Chronicle of Eiyuden: Rising makes some sense. It’s a prequel to Chronicle of Eiyuden: One Hundred Heroeswhich is itself the spiritual renewal of the Suikoden series that spanned several acclaimed RPGs as well as spin-off card games, visual novels, strategy games, and more. Still Suikoden was never an action game, and now that the series creator Yoshitaka Murayama came back with Chronicle of Eiyudenwhat better form for its prequel than a side-scrolling action title with some RPG trappings?
fans of the Suikoden the series could expect a complex and morally gray story of divided empires and loyalties, with over a hundred characters to recruit, and it looks like they’ll get that with the main Chronicle of Eiyuden Game. However, they won’t find much of that in Rising. It stakes a story in the ramshackle frontier village of New Neveah, where noble and unscrupulous adventurers gather to explore treacherous mines and ancient ruins. One such wanderer is CJ, a spindly, energetic scavenger sent on a coming-of-age quest by his tribe. She wants treasure – ancient magic lenses in particular – but to get anywhere she must team up with a cynical kangaroo swordsman named Garoo and a demanding young mayor named Isha, who is also a skilled spellcaster. Small town politicians usually have day jobs, you know.
And so Chronicle of Eiyuden: Rising embodies another element of the classic Suikoden: build a city. Much of the game’s initial stretch finds CJ happily running errands for New Neveah’s merchants, wanderers, and farmers, usually hunting monsters and items in the forest and quarries around town. Each new discovery brings a useful new feature to the town, a stamp on CJ’s adventure license map, or a reason for her bickering with Garoo.
It’s all a bit tedious at first, dominated by fetch quests that rarely go beyond talking to townspeople and finding them stuff. CJ’s battles against local wildlife don’t get particularly difficult or complex either: she only has one attack and can’t dodge, but her enemies are largely predictable and cycle with slight variations of a region. to the other. At least the surroundings are pretty, with bright, colorful backgrounds and music that spans sweet meadow melodies and climactic boss battle themes.
Yet that’s not all Chronicle of Eiyuden: Rising. After an initial drag in the early hours, CJ has more to do. She joins Garoo (and later Isha), unlocking the game’s unique attack system. Each of the three action buttons allows a different character to land a hit and press them in succession, similar to Valkyrie Profile, sets up combo attacks and damaging extra hits. Between CJ’s fast pickaxes, Garoo’s heavy blade, and Isha’s long-range magic, there’s a good variety of battles even when the enemies are the same group you’ve faced dozens of times before.
This makes up for the game’s pretty loose mechanics nicely. Enemies are hard to dodge and hard to see at times, but all three heroes can be just as cheap with their combined assault, and the save points are forgiving. Exploring nearby areas is also faster thanks to the many menu shortcuts, which is especially appreciated when CJ and his crew need to revisit areas. And there’s a lot of backtracking due to the game metroid-esque progression. New elemental powers allow you to destroy certain stones and open up new sections of high-traffic places, even if they are light on real hidden areas.
A stronger storyline also emerges. CJ proves a likable heroine and a goof with a heart of gold beneath her selfish veneer, and she amusingly plays with Garoo’s tough exasperation and Isha’s reserved, upright disposition, not to mention the growing cast of city mercenaries, hard-luck, and a dangerously misguided magical girl. Rising also leaves a trail of interesting clues to everything from CJ’s family customs and Isha’s missing father to the true nature of the magic lenses and ancient secrets buried around New Neveah. It’s easier to tolerate repeated trips to the mines or the woods (with yet another battle against the same tree monster) when there’s a new plot development or funny conversation at the end.
It all sounds surprisingly substantial for a modestly priced prequel presumably designed to set up the real thing. Chronicle of Eiyuden. Despite the backtracking and small scale, there’s plenty to accomplish in the many side quests, collectibles, and story arcs. It also presents a technically sound basis for its follow-up. Apart from the bright backgrounds, the characters follow the first Suikoden tradition of relatively simple sprites with often good animation, though sometimes hard to make out in the small-screen Switch version (the same goes for some of the text). And while there’s no voice acting, the localization gives the characters plenty of spirit.
Call Chronicle of Eiyuden: Rising a simple introduction to the second coming of Suikoden is doing it a disservice: it’s a gripping adventure in its own right. The relatively basic combat mechanics are rarely frustrating, and a seemingly tedious excursion into city building leads to far more satisfying places. If anything, it will be a bummer if CJ, Garoo and the rest of RisingThe actors of do not get significant roles in the full-fledged film Chronicle of Eiyuden, because they certainly deserve more attention. It is the same Rising himself.