I’ve never seen a small spin-off game so comprehensively live up to my expectations. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising was fun, short lived, slightly repetitive but made me curious to learn more. It was exactly as I had imagined. Releasing a companion game before the main game – in this case, the upcoming Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes – is certainly an unusual choice, especially given that Rising takes a very different approach to its JRPG sibling by pitting turn-based combat against a 2D -Action exchanges. RPG format. Make no mistake though, it pays to play to your own strengths.
Our goal in Rising is to rebuild New Neveah, a city that was destroyed by an earthquake a few months ago. Several ruins were also unearthed in the same event, which were full of treasure, and that’s where we come in. As the Honorable Scavenger, CJ, our role in rebuilding is to provide each dweller with the materials they have requested, from simple ores and lumber to later more specialized items. Be aware that this isn’t a city building sim like Cities: Skylines – here, every building location is predetermined and there’s no finer crafting involved, so don’t expect anything too in-depth. You can’t freely interact with the average NPC either, so New Neveah isn’t always the most exciting place to be. Still, there’s an undeniable charm this little town displays as it grows, and while that’s not the most inventive premise, there’s one mystery that catches my attention.
Progress is represented by a stamp card system, and every time you help the residents you earn another. Completing your Stamp Book upgrades it to the next level, bringing more people to town and more opportunities, and you can later exchange Stamps for more exciting items at the Trading Post. You’ll need a few initially to get an explorer’s license for the ruins, so it’s a bit odd to see CJ invest so much in collecting stamps when you’ve done that, but to see how she puts herself into it very committed to rebuilding this city is pretty sweet.
Rising takes a Metroidvania approach to exploration, blocking certain areas until you find a set ability. For example, CJ’s double jump isn’t available until you upgrade her armor, on the grounds that it’s become lighter and less restrictive, allowing her to reach certain platforms. It’s a stable system that rewards the more thorough explorers, but doesn’t limit your ability to obtain resources. Of course, these areas are also teeming with your monstrous monsters and a few bosses to fend them off, and CJ is soon joined by two other party members: young acting mayor Isha, who is fighting to keep this town afloat after her father’s disappearance keep holding my interest. There’s also Garoo, an anthropomorphic kangaroo mercenary who claims he’s only in it for the money but made me laugh because he often gives in to CJ’s demands.
You can easily switch between party members while exploring, as all three are mapped to a set face button that also activates their attack. There’s a decent variety here: Garoo is your slow but heavy hitter whose greatsword is good at smashing enemy shields, Isha uses magic for ranged attacks and getting through enemies’ magical barriers, and CJ offers a nice one with her two pickaxes Mid-range, so you may have to switch between them frequently. Eventually, equippable Rune Lenses will become available, dealing elemental damage to your team weapon. This adds some strategy to the fights, as some enemies may be weak to fire damage but resistance to lightning, although it doesn’t make much of a difference. With elemental stones blocking your path, meeting the right Rune Lens also opens up new areas of exploration.
Initially, you can’t do much more than one-button attacks, so the feel of combat feels rather basic. New abilities are only unlocked by upgrading weapons and armor, and unlike other RPGs, you don’t have to sell your legendary weapons to random shopkeepers once you have a better one, as they all level up through incremental upgrades, assuming you have that money and the materials; Given Hundred Heroes’ many promising protagonists, I’d call this a smart approach to limit the burden of micromanagement. I only wish Rising hadn’t locked behind these upgrades easy moves like attacking up-spikes or down-spikes – it’s an odd choice that makes the wee hours seem too easy. I never expected a small spin-off game to do anything revolutionary with its progression system, but I would have liked a little more depth.
Combat isn’t just simple; on standard difficulty it’s a piece of cake. Clearing out these ruins wasn’t particularly challenging, and if you’re looking for a tougher fight, unfortunately Hard Mode is locked until you complete the 12-hour campaign for the first time. Luckily, once you’ve acquired those new moves and Rune Lenses, the combat opens up later, leaving some room for strategy. Pulling off combos also felt damn satisfying, a feeling reinforced by the slow-motion sequence that activates alongside, slowly showing your team racing into the opposition. There’s a frenzy that comes from flushing out tougher enemies with a quick series of punches, dealing huge damage over a matter of seconds. This is an area where the basic nature of combat is beneficial, as your party will work in unison without complicated inputs. These can be deducted manually or activated automatically via “Easy Mode”, but remember that this isn’t a difficulty setting – it’s for control only.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising Screenshots
It doesn’t take much combat, gathering resources and finding New Neveah to become a thriving city again, featuring all the classic buildings you would expect from a fantasy RPG. Inns, taverns, blacksmiths, all the usual sights are here. Smaller shops like the pharmacy must be unlocked through side missions found on a notice board in New Neveah’s Plaza, and thankfully these don’t take long to complete.
Quests usually require no more than providing each dweller with the requested materials, but I took pride in rebuilding New Neveah. The results are immediate, and transforming this city from a devastated chaos to a thriving hub has been rewarding. This feeling is beautifully reflected in CJ’s own personal development, which sees her evolve from an ambitious treasure hunter to someone who would do anything for her citizens. New Neveah’s growth is fueled by a beautiful artistic direction, and Rising is packed with vibrant environments that I could watch all day. Whether it’s the beautiful trees of the Great Forest or the icy tundra known as Snowpeak, NatsumeAtari has paid great attention to detail here, and that’s a key part of its charm.
Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, this mission structure quickly becomes repetitive, although the worst culprits are found in the side missions. The main quests vary widely, but if you’re planning on going one step further for this town, almost everything is a fetch quest for gathering materials. It certainly makes sense from a story perspective – after all, you can’t do much building work if there aren’t resources to work with. But even with fast travel, constantly traveling between these ruins was becoming tedious. I counted three instances where I had to find the exact same ore, so I had to keep exploring the same locations. Luckily, the Trading Post often has what you need, just not always cheap.
While I understand these are optional, ignoring these quests can lock some important upgrades to your weapons and armor with their respective attack and defense boosts, putting you at a significant disadvantage later in battle. But the biggest facilities you’ll need are locked into main missions, and if you take a moment to smash every rock, tree, and enemy you encounter while exploring, you might already have the necessary resources with you yourself when you record it with a request. Admittedly, the carrying capacity is limited, but the storage space can also be generously expanded.
Despite going through everything before the final boss, Rising only took me 12 hours to complete. This relatively low (for a JRPG) hour count isn’t all that surprising for a companion game, and you can increase this up to 15 hours by adding post-game content, adding more side quests to complete your stamp book. It’s not the longest adventure but crucial, this main story never felt stretched out, everything unfolded at a natural pace. As the story of the party continues in Hundred Heroes – CJ, Garoo, Isha, and four other Rising characters all appear as protagonists – expect there to be a few loose threads left by the end of the story, but I found a satisfying conclusion nonetheless.
https://www.ign.com/articles/eiyuden-chronicle-rising-review Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising Review – IGN