suikoden‘s spiritual successor, the hugely successful Kickstarter project Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, isn’t due to release until sometime in 2023 but, in the interim, 505 Games is treating us all to a precursor to the main event in the form of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising which launches today (May 10th) on Xbox Game Pass. This side-scrolling 2.5D adventure sets the stage for next year’s exploits whilst giving players some very nice looking town-building/dungeon-crawling action to get stuck into. But is it any good?
Well, in terms of first impressions, it’s a bit of an odd one for eager Suikoden acolytes who’re waiting with baited breath for the arrival of Hundred Heroes. What we’ve got here is an undoubtedly good-looking scene-setter that’s nailed its aesthetic vibe and gives us a little background into a few characters from next year’s game but, beyond this, it’s hard to see anything here that’ll appeal to turn-based JPG fans.
Starting out in Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, you take control of CJ, a young adventurer who’s hellbent on proving herself as a great treasure hunter by nabbing a huge prize that’s even bigger than the biggest her papa found during his adventuring career. CJ finds herself in New Nevaeh, a town in need of rebuilding that has a unique relationship with “outlanders” such as herself, hiring them out at arm’s length to do chores and stamping a little book for them so they might one day be rewarded with a license to go rummaging through nearby ruins for the tastiest treasures. What follows is a whole lot of busywork and fetch quests to earn stamps as you rally to rebuild shops and various other amenities so that you might make use of them on your dungeon-crawling adventures.
Before long CJ is joined by Garoo, a sword-swinging lizard, and Isha, a skillful sorceress who just happens to be the town’s mayor. Each of these three characters brings a different skill to the table and during combat sequences you can switch between them with the push of a button, as well as chaining their moves together for “link” combos. Light and zippy attacks fall to CJ, heavy attacks are the domain of Garoo, and Isha takes care of dishing out ranged magic damage. All three are also imbued with a special move; CJ can dodge through enemies and incoming assaults to get a better angle on things, Garoo can deflect projects back from when they came and Isha can sort of…well…she can sort of blink straight up in the air.
Oddly, the way in which each character materialises when you press their corresponding attack button makes it feel far more as though you’re in charge of one just main character who transforms temporarily, rather than three separate entities, and in practice it makes for a combat situation that no doubt looked good on paper, but is a bit of a pain when you’re in action. One of the main reasons for this is the difference in traversal methods and speed between each character. CJ is a fast mover who can dodge and, once you’ve slapped an enemy with her and then transitioned to Garoo to lay down a heavy attack, you can find yourself flailing to get back to CJ in order to get out of the way of reprisals The same is true of Isha who just doesn’t feel agile enough in any situation, and so you’ve got a rather clunky setup that takes some frustration to get used to and never ends up feeling slick or addicting.