HomeReviews4/5 ReviewChained Echoes Review

Chained Echoes Review


A retro styled JRPG from a developer by the name of Matthias Linda, and published by Deck13, Chained Echoes promises to bring a flavour of the 1990’s 16-Bit era to our shiny modern-day consoles. Being a lifelong aficionado of these types of games (I bought a Super Nintendo purely to play A Link to The Past), it’s obviously something of appeal. So join me as we dive in and see what is what…

chained echoes review 1

The story of a proper JRPG has to grip you from the offset , not let go until the credits roll, and then leave you feeling drained when it is all over. Think of the classics of the genre – Final Fantasy VIII (no, not VII, that whole “piece Cloud’s mind back together section killed the flow), Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, they all have a story, front and centre. And Chained Echoes is a similar beast, with a narrative involving a war that has lasted 150 years, magic, swords, flying suits of armour, double crosses and monsters, all neatly wrapped up in a story that comes together into a pleasing climax. Box number one has a tick in it.  

Presentation is on point as well, with lovely looking 16-Bit style sprites wandering around some static backdrops; something which should be expected of these games. The characters are a motley crew, as I believe is stipulated on page one of the JRPG manual, and range from a princess of one of the kingdoms via some mercenaries, a playwright and a thief, amongst others. The backdrops are large and varied, going from sewers to tops of towers, and the enemies are a creatively designed bunch as well. 

You can then jump to the soundtrack and this is pretty much as you’d expect, with stirring music, swooshing spells and swinging, clanging swords, and absolutely no dialogue. No, all exposition and conversation in Chained Echoes is done via the medium of text windows, which is absolutely period correct. So far, so good then for Chained Echoes – everything is almost exactly as it was back in 1992. 

chained echoes review 2

But how about the rest of the game then, when we aren’t looking at the graphics or reading the story? Well, as with any proper JRPG, there is a healthy mix of combat and exploration to be found here, all as you make your way to the next boss. And there’s a sprinkling of levelling up skill trees as well, making the party stronger, as well as equipment to buy and upgrade. All bases covered, I’d say!

Exploration is the easiest of these game facets to explain, I’d say, and the areas that we find ourselves in are large and well designed. These areas, be they cities or the woolly wilds, yield surprises to patient explorers, and while the chests for instance can usually be seen on the screen, sometimes finding the way to get to them is a little more involved. There are lots of shortcuts and hidden paths to find, and while wandering around is never completely safe, as you can see the baddies before you fight them usually, with a bit of planning you can get the good stuff first. 

Combat in Chained Echoes is classic turn-based stuff, with a selection of moves available to each character. If you’ve played one of these games before you will be familiar with how it works – each turn a character can attack with a basic physical attack, use a skill of some description, usually a magical attack, use an item or defend until the next turn. However, there is a little wrinkle in this one and that comes in the form of the Overdrive system. As you attack, a bar in the top left of the screen starts to fill, and various actions can increase or decrease the bar by a set amount. Attacking raises the bar, while using support skills or defending will decrease it. ”Why would you want to decrease it?”, I can almost hear you ask, and that is a good question. You see, the Overdrive has a good bit, where the bar is green, and in this area your attacks are enhanced and your defence is raised. However, if the bar goes too high, the team enters the Overheat part of the bar, and then the opposite is true, with you doing less damage and taking more incoming damage. Trying to balance this bar, while still keeping up the DPS to take down some of the bigger bosses is surprisingly technical and engrossing. This one addition adds a very interesting mechanic to a standard genre, in all honesty. 

chained echoes review 3

Obviously, there are the other standard parts of a JRPG to master as well – levelling your characters and selecting the skills that they learn, and then choosing the correct skills from those available for the upcoming fights is very important. Add to this the other staples of a good JRPG, not only finding new weapons in the world or in shops, but then adding levels to said weapons, with crystals being added to make the weapons stronger, and all the bases of what is needed in a game of this genre are well and truly covered in Chained Echoes. 

In fact, it’s all pretty good aside from a couple of niggles, and they mainly have to do with the exploring part of the game. See, it is sometimes hard to line yourself up with narrow passages, with your team seeming to get hung up and stuck, almost. The only other minor moan I have is that it can be tricky to know where to go for a particular quest, as there is no on-screen marker to show you where you are supposed to be, and the map is only helpful in broad strokes, as fine detail seems to be beyond it. 

On the whole, Chained Echoes is a very accomplished JRPG that is well worth playing, mostly thanks to a great story and some classic retro feels. 

Chained Echoes is on the Xbox Store

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Follow Us On Socials


Our current writing team


Join the chat

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x