Back in the summer of 2020, I helped Kickstart a game by the makers of Suikoden, my favourite RPG series. The campaign was so successful that they decided to release a companion game before the main one releases later this year and here's what I think of it.
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What is Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising?
First of all, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is described as a prequel to the main game Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes so it's not actually the big game that received almost 500 million yen in funding. Although Hundred Heroes will be a modern take on the traditional JRPG, Rising takes the gameplay a different direction and delivers an enjoyable Metroidvania mixed with RPG elements and a town building sim. There are 5 main dungeons to explore that are unlocked as you progress through the story including The Great Forest, The Quarry, The Snowpeak, The Lava Ruins, and The Runebarrows. You traverse each dungeon and walk around the main village of New Nevaeh as you would in a 2D side-scroller and you can pop up a map at any point to get your bearings. v1d30chumz 3-239-112-140
As Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is a companion game, I expected it to be short but the amount of content is quite satisfying even if there are only a handful of dungeons. You will find yourself exploring the same dungeons over and over while looking for ways to reach ledges that you couldn't previously by jumping large gaps or smashing your way through an elemental barrier after acquiring the correct rune.
Fully exploring a dungeon will reward you with an in-game achievement and it feels quite gratifying when you do given that it can take some time to unlock all the needed abilities. You will eventually gain access to 3 unique party members who each have their own abilities and you'll be faced with areas in the dungeons that require you to chain them such as using CJ's jump then air-dash and quickly swap to Isha to hover a little further across a gap. Combining party member's abilities to reach a new area is very satisfying. 😊
Along with exploring all of the dungeons, you'll also spend a fair amount of time in New Nevaeh where you will complete quest after quest to gain a new stamp on your adventurer stamp card. Reaching certain stamp thresholds unlocks the next level for the town which unlocks more quests. As you complete main and side-quests you'll also unlock new areas of the town including 3 distinct shopping districts with tons of shops that all need upgrading. I spent quite a lot of time completing side-quests and was happy to unlock new equipment and upgrades but it began to feel a little repetitive eventually, especially given the limited number of dungeons to explore so you can find the right materials and a lot of the quests involve simply talking to a few people in the correct order.
Excited youngster CJ, bandit kangaroo Garoo, and temporary village mayor Isha are the main characters that you'll play as in Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising and they're quite a delight to watch as the story unfolds. CJ gets along with Garoo quite quickly and you can see her soften his cold exterior as they explore the dungeons and get to know each other. Isha is acting mayor and has taken over the job from her dad after he went missing even though she's only 16. CJ is actually the same age as Isha and is on a trip to find a treasure greater than her ancestor's to complete her family's rite of passage and she will stop at nothing in order to do so. You'll also meet many other villagers with their own characteristics and back-stories along your short journey.
Fighting in Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is handled fluidly by pressing the correct buttons at the right moment as you run through stages. Some enemies require precise dodging to avoid their attacks, especially when they have a long range via vertical lightning strikes or fire breath. Equipping a high level rune of the correct element can go a long way as there is an elemental aspect to a lot of the dungeons.
However, I never really found there to be a ton of challenge in Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising and I was generally able to get by hacking and slashing with CJ then swapping in Garoo to break the odd boulder and Isha to take out the shield orbs surrounding flying enemies. Having said that, running through a screen from one end to the other perfectly dodging all enemies and taking them out is quite satisfying. I only wish the drop item animation was a little faster as I would often miss drops unless I paused every now and then to pick them up. 😅
A couple of unique elements that I enjoyed about returning to complete the same dungeon (besides unlocking new areas with new abilities) include arenas and increased difficulty for bosses. In random areas of dungeons, you will suddenly face an onslaught of enemies that come at you quickly thus preventing you from going to the next area until you take them all out. This does a good job at switching up the gameplay a little but I wish that the difficulty of the enemies increased over time because being surrounded by a ton of level 1 monsters when you're at level 33 isn't the slightest bit difficult. When returning to fight the same boss, I was delighted to see that the bosses add an extra level of difficulty the second time around which makes them even more rewarding to take down.
The graphics in Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising are quite unique with lovely detailed backdrops but the character sprites lack that same level of detail. I would compare the aesthetics to a PS1 game but with much more detailed backgrounds and slightly better-looking characters. Plus, some dungeons are rather striking such as when you're exploring the Lava Ruins with flowing lava and tinder burning around you. Meanwhile, there's no voice acting but the soundtrack complements the scenery well. I liked how I was treated to a new village soundtrack when I levelled it up as well; that was a nice touch. The only thing that bugged me about the sound were the effects when I completed a quest as it's loud and comes across as a little obnoxious when you hear it over and over. 🥴
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is an enjoyable 2D Metroidvania RPG with a fun town upgrade system. Combining the abilities of CJ, Garoo, and Isha to explore the corners of various dungeons is a treat and I'm now even more excited for the release of Hundred Heroes.
- + Enjoyable fast-paced Metroidvania gameplay with action-packed combat
- + Endearing main characters
- + Lots of town upgrade content
- - Some sound effects and character sprites leave something to be desired
- - Quests can become repetitive
- - Not enough difficulty in the dungeons