Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
After a VERY successful start to their Kickstarter campaign within the first 24 hours alone, Rabbit & Bear Studios’ Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes had me basically squeeing. I may not have been getting my Suikoden VI, I was getting the next best thing. While still waiting for that title however, Rabbit & Bear Studios are also giving us the “other” next best thing with a metroidvania-lite prequel to their upcoming JRPG.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising starts off with our protagonist CJ on her coming of age story which sees her traveling to the town of New Navaeh. She’s searching for the largest lens she can find in order to surpass her father’s own find on his own coming of age journey years ago. Events will keep her here for a little while as she both hunts for this lens and helps absolutely everyone in need for stamps!
Essentially becoming a bit of a recurring gag, stamps are the form of currency that adventurers, scavengers and others are given for helping out the local townsfolk with anything that could be needed. Finding cats, hunting monsters, collecting ore, wood or other building materials, if they want it, you can get a stamp for it. The reason that CJ “needs” stamps? At first it’s to pay for her adventuring license in order to head down into the burrows where she hopes to find a lens. After that though, it becomes almost an obsession as the acting mayor says that CJ can get something amazing if she fills out this stamp card.
This is what will really help break players into Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising as a lot of time will be spent in and around this town as you talk to the local people and help them better their town. This makes me think a lot of Suikoden III’s fourth, and secondary, storyline to rebuild the castle town. All of these side quests in one way or another will be helping to not only build up shops and give the out of towners a place to stay, but it’ll also improve them over time. This allows you to buy better items and upgrade your adventuring gear. In addition, every time that you fill up a stamp card the town itself will get an upgrade allowing you to get even more out of it including a visual facelift and new background music.
Playing devil’s advocate for a moment, the way that this adventure is formed could turn some people away as it will require a lot of backtracking especially at certain parts of the story where you won’t be able to proceed until you can get a few quests completed. To me this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as it brings the focus on helping the town and it’s people grow. All CJ really wants to do is head out and collect that giant lens.
Where I did think things could be a bit of a slog was when certain quests required you to specifically go back up “again” in order to find one item that couldn’t be acquired without this quest having been taken, or in some cases, tracked. For the most part, you’ll be able to breeze through the material collections and hand them in just as fast. The one-time specifics, especially when five are given at the same time? You just want to move on for a moment especially if you had just done a few others.
Mentioned a few times above, and one of the main driving points of the story, not only does CJ need to find a giant lens that surpasses her father’s own find, but without it? She’s not allowed to go home as that’s part of their customs. The younger generation must one-up the previous generation’s find. So to help CJ find this lens, you’ll be guiding her, and eventually two others, through the town’s outskirts. Built in a lighter Metroidvania style, these outskirts will comprise of a few areas that you will be able unlock shortcuts as you collect new gear and throw some switches to open previously locked passageways.
The gameplay itself is never really complicated with standard enough attack patterns, the ability to jump, dodge and eventually double jump and air dodge to reach new locations. Where things get a bit fun is exploration and combat. While there are two control modes, the default is set up similarly to Valkyrie Profile or Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky where each character is set to a specific button and combinations can be made.
The only difference here is that everything is in real time as you’re jumping, dodging, blocking or teleporting to safety while in hazardous situations. Adding a bit to the depth, is that not only can each character simply be used as is to perform their own combination attacks that develop over time, but they can also be linked together for some pretty awesome damage which is almost necessary during boss fights.
On a wholly different note, the influence of the Suikoden Series is present in small ways that longtime fans will appreciate. Elemental Runes are present in the form of Lenses allowing characters to use world elements such as fire, ice, electricity and earth. Also present from the very beginning is a character named Hogan that brought me right back to Suikoden III Lizard Tribe which had some of my favorite secondary characters. How much these elements will blend into Hundred Heroes though will be something to see when the time comes.
Otherwise, on an overall, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising keeps things fairly simple for the shorter adventure and while it may not be for everyone, I enjoyed my first glimpse of this new world. With more side quest stories than a main line story, the story of this town was an enjoyable one and I look forward to the main event of Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes once it releases.Score: 7.75 / 10