Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising Review — Do You Wanna Build A Village?

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is a charming if tedious RPG that probably shouldn't have been an RPG.

They say it takes an adventurer to build a village. But in Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising’s case, it takes a league of exploited travelers doing unpaid labor to repair a town in the hopes of gaining a license to find treasure nearby, 30% of which gets taxed by said town. 

Rising is the prequel of sorts to Rabbit and Bear's Suikoden spiritual successor, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, and while it's an earnest and even refreshing companion game in some respects, a clunky combat system and tedious mission structure make it hard not to think Rising didn't need to be a traditional game at all.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising Review  Do You Wanna Build A Village?

The story opens with CJ, a young girl from a tribe of scavengers – thieves with morals, as she calls them – out to seek her fortune in the mines of New Neveah. The town is in the grips of a gold rush, so to speak, as explorers from across the world descend in the hopes of profiting from the underground riches newly revealed by a massive earthquake. 

Before setting foot inside New Neveah’s walls, you’ll notice two things. One is how absolutely gorgeous Rising is. Bunny and Bear employ what looks like a variation of 2D-HD with a smart use of depth to create a sense of vastness in what’s otherwise a very linear world. It’s one of a handful of games where I’d stop and spend a few minutes soaking everything in after reaching a new area.

The other thing that hits you is a group of bandits. The ne’er-do-wells are attacking a dapper and defenseless lizard. CJ is his only hope, and it’s as good an excuse as any for a combat tutorial. 

Not that one is needed, mind you. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising’s combat is one of its weakest areas, an overly simplistic system that never evolves through the roughly 10 hours of adventuring ahead of you. It’s more enjoyable after additional characters join your ranks, but for at least the next hour or two, you’re stuck with CJ’s very basic attack and dash setup.

Even with a bigger party, it's a bit of a disappointment, and not quite the kind of action I hoped for from this action RPG spinoff . Character movements are surprisingly slow, and the lack of skills and moves means you’re just pressing a few buttons again and again. The action itself isn’t quite as fluid as you’d expect from an ARPG either, and most fights consist of dodging a few simple moves before using your own simple moves.

Hogan, the lizard man, escorts CJ to town, where you’ll meet several new personalities: Squash the bird who appraises your finds for the city tax – a necessary evil, though his heart lies with the finds themselves and not the town’s coffers – and Isha, the conniving young mayor determined to rebuild her town whatever the cost may be (for you and everyone else). 

What stands out the most is just how much personality each character has, even ones that seem unimportant to the main plot. Minus a few jokes that overstay their welcome, Rising's writing is superb, full of life and charm. It's almost impossible not to get invested in CJ's world.

There’s a refreshing simplicity to Rising as well. "Its focus is clear and it knows what it wants to be…" is what I’d like to say. The sentiment holds true for the characters and the world in general, but what you do in between story beats and character moments lets all that down.

Rising settles into a pattern after the opening segment, gradually introducing a handful of new key characters alongside main quests and side quests. Isha ropes CJ into helping rebuild the town, which Rising takes quite literally. 

Most of your early quests and all of the later side quests revolve around finding materials, and that means revisiting the same places multiple times. In just the first two hours, I visited the initial forest area roughly five or six times – first to explore, then to find wood, then to find a different kind of wood.

I went back later to find some nuts for a hungry watchman, then went back again for something I’ve already forgotten about. New areas open up after you acquire new tools, such as the pickaxe, so expect to see the same scenery for a very long time.

It doesn’t help that Rising packs so many quests into it. So. Many. Quests. Isha gives CJ a stamp card with 30 empty slots, a sort of merit tracker that determines when CJ is eligible for entering the mines or earning other privileges. Fill that up by completing quests, and you get another card. And then another. It’s tedious, though sometimes rewarding. While the main quests usually have varying objectives, sidequests tend to fall into the same trap.

Rising’s superb writing and world-building saves it, though, and occasionally extends into the side quests and building quests, with CJ coming across a sparkling cast of non-portraited characters reminiscent of Nihon Falcom’s Trails series at times. Sure, you’ll get snacks for soldiers and help kids find their lost pets, but sometimes, you’ll also run across people with more interesting motivations, better-developed personalities, and a stake in the world you’re helping create. 

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising Review — The Bottom Line 

Pros

  • Excellent writing.
  • Standout character design and personalities.
  • Gorgeous world.

Cons

  • Rough, stilted, and simple combat.
  • So many tedious quests. So. Many.
  • Overly repetitive structure.

Whether the world-building and strong writing make Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising worth a look is highly dependent on what you want from it. It seems evident a visual novel-style pack-in companion would have served the developers’ goals more efficiently: the real draw here is the world they’re constructing and the people, anthropomorphic and otherwise, who make it tick.

[Note: 505 Games provided the copy of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising used for this review.]

Our Rating
6
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is a charming if tedious RPG that probably shouldn't have been an RPG.
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch

Contributor

Josh Broadwell started gaming in the early '90s. But it wasn't until 2017 he started writing about them, after finishing two history degrees and deciding a career in academia just wasn't the best way forward. You'll usually find him playing RPGs, strategy games, or platformers, but he's up for almost anything that seems interesting.

Games Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising Genres ActionRPG Platforms PC Tags action rpg
Published May. 11th 2022

Cached - article_comments_article_71858
Related
More Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising Content