuse to play through it, once i saw it wasn't turn based at all. It's what made me learn my lesson about buying digital games from franchises I love... Until i did it again with Metroid dread & got burned again 🤣).
Hmm, when I read the Joys and cons it sounded more like you would give this game a 7/10 instead based on just that.
@Thaswizz Yeah me too.
And while I would prefer a Suikoden 6, we simply cannot trust Konami to ever do it justice anyways. They completely butchered it for me first with the DS one and then the PSP one, which had waaaay too little connection to the main games.
And that is exactly why I love the series so much, the continuity in the stories. I was blown away by Suikoden 2 the moment we ran into Flik and Victor, and while I had Suikoden 3 in my possession for many years, plus the mangas, I only recently had the time and energy to play it.
Without spoiling it, let me just say the continuity aspect of Suikoden 3 was amazing to me. I also really didn't agree with the many reviews and opinions on Suikoden 3 I had read online, I thought it was a GREAT game. Maybe not as awesome as Suikoden 1 and 2 in the grander scheme of things, but I don't think a rehash of the same formula would've made it better. I think the more intimate scope was actually really nice.
I am still looking forward to 100 Heroes, but I am not expecting a new Suikoden franchise. Same as with Octopath Traveler. I loved it, I appreciated its tribute to the greats of bygone days, but it didn't have the same impact on me as Final Fantasy 6 had. And how could it have? I wasn't 13 when I played Octopath Traveler for the first time.
@Daniel36 Yeah I know what you mean. For mean Suikoden 2 was pinnacle of rpgs for me for turn based jrpgs. It's my favorite to this day and I haven't even got all the endings. It's just a beautiful story and a blast to play. I watched my brother play through 3 and played a decent bit myself and is an amazing game as well , I loved the different characters route with them interconnecting. Also 4 wasn't as bad as lot of people say , but 5 was a return to form.
As for octapath I actually quite loved it, and project triangle is absolutely amazing. I haven't beaten it, but it's coming close it rival FFT for me.
@LittleGhost i'm about 30 hours in SMT 5 and didn't see fetch quests. 40 hours ou Valkyria Chronicles 4, same thing. There's a lot of recent rpgs that doesn't involve fetch quests.
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