Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is a prequel to the upcoming Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, a successful crowdfunded RPG from Kickstarter. Hundred Heroes is set for launch in 2023 and for now we have the younger (older?) sibling to tantalise your tastebuds. Is this prequel tale worthy of your time?
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is a side-scrolling action RPG which has many colourful characters and locations to visit. The gameplay also throws some town building elements into the mix, creating a unique twist on the RPG genre.
The graphics in Rising are very akin to the recent Square Enix HD-2D projects such as Octopath Traveller. A blend of two dimensional characters in 3D backgrounds is aesthetically pleasing and the colours really pop from the various cast members. Arguably while Rising is head and shoulders above the Square Enix HD-2D titles in the graphics department, sadly looks alone are not enough to make a must play title..
You play as CJ, an adventurer. CJ is looking for work to give her adventuring career a ”kick start” (pun fully intended) and it’s here where you come across a village called New Neveah in the opening minutes; a village that is in dire need of help. An earthquake has created disaster for its inhabitants’ way of life.
The soundtrack featured is quite unobtrusive and not in the best way. Whilst serviceable, none of the tracks here really stand out as a catchy memorable jingle to hum when you aren’t playing. I will stress for the first time, being “fine” won’t cut it these days in the RPG landscape and this – as you will see – is a recurring theme for Rising.
While we are on the subject of the audio. There is no spoken dialogue in Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising. None. You might point to the game being a nod to classic RPGs which also have no voice acting. The many, many moments you will spend speaking to NPCs are all lengthy and would have benefited from the trick of audible grunts and sighs other RPG games employ.
Combat is functional and really feels like how you would imagine a 2D Kingdom Hearts might play (yes there were 2D Kingdom Hearts titles). Instead of selecting attacks from a menu, you use the face buttons to pull off moves in real time. Normal enemies roam the levels and will attack on sight. Occasionally things are spiced up with an enemy carrying a shield or with an AOE attack that must be dodged.
Bosses are frequent users of AOE attacks. When encountering bosses the battle screen opens in classic RPG style – enemy to the right (or left) and player characters on the opposite side. Moves are limited with only one attack available per character. Enemy types tend to be reskinned with a different colour from area to area, which can be a tad dull.
Later in the game – once you have Garoo (CJ’s Kangaroo partner) and Isha – the face buttons each are a different character’s attack. This is a neat idea in concept but again it is still only one attack each. You can however rack up higher scoring combo attacks with the additional party members by linking attacks between characters. Enemies are very hard to dodge at times, mostly due to dodgy animations but never truly present a challenge.
Outside of battling, exploration is done on the 2D playing field using the town as a home hub to return to after each quest. You may have to visit locales such as a nearby mine or be tasked with going into the forest to gather set amounts of wood to help the villagers.
Once assistance has been provided you will open up one of many new shops in town which range from the standard RPG inn to apothecary and item shops. These new stores can all be used to purchase items, potions or even to upgrade your armour and weapons.
Auto saves are frequent which is a bonus in a genre notorious for having manual save systems; something which can lead to losing many hours of progress. You can also save manually at signposts in areas, or at your base if you travel to the residential area.
Travelling to an already explored area is nicely done by choosing the place name in the menu, instantly warping you to that location. It is handy for later on, once new abilities become unlocked and open new areas in places CJ has visited already. This is also much appreciated when handing in one of the many, many quests you will receive.
Each quest will normally provide some sort of reward upon completion, be it a new ability, attack or even improvements for New Neveah itself. With the instant prize paid out for finishing a quest you always feel the old “virtual back pat” on completion. Payouts from quests are not the issue here however. It’s the quests themselves.
From the start of the game, once you reach the town, quests are given out by speaking to townsfolk or looking at the board in the town centre. You will soon start to realise that these side quests are mandatory if you want to rebuild the village or improve your character. In addition, the nature of the requests – find wood, kill enemies and so forth – are no different from your main quest requirements. They are also extremely monotonous in nature and there is a seemingly endless cycle to complete.
As well as the progression in Rising being tied mostly to tasks which are fetch quests in nature, the story within is also not much to write home about. Usually for a new IP title that is a RPG, to stand out the story must stand above all. Not here. The tale we get is rather basic, based around ancient tech and helping out a village in need of repair.
This is in fairness only a taster of what is to come. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is not a fully fledged RPG and will clock in at around ten to fifteen hours in order to roll credits. Completion time will vary depending on how many side quests you decide to complete, yet it feels like a game that wants to do so much more, but just hasn’t got that spark that an instant classic has.
With Hundred Heroes set to launch in 2023 we could see the developers using fan feedback to tweak the full fat title into something quite special. That said, what we have here is an RPG that does nothing to stand out and keeps every inch of the experience simple and basic.
Sadly that is pretty much Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising in a nutshell. Basic.
Nothing in Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising’s gameplay mechanics truly stand out when compared to other similar titles in an already oversaturated genre. For those hoping for a rip roaring tale full of twists and turns this is not one for you. “Funny once” names such as Garoo or a crocodile in a cowboy hat named Hogan are just not enough to carry Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising to the upper echelons of the RPG kingdom.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is available from the Xbox Store