Action RPG fans may find something in its fast-paced mission-based structure, but its lack of mechanical depth will tire even the most patient.
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the announcement of Chronicle of Eiyuden: One Hundred Heroes it was like an elixir for RPG fans. A supposedly impossible project, with an impressive creative team and the determination to resurrect not only a long dormant series, but also visual and narrative styles that seemed lost forever. But Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is a reality, backed by a successful campaign in Starterthe spiritual successor of Suikoden – one of the countless victims of the gulags of Konami – also counts with the return of his visionary duo, Yoshitaka Murayama and Junko Kawanoin what promises to be one of the most popular RPGs of 2023. The Eiyuden Chronicle campaign, however, hid a little surprise, now revealed in all its glory: a small game, a secondary story called Rising, which serves first contact with this mysterious world painted in HD-2D.
Chronicle of Eiyuden: Rising takes on the arduous task of presenting to a community thirsty for novelties what they can expect from new works by Murayama, whether on a narrative or even visual level. An unfair task, too painful for a project born from the Kickstarter campaign, as one of the objectives imposed by the producer Rabbit and Bear Studios. Rising is a secondary chapter, an introductory story, perhaps just a very neat excerpt regarding the tone of this new RPG series, but whose mission is to introduce what is still unknown and in this sense, it is difficult to exceed expectations. But before understanding what does not work in Rising, and what it does that is very irritating, it should be remembered that this spin-off, which presents itself as a 2D action RPG, is not developed by Rabbit & Bear Studios, responsible for One Hundred Heroes, but for Natsume Atariwho took on the responsibility of creating a side project to benefit the legion of fans who supported the campaign.
That said, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is a frustrating game, where its potential is as obvious as its problems, never finding a satisfying balance throughout the campaign. The short campaign takes us to meet CJ, an intrepid adventurer in search of fame and glory, whose travels lead her to New Nevaeh, a city built around an area rich in treasures, where several bounty hunters come to try their luck. New Nevaeh has seen better times, now disgraced, aging and crumbling, its inhabitants doing all they can to accommodate adventurers exploring the ruins, but the local economy is failing. What begins as a quest for glory and inheritance turns into a fight for the future of the village, with CJ joining Isha and Garoo as they complete quests, help villagers, and create the ecosystem necessary for the village. flourishing of New Nevaeh in the face of adversity. As the countryside progresses, the streets are no longer empty, filling with shops and visitors, and the fields begin to produce the supplies the town needs to ensure its inhabitants survive. The traditional ‘good versus evil’ narrative is never far away in Rising, as you’d expect, but it’s its story of unity and resilience that gives it a more refreshing tinge, complemented by its more relaxed atmosphere. and even humorous.
The village expansion directly impacts the gameplay of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, to the point where I think it’s one of its best features. The campaign is split between dungeon crawling, resource gathering, and side quest solving, with the village gradually demonstrating the march of CJ, Isha, and Garoo. As we solve the many tasks available, we see New Nevaeh growing, gaining new stores, and providing better customization options that expand the mechanics of Rising. If we start the campaign with a tavern and an inn, in a few hours the streets present farms, but also blacksmiths, where we can improve our weapons, and other vendors who help us expand our combat options, but also to collect resources. Since there is this link between exploration and village growth, any visit to the dungeons, where we find the resources necessary to complete the available tasks, gains a new depth, because we feel that we are not wasting time with repetitive missions, but expanding our combat options – at least during the first hours of the game.
Although there is a currency system, items can be acquired through trade and crafting, which means it becomes even more imperative to wager on long-term resources. For example, the growth of shops and mechanics in Rising. Each store has a fixed number of options per level, and if we want to expand the possibility of improving weapons or creating new equipment, we must complete the tasks associated with the store. This leads us to collect new resources not only for the expansion of these businesses, but also for the creation of the objects that we unlock. If we combine the progression of gameplay, with new equipment adding new skills and combinations to combat – which depend on the level of weapons and equipment – with the visual growth of the village, which extends through new streets full shops and new inhabitants, Rising becomes addictive because we want to continue helping our neighbors and improving new mechanics. This vicious circle becomes even more evident with the addition of cards that are stamped at the end of side missions, the progress of which is also linked to the growth of the village, resulting in an experience where you are always looking for something, as if the machine continues to work, even when you think it has stopped – even if it becomes very tired in the final stretch of Rising.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the combat system, which comes across as a mix of safe and superficial ideas. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is a 2D action RPG, as I mentioned earlier, similar to titles like Sphere of Odinalthough much more limited when it comes to the perspective game of the game of VanillaWareor Ys III: Wanderers of Ys, where combat is limited to linear, static scenarios, a handful of enemies, and few opportunities for platforming or puzzles. When you visit a dungeon, you know what you want to do, whether it’s the basic encounters, marked by almost non-existent combinations and very rigid animations, or the grueling ease with which you face most creatures in the game. rigidity in combat comes, in my opinion, from the way you switch between the characters. Each hero is relegated to a single button and it is enough to press this button to rotate our team. It’s a much more intuitive method, no doubt, as it cuts out unnecessary shortcuts between hero switches, but it also means that all of a character’s attacks must be centered on their button. In this way, it becomes difficult to add new combinations or greater fluidity of attacks when the combat system is built on such simple mechanics.
Natsume Atari tried to expand the mechanics of Rising, with CJ and company introducing special abilities, but they didn’t do much, not least because they came too late. As the evolution of weapons and equipment is associated with the progression of the village and the story itself, many skills will not be unlocked until a few hours after the start of the campaign. It wouldn’t be a problem if we were talking about more powerful and difficult to execute attacks, but that’s not the case. In Rising, you have to unlock options as basic as upper and lower attacks, absent for several hours.
Its status as a spiritual series is not only necessary because it is the new project of the director of Suikoden. It is still too early to understand all the influences of the mythical Konami series, but Rising has already shown us that the Runes, one of the most emblematic elements of the Suikoden saga, continue to be present in this new franchise, allowing players to unlock new dungeon areas and add elemental attacks and defenses to all three characters. We also focus on the combination of attacks of the three protagonists, which can be activated by pressing the buttons at the right time, something that we can associate, albeit very far-fetched, with the Konami series. However, I assume both of these mechanics are enhanced, but in Rising they serve a very rigid and unimaginative purpose, demonstrating how little this action-RPG does with its formula.
The same goes for Rising, a secondary project, whose budget does not hide its problems – especially in the animations and in the low resolution of the character models, which are not surprising in this 2D in HD. It’s a very simple, almost basic action-RPG that comes to life through the surefire loop between resource gathering and city expansion. We asked for more about this format and it’s disappointing how little Rising does with its world and mechanics, but put into perspective, what could we ask from a project born out of a Kickstarter campaign?
I may be hard on Rising, but this shows how expectations work in the video game industry, even when we’re aware of its production limitations.
Review copy (PlayStation 5 version) provided by 505 Games.