Eiyuden Chronicles: Rising Review (Switch)
Release Date: May 10, 2022
File Size: 3.9GB
Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: NatsumeAtari, Natsume, Rabbit & Bear Co., Ltd
Click here to view on the Nintendo eShop.
Version Reviewed: 1.02
Eiyuden Chronicles has made a bit of a name for itself ever since its successful Kickstarter for the game Eiyuden Chronicles: Hundred Heroes. Several developers of the Suikoden games have joined forces to create this game and reached their initial goal within two hours of the Kickstarter opening. And in the end, they ended up raising over three million dollars. Eiyuden Chronicles: Rising is a prequel to Hundred Heroes that was announced last year, starring characters that will also appear in the main game. But how does it fare? Is it a worthy appetizer to appease fans prior to the release of Hundred Heroes, or does it just leave a bad taste behind?
Eiyuden Chronicles: Rising is a prequel starring CJ, Garoo, and Isha, three characters that will also be in Hundred Heroes. CJ comes from a long line of treasure hunters and has traveled to New Nevaeh to complete her family’s rite of passage. She has to bring back the biggest treasure she can find and isn’t allowed back until she does so. However, there’s a bit of red tape when it comes to scavenging, with explorer’s needing an Explorer’s License. Thus, mayor Isha gives CJ an offer: collect enough stamps by helping the villagers and she can get an Explorer’s License.
From there, the general flow of the story is built out as a string of tasks that you need to complete a current quest and unlock a new one. While a good portion of RPGs operate under this tactic, it feels a lot more apparent with Eiyuden Chronicles: Rising. And given the fact that the game guides you along through these tasks, that means that the story is linearly told. This isn’t a bad thing, especially for folks who like task-oriented RPGs, but if that’s not your thing, you’re probably not going to have a great time.
There is also quite a bit of backtracking. There are times where a quest will point you to a certain location, only to reach said location and be told that there’s nothing to explore and to turn back around. Since the scope of the game isn’t all that big, it’s not that much of a hassle, but having this happen multiple times does end up taking you out of the moment to wonder if that portion could have just been cut down altogether. And, of course, since all of the dungeons have blocked off paths that can’t be explored until later, there’s no way to completely explore a dungeon the first time around.
There are also side quests that can be done, but like the main quest, they feel very much like checking off tasks on a list. However, the fact that completing side quests can help to actually build and expand the shops in town, as well as build up your Link Attack limit does actually give the player a reason to pursue these quests, as simple as they are.
Eiyuden Chronicles: Rising is a 2D action RPG where you control up to three characters as you explore dungeons. Battles happen in real-time and as you enter an enemy’s range of attack, they will start attacking you. At certain parts of a dungeon, you may come across a boss that you need to battle in order to continue through. And as you’re exploring a dungeon and defeating monsters, you will constantly be collecting items that can be used to cook, upgrade your weapons, be sold, or handed in to complete a side quest.
When it comes to controlling the characters with Eiyuden Chronicles: Rising, it’s a bit strange compared to other action RPGs. There are two control modes: Simple and Normal Mode. In Simple Mode, you will only have two button actions: attack and jump. The game handles switching between characters automatically, so you only need to worry about attacking and navigating around. In Normal Mode however, each of the characters are assigned to one of the four face buttons and you’ll need to hit that particular button to switch and attack with them. For instance, CJ is set to the Y button, so if you’re using Garoo and want to switch to CJ, you would need to hit the Y button. But along with that, if you want to keep attacking as CJ, you’d need to keep hitting the Y button. Hitting either of the other two buttons that are assigned to other characters will switch the controllable character over to them.
As you progress, you will eventually unlock the ability to use Link Attacks. Link Attacks are basically chained attacks between two or more characters. As you’re attacking, if you switch to another character, you will enter a Link Attack. As you complete stamp cards (which are filled by completing side quests), your Link Attack combo limit will increase, allowing for more damage. Against later bosses that don’t stay in one place for too long, Link Attacks are the key to victory. Keep in mind, however, that in order to keep a Link Attack combo going, you need to hit the attack button within the timeframe to pass it off to the next character. The timing can feel a bit tight, making it easy to break your combo.
The actual combat for Eiyuden Chronicles: Rising actually feels very responsive, with little to no feeling of input lag. Critical hits also feel very satisfying. However, you need to remain vigilant of enemies at all times, especially in later dungeons. The amount of enemies that can be in one area increases and there will even be times where you face two mini-bosses at one time.
You will have the opportunity to use CJ, Garoo, and Isha throughout your time with Eiyuden Chronicles: Rising. Each character has their advantages and disadvantages, although overall, CJ feels like the default choice to fall back on at the end of the day. She moves considerably faster than the other two, her jump is a lot more predictable, and her damage output is average as a melee fighter, so unless she’s faced with bulky enemies, she can handle most battles with ease. Her only downside is her unique skill, which is moving a short distance quickly, allowing her to phase through enemies. While useful for dodging attacks, if her enemy is constantly on the move, it can result in CJ phasing to a spot that the enemy moves to, thus ending up with her taking damage.
Garoo is slower than CJ and Isha in both movement and attacking, but hits harder and can break through certain rock obstacles and shields. Garoo is also a melee fighter, but his range is much bigger than CJ’s. Garoo’s unique skill is also finicky to use, with it being a parry. It’s not just a blocking move, so if you end up trying to parry and you’re too early, you’ll end up taking damage. But if you do time it just right, you’ll end up blocking the attack and taking no damage.
Isha is the only ranged unit as a magic user, however her attacks are limited to three spells at a time before she needs to recharge for a few seconds. But in some of the more volatile areas, such as the volcano where you can get a status effect if you’re hit by an enemy’s attack, her range is a godsend. Her unique skill is also very useful, allowing Isha to teleport in and out of danger.
Exploring and Gathering
There are several dungeons that you can explore in Eiyuden Chronicles: Rising, each with its own treasures. And with every dungeon, there are new items to procure. Monsters usually drop items when they’re defeated, illustrated as a glowing yellow orb. There are also environmental items that can be scavenged, from glowing rocks, trees, or glowing spots on the ground. In order to scavenge from trees or rocks, you’ll need the appropriate tools which can be bought from the tool shop. You also have the option to upgrade those tools down the road, which can net you rarer drops.
You have both a resource bag and a stowpack which hold items that you can manage while exploring in a dungeon. Your resource bag is where you hold all of the items that you pick up. This bag can be upgraded to hold more items. If you reach the limit while exploring a dungeon, you won’t be able to pick up any more items until you drop some. After you leave a dungeon, all items in your resource bag go to your storehouse. Your stowpack is where you hold your healing and stat-boosting items. This bag increases as you progress through the game. If you get any additional healing or stat boosting items, they are automatically sent back to your storehouse. You can use your healing items at any point and they will heal all members of the team.
The dungeon crawling aspect is alright, with each dungeon containing branching paths to encounter different mini-bosses and uncovering treasure. None of these branching paths are required to progress through the game, unless the main quest directs you in that direction. In order to fully explore these branching paths, you’ll need to use your Rune Lense with a specific element equipped to break down the barrier.
Rune Lenses and Equipment
You’ll come across big, shining pillars of colored rocks that block you from exploring any deeper into dungeons. In order to get past them, you’ll need to have a Rune Lense and a Rune of a specific element to break it. While you’ll begin with only one Rune Lense, eventually you have one for each of the characters to use. These Rune Lense can be leveled up via upgrading them, which is required if you wish to use higher level Runes. Runes can be found in dungeons, typically in treasure chests, but also dropped by bosses.
Along with upgrading your Rune Lenses, you can also upgrade your equipment. Each character has their own weapon and armor piece that they wear that can’t be changed. Instead, you can upgrade them using the Smithy and Weapons shop. The Smithy will add stat increases to your current weapon while the Weapons shop allows you to purchase the next upgrade for your weapon. The equipment that you can change though is your accessories, which can give minor boosts to your stats or drop rates.
The aesthetics for Eiyuden Chronicles: Rising are okay, given the price point of the game. Character models and the background are 3D and all characters move on a two plane. With cutscenes, text boxes will appear with 2D sprite art displayed next to them. The animation for the characters does feel a bit stiff, almost like a puppet on strings. The actual UI, from the text boxes to the menu, feels a bit dated with the way that things are shaded though. The biggest downside with Eiyuden Chronicles: Rising is the loading, especially at the beginning when booting up the game.
The music is also middle-of-the-road, with nothing too crazy being done to really stand out amongst other RPGs. That being said, a lot of the tracks are very cheery, sticking with the general attitude of CJ, who wants nothing more than to help people and has a very bright personality. However, there are some darker tracks as well to match the mood when things start to take a turn in the story.
Overall, Eiyuden Chronicles: Rising is a decent introduction to the world while we wait for Hundred Heroes,so long as you temper expectations. This game is by no means a sprawling adventure and, at times, can even feel like you’re just completing one transaction before moving onto the next. But the combat, while finicky, is fun and there’s satisfaction to be had with completing stamp cards and watching the village grow. Eiyuden Chronicles: Rising definitely fits into that niche where it’s not for everyone, but does well enough in what it’s ultimately trying to do.