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Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising review — A fascinating fusion of old and new

I want to live in these picturesque environments.

Eiyuden Chronicle Rising Hero
(Image: © Windows Central)

JPRGs are a vital component of video gaming history. This beloved sub-genre even housed many of the biggest titles available at one period. Gargantuan blockbusters like Pokémon Red & Blue and Final Fantasy VII dominated conversations and mindshare amongst hardcore and casual gaming enthusiasts. And while standout franchises such as Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest have gone on to be global sensations, there have unfortunately been countless critical darlings wholly lost to the annals of time. Suikoden is one such series.

When this cult hit landed on the original PlayStation back in 1996, it treated players to a unique blend of classic turn-based combat, political drama, and enormous threads of overarching character storylines. Fans enjoyed the complexity of the franchise's storytelling and evolving battle systems. Sadly, despite a passionate audience, the last Suikoden title was released exclusively in Japan in 2012 on PSP.

Understanding the desires of players, Rabbit and Bear Studios, established by key members of the Suikoden team, launched a Kickstarter for Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. This ambitious RPG promised to serve as a spiritual successor to Suikoden and provide fresh gameplay mechanics. Ahead of the release of Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes in 2023, the team has also launched a companion title called Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising this week, which serves as a prequel to the events of the main game.

I've spent close to 20 hours meeting the acentric characters of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising and exploring the stunning environments of this world. As a massive fan of titles like Steam World Dig, I genuinely enjoyed the 2D platforming action and emphasis on resource collecting. Although there are undoubtedly a handful of glaring shortcomings, the distinctive art style and enchanting glimpse into the future of Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes make this bite-sized JRPG one worthy of your time.

Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review code provided by 505 Games. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising — What you'll like

Eiyuden Chronicle Rising Combat

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

2D pixel art was once a staple of video game development, primarily due to hardware limitations. As consoles and PCs became more powerful, so did the expectations from 3D graphics and eventually saw many legacy franchises adopt the extra-dimensional approach. However, there's been a 2d model renaissance in recent years thanks to beautifully constructed releases like Octopath Traveler that combine classic pixels with bold 3D environments. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising perfects this formula by delivering one of my new favorite art styles.

CategoryGameNameXXX
TitleEiyuden Chronicle: Rising
DeveloperRabbit and Bear Studios
Publisher505 Games
GenreJRPG
Xbox versionXbox Series X|S, Xbox One
Game Size5GB
Play time15+ hours
PlayersSingle
Xbox Game PassYes
Launch price$15

Carefully crafted 2D character models seamlessly blend with fully rendered 3D backdrops. Gorgeous vistas explode with color, details, and physics in ways that just weren't possible during the era of Suikoden. Thanks to the attention to detail with lighting and reflections, I never got tired of stopping to absorb the genuine slender of the various locations in Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising. This attractive JRPG is a visual showcase that perfectly blends designs from the past with modern capabilities to implement unmatched art direction.

A genuinely compelling combat system that combines platforming action with intuitive button commands compliments the lush environments and picturesque backdrops. Initially, the battles in Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising felt disappointedly simple. Our main protagonist, CJ, controls precisely as you'd expect with a 2D side-scroller, with the A button being jump and X acting as your primary attack. Thankfully, things get far more engaging when your second and third companions join the fight.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising focuses heavily on resource collection, town management, and Metroidvania-inspired progression.

All three main heroes are assigned to a distinct action button. CJ is X. Garoo, the Kangaroo, is Y, and Isha, the mage, is B. Players can quickly swap between any character when confronting enemies by simply pressing their assigned attack button. This fluid combat system allows for an excellent assortment of combos and even hyper-flashy link attacks that can stun powerful enemies or bosses. The more I played Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, the more I fell in love with the concealed depth of this JRPG's action-oriented gameplay mechanics.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

In many ways, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising has everything you'd expect from a classic action RPG. It's got experience, leveling, equipment, and magic. However, this apparent homage to the past also brings a great deal of fascinating current design elements to the equation. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising focuses heavily on resource collection, town management, and Metroidvania-inspired progression. Back-tracking and double-jumping included.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising does a remarkable job rewarding your endeavors, from new equipment and ability upgrades to powerful elemental magic enhancements. Every objective you complete in your adventures goes towards various progress avenues. Some unlocks or achievements were clearly more worthwhile than others. Still, I appreciated how the game introduced new vendors, cooking upgrades, temporary buffs, and gear. If you enjoy the cozy, chore-centric loop of titles like Animal Crossing or SteamWorld Dig, you shouldn't instantly connect with these systems.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising — What you won't like

Eiyuden Chronicle Rising Ice

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

While Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising features an extensive cast of quirky and memorable characters, the same can't be said about its enemy variety. The game's introductory location, The Great Forest, does a decent enough job trickling in new enemy types. Unfortunately, after about 45 minutes, you've seen close to 75% of what Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising offers in terms of creatures and combatants.

Essentially there are flying gargoyles, oozing slime balls, wolves, bandits, and elemental sorcerers. Each of the game's biomes features slight variations of these enemies, but their appearance and behaviors aren't dramatically different. Ultimately, the excellent combat kept this repetition from growing overwhelmingly stale, but I couldn't help but feel disappointed by the limited assortment of enemies in Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising.

Many of the sidequests in Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising are tedious and pointless.

Another noteworthy criticism stems from the baffling amount of unnecessary back-tracking baked into this JRPG. I'm no stranger to the typical flow of games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night or Hollow Knight that encourage re-exploration with a kit of new movement abilities. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising mirrors these fundamentals, but unfortunately, it also ham-fists redundant sequences that force the player to explore fresh locations and immediately return to camp to complete fetch quests before proceeding. Frequently this incessant need to pad progression hurts the flow of the game.

Eiyuden Chronicle Rising Golem

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Players aiming to 100% Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising can expect to spend roughly 20 hours fighting their way through a host of exotic locations and dungeons. However, I wouldn't expect all of the game's content to fire on the same caliber as the core campaign. Many of the sidequests in Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising are tedious and pointless.

In some cases, you are tasked with speaking with an NPC who wants you to report to another NPC that is 10 literally feet away. There are legitimately several sidequests that follow that exact structure and countless others that adhere to similarly uninspired formulas. While you can certainly skip over these optional missions, many critical upgrades and abilities are directly tied to completing at least several dozen of them, making their flaws all the more egregious.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising — Should you play it?

Eiyuden Chronicle Rising Cave

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

For fans of classic JRPGs, Metroidvanias, or the upcoming spiritual reboot of Suikoden, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is unquestionably worth your time. The excellent combat, eccentric characters, and impressive art direction confidently provide this action RPG a distinct sense of unmistakable identity. I know visuals aren't everything when it comes to delivering a satisfying overall package. Still, I can't stress enough how much I love the gorgeous mix of 2D and 3D elements in Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising.

While there are a handful of striking issues with this companion title from Rabbit and Bear Studios, the pros undoubtedly outweigh the cons. There is so much to enjoy at $15 or with your Xbox Game Pass subscription with Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising. I've absorbed basically everything this captivating JRPG offers and now can't wait for Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes in 2023.

Miles Dompier is a Freelance Video Producer for Windows Central, focusing on video content for Windows Central Gaming. In addition to writing or producing news, reviews, and gaming guides, Miles delivers fun, community-focused videos for the Windows Central Gaming YouTube channel. Miles also hosts Xbox Chaturdays every Saturday, which serves as the Windows Central Gaming weekly podcast.