If you’re familiar with the Suikoden series, chances are you’re excited about the upcoming Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes.
With Konami seemingly giving Suikoden the cold shoulder despite there still being a large amount of love for it, Yoshitaka Murayama and Junko Kuwano – key collaborators behind the classic RPG franchise – have taken it upon themselves to deliver a spiritual sequel. But with the Kickstarter for Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes proving to be a huge success, before it lands we have Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising to look forward to, an action RPG prequel.
We’ve been hands-on with Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, playing just over two hours of what is expected to be a 20-hour adventure. Taking control of spunky young protagonist CJ, we found ourselves venturing into a town stricken by earthquakes, its residents hoping to rebuild. And while the nature of our visit was a rather selfish one – to find treasure – we soon found ourselves drawn into helping in any way we could.
It’s clear that the town is set to be your base in Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising – a feature that Suikoden fans will be familiar with. With the action restricted to the 2D plane, you’ll travel back and forth, talking to townsfolk who wish to set up shop and offer their services. They’ll generally require resources to do so, and so it’s up to you, being brave and capable, to journey to past the outskirts of the town and acquire them.
Travel to the Great Forest, for example, and you’ll find an abundance of lumber. But along the way you’ll encounter enemies that make getting it a little precarious. Sometimes you’ll be tasked with finding more specific items, too, such as paint. And so you’ll find yourself visiting areas several times, but perhaps delving further than you have done before. Once you have what’s required, taking them back to town and handing them over to the quest giver will then result in new features becoming available.
By the time our two hours with the game were up, we had built an apothecary, a tavern, a blacksmith, and more, allowing us to craft and purchase potions, upgrade our weapons, and have a bite to eat. The more effort you put into building the town, then, the easier you’ll find your adventure, though many of the services they offer require further resources to be found. But with a combat system that opens up over time to become enjoyable and rewarding, that’s not an issue.
Initially you’ll only have control over CJ in battle, who’s able to hack away at enemies with her dual pickaxes and avoid damage by performing a swift dash. By upgrading her weapons and armour, we also gained the ability to chain more hits and double jump. Eventually though, we gained a companion named Garoo, a surly warrior who wields a gigantic sword. With the press of a button you’re able to switch to him instantly, with him performing an attack if you’re in the middle of a combo. If not, pressing the same button again will coerce him into action, swinging his sword so forcefully that it can even break giant boulders blocking your path.
While we didn’t get to control her in the preview, Isha – a skilled magic user – is the third character that will round out your team. Being able to switch between them at will during the heat of battle turns what initially seems like an overly basic combat system into something rather fun indeed, with you able to create rather elaborate combos with them all. Even better, by upgrading their weapons and armour you can unlock new abilities for them. Garoo, for instance, gains the ability to parry enemy attacks if you can get the timing right.
The gameplay of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, then, has certainly met our expectations. With numerous areas to explore, you’ll enjoy its blend of platforming and combat, with repeated visits to each area bearing fruit as you return with abilities that allow you to reach even further. And of course there are bosses waiting for you, challenging you to learn their attacks and formulate strategies to overcome them. We’ve battled everything from an evil tree to a stone giant already.
It helps that Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising looks so wonderful, too. 3D environments have been combined with detailed 2D sprites to create something that looks modern yet also nostalgic, very much like what Square Enix has achieved with its HD-2D. It may not be a Suikoden game, but you can imagine each of the primary characters you meet here being in one of them. They’re distinctive and larger than life, standing out from the NPCs that surround them. You want to know their stories.
Ultimately, we feel it’s going to be the story at the heart of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising that determines whether it’ll simply be an enjoyable excursion, or a cherished lead up to the main event, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. All the ingredients are here, with hints of powerful magical runes that choose their owners and an empire that poses a threat to all, but what we’ve experienced so far has been mostly light-hearted, with no real stakes. That being said, we can’t wait to continue our journey in Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, and that certainly counts for something. For Suikoden fans, and those who love politically-charged RPGs, this could be the start of something rather special.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising launches this spring on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC.