Game: Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising
Genre: Action RPG, Town Building
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam (Windows),PS4, PS5, Xbox One, & Xbox X/S)
Developers | Publishers: Natsume Atari | 505 Games
Age Rating: US 10+ | EU 12+
Price: US $14.99 | UK £12.99 | EU € 14,99
Release Date: May 10th, 2022
Review code used, with many thanks to Stride PR.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is a short companion game to Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, spiritual successor of classic JRPG Suikoden.
Is Rising worth a look if you weren’t already interested in Hundred Heroes? I’d say yes, for the stunning visuals, lighthearted story, and beginner-friendly combat. But approach with caution if your pet peeves include fetch quests.
Rise of a Kickstarter Spinoff
Hundred Heroes’s Kickstarter campaign was so successful that a separate game, Rising, was created from the funds raised.
This standalone title provides a backstory to several characters who will appear in Hundred Heroes (slated for launch in 2023). Unlike Hundred Heroes, a turn-based JRPG with 100+ playable characters, Rising is an action RPG with 3 playable characters.
Both games share a strong town-building element. They’re set in the same world, where magical artifacts called rune-lenses are prized for their power.
The Quest of an Honorable Scavenger
EC: Rising is story-driven and begins in the shoes of CJ, a plucky teen who calls herself an “honorable scavenger.” More energetic than an Energizer bunny, CJ embodies the Japanese ideal of Genki. While treasure hunting, she finds her goal aligning with the hopes of New Nevaeh’s townsfolk and merchants.
Soon, CJ becomes their ultimate errand girl, to the chagrin of her newfound ally Garoo. A tough kangaroo who trusts nothing but his sword and coin, Garoo is the game’s most endearing character. Though CJ and Garoo’s quarrels are pretty childish, I’ve enjoyed their frequent bickering. Later, they are joined by a third playable character: the young but shrewd Isha, a prodigious magic-user.
For a mere companion game, Rising has a surprising amount of dialogue. The English translation is lively and tries to distinguish certain characters through their accent or manner of speech.
I’m at least two-thirds into the main story and liking it. Some elements, like stamp collecting and hot springs, feel so Japanese in a comforting and amusing way.
Bite-Size Dungeon Crawls
Gameplay consists of two halves: dungeon-crawling and town-building. The game’s “dungeons” are combat/platforming areas outside town. You’ll keep taking short trips out of town to collect resources or advance the main plot.
While exploring dungeons, you mine for resources like lumber and crystal and meat. Dungeon monsters also drop resources, such as gargoyle wings and curry powder (yep).
Back in town, you’ll give those resources to the townsfolk of New Nevaeh to upgrade their businesses or craft stronger equipment for you. You can also sell resources to recoup cash, though I never needed to as the game is generous with resources.
Dungeons are littered with signposts for saving and fast-traveling, while town-building is broken into many bite-sized quests. This makes the game great for 15 to 30-minute sessions. Even after 10 minutes of play, I often feel a small sense of accomplishment. I can’t say that for many JRPGs.
One problem with dungeon crawling, though, is getting lost. I wish Elementum Pillars were marked and color-coded on maps. I’ve wasted a lot of time backtracking and was especially confused during the main quest called “After the Mayor!” which spanned two dungeons.
Otherwise, dungeon-crawling is pretty fun. Platforming is difficult at first, but you’ll unlock helpful moves after certain town upgrades.
Town Building, One Stamp at Time
Progress in town-building is tracked by stamps. For every errand you complete, you get a stamp. Completionists may find this addictive.
While the concept is compelling, the errands are often not. There are too many fetch quests where you merely deliver messages between townspeople across New Nevaeh. And how often is that little boy gonna get himself lost?!
One lifesaver is that I rarely had to make multiple dungeon trips per quest. Often, I accepted a new quest only to fulfill it right away before my supplies had the required items.
And occasionally, someone’s little story is intriguing: an old widow who wants her brooch fixed; or a gambler who hasn’t truly repented.
Errands are most compelling when they unlock new shops or combat abilities. These rewards really make a difference. Unfortunately, the game opens up too slowly. CJ and Garoo’s starting abilities leave them woefully clunky in both combat and platforming. So if I could change one thing about EC: Rising, I would make either CJ’s dash or double-jump available from the get-go.
Honestly, I don’t mind that the game feels like a series of fetch quests, though I could have done with fewer. While Rising‘s linearity and simplicity may lack appeal for some players, it was a nice change for me because my last few games required heavy micromanaging.
Overall, it was satisfying to see New Nevaeh develop. I really felt the town had me to thank for its flourishing! Still, this enjoyment didn’t kick in until the 2-hour mark. So, veteran players may find Rising‘s slow start frustrating. But casual or young players might find it a gentle learning curve.
Party Combo Goodness
Combat is where Rising really shines in the visual department. Backgrounds are drop-dead gorgeous and often add a sense of depth, while a pleasant soundtrack runs underneath it all. And the visual effects are worthy of a blockbuster game.
Gameplay-wise, combat is at first underwhelming but evolves into a fun experience as you unlock new moves through town upgrades. Jumping feels dreadful until you unlock CJ’s dash and double-jumps.
On the other hand, linked attacks are immensely satisfying to execute. In linked attacks, your characters take turns dealing one blow after another. They slow time and stagger enemies, even canceling enemy moves. It looks, sounds, and feels great.
Enemies come in good variety. Despite recurring designs, enemy attacks differ enough to make battles interesting. This variety also encourages you to switch party members often.
You only control one character at a time. Each character corresponds to a different button on the Switch (X, Y, and A), and pressing their assigned button makes a party member “appear” and attack. There’s a slight pause during that transition when characters swap, but it hasn’t bogged me down.
CJ, Garoo, and Isha all play quite differently, which fuels the fun of combat. CJ is great for quick attacks and dodges, while Garoo is slow but hits hard. As for Isha, I’ll let you find out for yourself. She has several magic-powered tricks that will wow players.
Combat isn’t hard at all. Only late-game bosses are tough if you’re not stocked up on healing potions. Gamers who don’t usually play action games should find Rising manageable.
While Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising doesn’t have the stamp of undeniable greatness, it does have truly amazing visuals. The writing/translation, music, and most of combat is rather good too. Town-building feels meaningful as it rewards you with significant growth in combat abilities.
Despite a slow, unimpressive start and getting lost in dungeons, Rising builds into an enjoyable action RPG. It’s an easy game, suitable for casual or younger players. It’s also very linear and repetitive, but some players may find such simplicity relaxing.
If Eiyuden Chronicles: Hundred Heroes can boast similar strengths, I’d be curious to play the longer game when it releases in 2023. Hundred Heroes isn’t planned or confirmed for the Switch yet, but if we’re lucky, I will plead for a larger font than what Rising uses. (On the Switch Lite, text can be painfully small.) Oh, and fewer fetch quests, please!
Now 14 hours into the game, I’m guessing the end is only a few hours away. Instead of rushing, I’ve decided to play in short sessions at leisurely pace. That might be the best way to enjoy Rising.
Final Verdict: I Like It