Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising Hands-On – The Start of Something Beautiful
Konami may have forgotten the Suikoden series, but fans certainly did not. Years after the release of the final main entry in the series, Suikoden V, and the spin-off Suikoden Tierkreis, fans are continuing to clamor for more, despite seeing a proper conclusion to the series having become almost impossible due to the departure of Suikoden's creator Yoshitaka Murayama from Konami.
Thankfully, those who loved the designer's previous games have a lot to be looking forward to, as he is currently working on Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, a new Japanese role-playing game that will try to capture the spirit of the Suikoden series and present it to modern audiences.
As fans wait for the game to release in 2023, they will be able to get a first look at the Eiyuden Chronicles' universe with the companion game Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, a 2D action role-playing game with a very traditional flavor that is setting out to be a delightful, if simple, game.
I recently had the chance to try out the first few hours of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, and I have been quite pleased with what I experienced. The story, set in the small mining town of New Neveah, feels relatively simple, but the mention of specific technology, artifacts, and different countries suggests that the world of Eiyuden Chronicle will be quite complex, in true Suikoden tradition. Plenty of central characters alongside protagonists CJ, Garoo, and Isha are introduced from the get-go, and the excellent sprite work makes them instantly memorable. The story, to be honest, seems to start a little slow, but I am sure things will pick up once the obligatory introductions to the Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising world and characters are over and done.
While it is still too early to know if the Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising's story will be good enough on its own, and not just as an introduction to Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, it's clear right from the start how fun the experience will be. In some ways, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising feels like a Metroidvania lite, featuring multiple interconnected locations with blocked paths that can only be explored once certain items have been found. For example, in the forest, one of the paths is blocked by a giant boulder that can only be destroyed after getting the Pickaxe. A few other blocked paths couldn't be cleared in the preview build, so I expect this to be one of the central exploration mechanics in the final game.
Combat is also quite interesting, as it attempts to mix combat mechanics lifted from games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and other modern Metroidvania games with other taken from other turn-based role-playing games like Valkyrie Profile. All three playable characters have unique abilities, such as a quick dash for CJ and a parry for Garoo, and they can all be switched in combat seamlessly. Each character is assigned to one of the face buttons, and pressing the button assigned to a non-controlled character at the right time will switch the character and make them perform a special Link Attack. This rhythmic nature of the combat already shines against the weak enemies found in the first two main locations in the game, so it will be very interesting to see how complex it can get later in the game, considering that each character's abilities can also be further expanded by upgrading equipment.
Combat and exploration are only part of the Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising experience. The game comes with some town-building mechanics that will see CJ and her friends collect materials to build shops and facilities inside New Neveah. In the preview build, these mechanics are a little limited, as players don't do much else other than gathering materials and bringing them back to the village as the story dictates, so it is hard to say if things will be more complex in the final version.
As a huge Metroidvania fan, I really enjoyed what I played of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising. The beautiful 2D visuals, the heartwarming premise, and the action combat all have a very distinct first PlayStation era flavor, but the game doesn't just stop at being a nostalgia-invoking experience, as it's clear how the developer wanted to do something more than just that. How the game will hold up remains to be seen, but it's undeniable that Eiyuden Chronicles: Rising is off to a very good start.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising launches this year on PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
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