Let’s quickly dispel some of the confusion surrounding Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising. Set in the same world as the upcoming Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, this is a separate companion game, giving JRPG fans a taste of what’s to come. However, when it comes to gameplay, the two are completely different, even if they share the same setting and a number of key characters.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is a 2D dungeon-crawling roleplaying game that at times feels like a classic arcade brawler. Meanwhile, Eiyuden: Hundred Heroes is a turn-based JRPG that many have likened to Konami’s dormant Suikoden series. Those comparisons are entirely valid with Yoshitaka Murayama, the creator of Suikoden, helming the project alongside Junko Kawano and their team at Rabbit & Bear Studios. In many ways, this mirrors what happened with Castlevania and Koji Igarashi – another languishing Konami IP that saw one of its visionaries leave to create an almost identical video game.
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In some ways, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising feels more like a Castlevania game as you explore its 2D levels, purging them of monsters. There’s even that same trait of revisiting areas to unlock new pathways as your characters learn new abilities. Speaking of characters, Rising does something really interesting that helps it transcend from being a fairly basic 2D action game.
Our main hero, CJ, is a scavenger who embarks on a quest to retrieve priceless treasures from the Runebarrows in New Neveah. For her, this is a rite of passage within her clan, though the promise of riches attracts adventurers from all over the continent. She is soon joined by a sword-wielding kangaroo (fittingly named Garoo) and the spell-slinging Isha, acting mayor of New Neveah.
When out exploring dungeons, you control all three party members albeit one at a time. Switching your active character is as simple as hitting their assigned action button though you can easily weave together their attacks for flashy team combos. It’s an effective system and as you gradually progress through Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, each hero becomes more defined in their combat capabilities. For example, Garoo is beefier than his companions, with the ability to block – or even parry – incoming attacks.
When CJ isn’t hunting for loot, she’s helping to rebuild New Neveah. Wracked by devastating earthquakes, the mining town is under new leadership and in desperate need of aid. However, those outlanders willing to lend a helping hand are sometimes met with hostility, leading to tensions between characters.
It isn’t long before this settlement starts to take shape once again. You’ll run errands and gather materials, reporting back to New Neveah as its districts and facilities are rapidly rebuilt. Aside from making the town look more presentable, these have an impact on your progress – the blacksmith and armourer will allow you to upgrade gear with better stats, for instance.
The game layers 2D pixel characters onto detailed 3D backdrops, an effect that is very much in vogue for JRPGs in 2022. It’s a stylistic mix that works well, leaning on the honed muscles of Eiyuden’s art team. There are some truly inventive character designs at work, including the aforementioned Garoo, as well as other anthropomorphic adventurers. However, some of the townsfolk and secondary characters look a bit plain, the cutscenes also lacking a certain flare as you tap your way through dialogue boxes. It should be said that music is a real treat.
As a companion game, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising feels surprisingly fleshed out, though we’re curious to see how long it clocks in at and whether the gameplay systems go any deeper. Still, it’s a fun 2D action RPG and one that does a great job of establishing this world without drowning the player in boring exposition. Eiyuden: Hundred Heroes is still a little way off, but at least you can start exploring Allraan very soon.
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