Japanese RPG series Suikoden was a cult favourite on the original PlayStation and had an avid fan base, despite being a hard game to obtain in Western regions, and ultimately living in the shadow of heavyweights like Final Fantasy. In 2020, some of the key developers behind the series launched a Kickstarter campaign for a spiritual successor: Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes.
It was fully funded in a couple of hours, and smashed through all of its stretch goals to raise a total of ¥481,621,841 (about AU $5.3 million). Like I said, an avid fanbase.
The very last stretch goal was a completely separate companion game, which became Eiyuden Chronicle Rising. It’s set in the same universe as the upcoming Hundred Heroes, but it’s a more focused game (the developer suggests around 25-30 hours in total) that revolves around building up a town and gathering the resources to do so. The most significant point of difference is that Eiyuden Chronicle Rising is a 2D, real-time action RPG, whereas Hundred Heroes will have a traditional turn-based combat system and epic narrative.
[Editor’s Note: Welcome to what we’re calling a Review Snapshot. Time is short, there are too many games, and a lot of those games are very long. With a Review Snapshot, we want to share an assessment of a game that we haven’t played in its entirety – and thus can’t review as a whole work in good faith. But these assessments will be based on a significant chunk of time with the game, and aim to give you a good idea of whether you might be interested in sinking a similar amount of time into the title yourself. Let us know what you think about them by tweeting at us.]
- Eiyuden Chronicle Rising – The First Five Hours
- Initial Impressions
- Will I enjoy Eiyuden Chronicle Rising?
Eiyuden Chronicle Rising – The First Five Hours
Eiyuden Chronicle Rising introduces you to CJ, an androgynous teenage girl with a ton of energy and enthusiasm. She’s great in a fight, and looking to find some seriously big treasure. Her journey brings her to a mining town full of adventurers, which has unfortunately fallen into disrepair. Luckily, CJ is always willing to help people out.
The first five hours will introduce you to the game’s loop of accepting a variety of quests from townsfolk, heading out into one of two dungeon-like locations, and fighting your way through the creatures and monsters that inhabit them while collecting resources to bring back to fulfil those quests. Completing quests will subsequently result in new shops being built, new parts of town opening up, and shops being expanded, which will ultimately increase your traversal and combat abilities.
You’ll gain two companions in this process: Garoo the grizzled, hard-hitting Kangaroo, and the magic-wielder Isha. You’ll also learn how to swap between them during a fight, and perform powerful and flashy linked attacks while on the field.
Eiyuden Chronicles Rising does a lot of things right. It doesn’t get bogged down in egregious amounts of lore to set up the story, and the characters are well written and quickly endearing (the odd-couple dynamic between CJ and Garoo is great). Between this game and revisiting Chrono Cross recently, I’m starting to think this was a very 90s RPG writer trend.
As far as game design goes, there’s a lot of time-saving, quality of life features in this title that I very much appreciate, namely a fast travel system that lets you warp to basically any discrete section of the main town, or to already-visited sections of dungeons almost instantly – quests can be completed in a flash because of it, and it’s a very welcome feature.
The real-time combat is also very fast-paced and satisfying. CJ is a quick hitter who has the ability to perform air combos and dash through enemies, while Garoo has a huge sword (which he stores in a magical pouch), and the ability to parry, but can’t walk too well – bounding around is the best way to get about with him. Quickly swapping between them to carve through weaker enemies and tag-team bosses is a lot of fun, and Isha brings explosive ranged magic into the mix, too. But the fact that you’ll simply carve through enemies reveals the the main issue I had with Rising: it’s perhaps a bit too breezy.
The first five hours was an absolute cakewalk, which meant that beyond the inherent satisfaction of slicing through things and watching big numbers pop up, and the overall pleasantness of it all, there wasn’t a meaty dimension of challenge for me to hook onto.
The quest structure also begins to get monotonous after these first few hours. Grabbing a quest, heading out to grind for the right resources and returning gets quite tedious after a couple dozen times, even with the very welcome fast-travel feature cutting out a lot of the travel.
Modern Japanese RPGs are somewhat infamous for only getting into the swing of things after several hours – I’ll always remember the ‘Final Fantasy XIII gets really good after 15 hours!’ sentiment – but Eiyuden Chronicles Rising felt like it had such a quick onboarding that I was surprised when the spike in challenge or pace never came.
It’s very possible that it might come some hours later, but for me, I was already starting to lose momentum at this point.
Will I enjoy Eiyuden Chronicle Rising?
There are many people who absolutely enjoy a breezy RPG. With its loop of light combat, resource gathering, and town building, it’s very likely Eiyuden Chronicle Rising will scratch the itches of those that like a good ‘cosy game’.
Even though there’s no immediate challenge or big story hook, the characters are still endearing, and the art direction is lovely. So if you’re looking to relax with a lightweight RPG, consider giving it a look – it’s on Xbox Game Pass if you want to take a chance, and it’s also on Nintendo Switch if you want something to wind down on the couch with.
I’ll likely keep going back to it when I’m in the mood to take it easy – the developer has mentioned that some aspects of progress will carry over to the upcoming Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, which I’m still very much looking forward to. Long live the spirit of Suikoden!
Eiyuden Chronicle Rising
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Xbox Game Pass.
Developers: Rabbit & Bear Studios, Natsume-Atari
Publisher: 505 Games
Release Date: 10 May 2022
The PC version of Eiyuden Chronicle Rising was provided and played for the purposes of this review snapshot.