Initially, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising was not in the plans of Yoshitaka Murayama, the legendary creator of the Suikoden series from 1995 to 2002. After leaving Konami, the author first founded Blue Moon Studio and then, together with some colleagues of Suikoden II, also Rabbit & Bear Studios. Murayama thus decided to create a spiritual following of the JRPG that had made him famous through a Kickstarter campaign: of the 400,000 euros initially requested for the development of Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, almost 4 million euros were donated. Among the goals, considered perhaps impossible to achieve at first, there was also the creation of a spin-off called Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising. The action-RPG in question is not developed directly by Murayama and Rabbit & Bear Studios, but by the team Natsume Atari, under the supervision of the well-known author.
Eiyuden Chronicle Rising therefore has a daunting task: Satisfy the hunger of those waiting for a new JRPG in the wake of Suikoden, and also provide an appetizer to all the donors and gamers who are eagerly awaiting Hundred Heroes. If you have already peeked at the vote, we tell you right now that it is – continuing with our culinary metaphors – a rather limited dish, but not for this indigestible. To find out more, we also refer you to ours interview with the authors of Eiyuden Chronicle Rising.
An enjoyable but not very stimulating plot
During the first few seconds of the game we get to know CJ, a girl who comes from generations of raiders and who has come to New Nevaeh to complete her family’s rite of passage. In the course of a long sequence of events, the girl discovers that to access the quarry – the place where the treasures she is looking for are found – she needs the mayor’s permission, as well as a card to stamp, after completing missions that they are entrusted by the inhabitants of the small town.
Continuing with the story, our followers will join Garooan anthropomorphic kangaroo with a devastating sword, e Isha, a sorceress as powerful as she is experienced. These two characters will remain by our side during the course of the adventure, and their friendship with the protagonist will gradually strengthen, moving hand in hand with the unfolding of the story. Although the characterization of the trio is somewhat stereotyped, since each of the three heroes embodies a specific character archetype, the scenes of interplay and dialogue between one mission and another seemed to us quite enjoyable. To make up for a rather limited narrative depth, in short, there is a sober script with no big ambitions.
The structure of the missions
On the other hand, the structure of the missions did not completely convince us, which gives rise to a long and at times tiring backtracking. Our adventure will be limited to the New Nevaeh area: this is the main hub of the game, which we will have to completely rebuild. As we proceed with the renovation, the city will show more and more places of interest, with facilities that they will provide us with gear, runes, bonuses, tools, and advancement support.
What at first might seem like a too simplistic development system will turn out to be less trivial than expected, as it will evolve together with the county, offering from time to time new skills and strategies to use. The problem lies mainly in the obvious general repetitiveness of each mission: to build the necessary structures, which will be unlocked by completing the citizens’ requests, we will have to explore the dungeons that the title offers countless times. The progression of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising relies to a greater extent on fetch quests, and therefore the progression forces us to review the same scenarios dozens of times. However, there is a small, clever and functional trick to reduce the redundancy of backtracking. Fortunately, we will in fact have the right to complete the secondary missions even during the carrying out of the primary assignments, since often the places where both types of quests will take place will be the same.
The combat system
Unlike its older brother Hundred Heroes, conceived according to the canons of the JRPG, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is a sliding action RPG, brushed here and there even by some stage of the platform mold. The control scheme provides that the three characters have an action command assigned to each key on the pad.
The mechanism was designed to give shape to a simplistic but effective combo system: if the first phases legitimately seem a bit limiting, with the continuation of the experience we will obtain new talents able to embellish the gameplay. For example, in the opening sequences, CJ is not even able to perform the double jump, a feature that we will be able to obtain later thanks to the purchase of an armor. By building the aforementioned city structures, we will benefit from unpublished playful elements that will enrich the pleasantness of the advancement. In the armory we will be given the ability to enhance offensive equipment and thus learn new moves, while armor, in addition to activating previously precluded abilities, will increase both the defense and the number of chainable combos. This is just the beginning, why each shop in New Nevaeh will donate tools to be used both in combat and throughout the setting. In short, the improvement of the city is a key element of the gameplay, and it will be particularly satisfying to expand the boundaries of this inhabited center, which will also be enriched with new inhabitants once the secondary missions are finished.
If the game mechanics seemed to us well built, the same cannot be said of the structure of the game world, characterized by design choices that are not always in focus. Some areas inside the dungeons will be unreachable until we get special abilities related to the runes or the unlocking of the characters in the party.
However, these areas will not be marked on the map and this will force us to navigate blindly during a main quest until we find the previously inaccessible place, consequently limiting the pleasure of exploration.
A bridge to the future
All these stumbles certainly show the limits of a work designed to be a prelude to a much more ambitious title. These are noticeable shortcomings, yet partly balanced by the aforementioned combat system and above all by a thick artistic direction.
Each scenario with attention to the smallest detail, with vivid colors that immediately immerse the player in a world with fantasy nuances; a little less convincing are the sprites of the characters in pixel art, which appear a bit woody and with very few animations. The strong point of the action RPG is to be found in the construction of the city, which will grow under our eyes, giving us the feeling of always being in constant evolution. Rising then tells the stories of the characters we will meet again in the main work of Rabbit & Bear Studios and therefore serves as prologue and prelude to the main course: Hundred Heroes.
Precisely for this reason, in the prequel you can find some really good goodies that will surely appeal to fans. In fact, in addition to renaming the weapons of our protagonists, we can even rename some recipes of the inn: the same names given to the dishes and tools will be kept in Hundred Heroes.
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Eiyuden Chronicle Rising Review: Waiting for Suikoden’s Heir
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