Final summer time’s Xbox showcase is generally memorable for debuting Starfield, Bethesda’s subsequent galaxy-sized RPG, however on the time I solely had eyes for Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, a relatively tiny, low key JRPG. Eiyuden Chronicle does have a pedigree: it is the religious successor to beloved PlayStation collection Suikoden, and the primary recreation from its creator in years. Eiyuden’s trailer broke the information that it would not arrive till 2023, however writer 505 Video games additionally had an surprising shock: a brand new spin-off that launches this spring, known as Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, which I’ve now gotten an opportunity to play.
I might be mendacity if I known as city constructing my normal jam, however goddamn this left me wanting extra.
Rising is each a companion recreation and prologue to Hundred Heroes. It swaps turn-based battles for a 2D action-RPG, the place we’re rebuilding a ruined mining city known as New Neveah following a devastating earthquake. It is not a metropolis constructing sim like Cities: Skylines, however there is a comparable satisfaction in seeing a digital place come to life as I examine off quests and accumulate the sources wanted to develop the city.
As for the crossover, seven Rising characters will seem in Hundred Heroes, and it units up the state of the world as we’ll encounter it within the JRPG correct. This recreation kicks off the autumn of the Galdean Empire (there’s at all times an empire, and it is at all times bought to fall in some unspecified time in the future, proper?), and taking part in Rising can even unlock 4 particular objects in Hundred Heroes. Crucially, although, this recreation feels value taking part in by itself deserves, backed up by a vibrant visible presentation with clear consideration to element.
You’ll quickly be taught property injury isn’t New Neveah’s solely downside. That earthquake unearthed hidden ruins, stuffed with treasure that attracted all method of chancers. You play as “honourable scavenger” CJ and two different celebration members, together with a younger mayor and a kangaroo mercenary—in different phrases, your common JRPG celebration.
Throughout the few hours of my preview I used to be hooked on the Metroidvania-style development. Treasure searching required upgrading my character’s talents and increasing the celebration to entry new areas. Among the humor actually did not land for me—I did not want to listen to Garoo shouting that CJ’s been bathroom educated since she was 18 months previous—and there’s a “magical woman” who (proper now) feels misplaced on this world, which says quite a bit when there’s anthropomorphic animals working about. However neither felt like a serious deterrent. CJ confirmed promising character growth and I discovered myself drawn into the world Rising is establishing.
Quests by no means felt boring, though they revolved round fetching particular sources from both The Nice Forest or The Quarry, Rising’s two preview ranges. I used these sources to revitalise a city stuffed with traditional fantasy buildings like a smithy, armory, inn, and native tavern. Smaller retailers just like the apothecary are relegated to aspect missions, and a minimum of this early within the recreation had been fast and straightforward to finish, holding the tempo breezy.
I loved serving to the city develop though I could not get far with simply two ranges accessible. I bought a way of pleasure from rebuilding New Neveah, which was mirrored in CJ turning into extra invested locally. Seeing my efforts instantly bear fruit was deeply rewarding: I might examine off a quest after which buildings would spring to life moments later, giving the city a stronger persona. It’s a pleasing something-always-happening feeling, and I shortly fell into the previous “only one extra quest” mentality. Half the enjoyable comes from a full of life solid of townsfolk with enjoyable designs like Frida, New Neveah’s high-spirited armorer, and Hogan, a lizardman working the buying and selling publish.
There are not any turn-based battles, however there are nonetheless monsters to kill throughout exploration. You’ll be able to soar, assault, or use a novel ability in opposition to an enemy, like Garoo’s parry. CJ hits shortly along with her two pickaxes, whereas Garoo is your gradual and heavy sort with the comically outsized sword. Every character has their very own assault button, and you may swap between them in the midst of the motion to carry out a Hyperlink Assault, nearly like tagging in in a combating recreation.
However I wouldn’t name fight a spotlight for Rising throughout this preview: Hyperlink Assaults had been the one accessible combos, and all the things else was restricted to single button inputs. Calling it dangerous feels harsh, but it surely’s actually primary, a minimum of this early. As I didn’t have a full celebration, it is potential there’s extra to fight than I’ve seen, however proper now it appears like an empty snack between meals. Rising’s actual meat lies within the city constructing.
I have been wanting ahead to Hundred Heroes because the Kickstarter campaign, and I got here away pleasantly stunned by this fast-tracked spin-off. Releasing a spin-off earlier than the principle recreation is a peculiar resolution, however in Eiyuden Chronicle’s case, I imagine it’s going to repay. I can not choose how deep the connection between the 2 will find yourself being, however Rising looks like an accessible entry level that may truly stand by itself. City constructing in JRPGs is so usually a aspect dish overshadowed by the story or the battle system, however Rising is blowing it up into a correct first course.