Review: Eiyuden Chronicle Is a Buggy Take on Suikoden
Screenshot by Siliconera

Review: Eiyuden Chronicle Is a Buggy Take on Suikoden 

Some games need to be delayed. The Nintendo Switch version of Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is one of them. My journey with it began with it not getting past selecting New Game from the main menu with patch 1.0.1 applied. This continued to happen when 1.0.2 was released. I downloaded the game to a 1TB microSD card, deleted save files, and attempted to start fresh multiple times. It was only after borrowing someone else’s original model Switch and starting there, then using the Nintendo Switch Online save cloud feature to transfer the file created on it to my Switch OLED, that I could actually begin the game. As of 1.0.3, that issue seems to be patched out based on my testing. Still, this was only the start of my problems with the Suikoden successor Eiyuden Chronicle

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I mean, for the longest time I thought I was going to need to come up with a 1,000 word review of this screen!

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes’ story takes some time to get going. The day Nowa joins the League of Nations’ Watch, an organization designed to protect people in the area, the group teams up with the Galdean Empire company commander Seign in a joint endeavor to retrieve a Primal Rune-Lens from Rune-Barrows near a small town. There isn’t a ton of exposition. Not to mention, people treat Nowa as though they’ve known him forever, and it feels like a relationship already exists between him and Seign, even though he has just met everyone. Once the group finds the Primal Rune-Lens, it quickly jumps to a short meeting between Galdean and League of Nations leaders. Then, from there, there’s an abrupt time-skip with little exposition to act as an excuse for Nowa to become commander of the Watch, then eventually a whole rebellion. That means visiting countries around the world, diving into dungeons, recruiting over 100 allies, and taking part in turn-based standard and War Mode battles.

There’s this abrupt, perfunctory nature to certain things, though the storytelling does even out after you acquire your castle. There can be moments when recruiting certain allies that involve some fun situations or dialogue, with Francesca being the first standout example, but things don’t always flow well together. There’s sometimes not enough to it. I would have enjoyed more exposition at times, and I felt like there was an expectation that I should assume stronger bonds exist between people who just met. Plus the more I played, the more I felt the Seign and Marisa add-ons, which will eventually go into what they were doing during events, needed to be mandatory parts of the base experience. Perhaps it hit me harder due to playing every Suikoden game released worldwide before going into Eiyuden Chronicle, because then I have this memory of how well entries like Suikoden I, II, and Suikoden III establish themselves.

I felt like the pacing issues kept coming up in every facet of Eiyuden Chronicle, both intentionally and unintentionally, due to issues on the Switch. The menu lags, so the transition between tabs isn’t immediate, and it takes time for things to appear on the screen. The camera doesn’t move smoothly in some areas. Sometimes, it stuttered if I got into an awkward position due to landscaping, which came up as early as the forest outside the initial Rune Barrows on Nowa’s first mission. The movies that play when you first enter locations don’t do so smoothly. Worse, one might even cause Eiyuden Chronicle to crash on the Switch OLED. (Press and hold B to skip the scene if this happens to you! It happened to me in 1.0.2, but may be gone as of 1.0.3.) Battles can take longer than necessary, not because the enemies are any threat, but because of the load to get in and out of one, the number you face, their health, and the time it takes for everyone to carry out their attacks on the console. Not to mention the certain story segments — which I’d consider spoilers — that can feature the same awkward starts, stops, and distribution of information. 

The dungeon execution adds to this awkward pace, at least initially. Typically in JRPGs and past Suikoden games, the first one or two dungeons will be about 15-20 minutes long and feature boss fights that take 5-10 minutes. Eiyuden Chronicle doesn’t work like that. You can spend an hour or two even in early dungeons due to their design, the length of standard battles, Switch issues, and boss fights that end up dragged out due to enemy HP and the occasional need to be multiphase with a gimmick. Some of those gimmicks are genuinely cool, but I didn’t expect to be spending over 20 minutes on bosses when I was at a point when I’d just gotten started and they weren’t any threat to the party. At least most standard Rune-Lens abilities and character combos are tied to SP, which recharges during fights, and not MP. This means you can use them freely.

There are times when Eiyuden Chronicle can look amazing, due to character avatars and designs being on par with or surpassing the Suikoden series. That can be quickly ruined when actual environments look empty and even awful at times. Though again, parts of this could be an issue exclusive to the Switch version of the game. The overworld maps can be overly large and barren, with unintentional texture and foliage pop outs and pop ins. This is the first time in a game where if I moved closer, things like trees and grass might disappear, rather than appear. The field of vision blur is so strong on the Switch that characters who are just a step or two behind you in some towns or forts could look totally fuzzy, even though they are nearby and shouldn’t. (It gave me a headache sometimes, to be honest.)

I feel some small towns are larger than they needed to be, which would be fine if there were places to enter or folks worth interacting with, but there often aren’t. Not to mention that some of the dungeon areas aren’t as well constructed as others and have textures that look dated and unappealing on this system. So you’ll have characters that look great, set against places that… don’t. Not to mention, War Mode is just ugly on the system. The overview section, which is when you move units, featuring terrible textures and character portraits. Once you get into those battles, they move slowly, have models that just don’t look right, and end up being generally unappealing on a Switch. 

Another thing that bothered me about some of the design and story direction was that I felt like Rabbit and Bear borrowed from past Suikoden games for Eiyuden Chronicle, and it seemed unnecessary. I don’t want to spoil characters or situations, but I feel it taps into Suikoden II a bit. (Suikoden II is amazing, by the way, and probably the best entry in that series.) Nowa, Seign, and Lian are very clearly based on Riou, Jowy, and Nanami. Dux Aldric gave me serious Luca Blight vibes. An early plot point involves a moment at a village that mirrors the Ryube Village incident with the Highland Army. There is even an expy of a member of Viktor’s mercenaries who bears the same name as the other character. Considering the mainline Suikoden series managed to go for five entries without reusing plot beats or character designs, I was a bit disappointed as a fan to see a little repetition in Eiyuden Chronicle.

These are other Switch issues to keep in mind before picking up this version as well! In 1.0.1 and 1.0.2, the opening segment that offered an overview of a town and one bird attacking the other featured no music when I first played it. I consulted with others, and they heard the audio on other platforms. The frame rate is also bad and will fall below 30 fps. (At least, it does in handheld mode.) Someone I know playing the PC version didn’t experience the same sort of lag and loading issues when visiting a shop, opening the main menu, tabbing through menu screens, visiting locations, exploring, and battling as I did on the Switch or Switch OLED. So again, the problems are potentially limited to one console.

There’s more. During some story segments, characters’ sprites may be backward and not facing the folks they are talking to. That Aunt Martha screenshot I shared above is a good example. It’s very weird to have a serious moment when Nowa, Seign, Garr, and Lian are supposed to be talking, and Nowa’s back is to everyone. Sometimes, pressing the button to take an Eiyuden Chronicle screenshot on the Switch OLED will prompt an error saying that it isn’t possible, even if you took one a few seconds before. Whenever I’d get a new mission in Eltisweiss early on, the direction indicator arrow would suggest I needed to head to a certain noble’s house in town, even though the next stop would be another dungeon or village. After taking part in any beigoma battle, the Nowa running loading icon would remain on-screen for a bit and there’d be odd pop-ins for a while, as though the Switch version of Eiyuden Chronicle was going, “Oh, crap, I’m supposed to be back to the story already?” 

The tragedy is that I think there’s potentially a good game here! The character recruitment is fun and varied, with a number of different means of finding and collecting new folks for your castle. (I do wish there was an in-game tracker for their occasional requests, as I had to take screenshots so I wouldn’t forget what I needed to do for them.) There’s even an effort to include people outside the main cast during some event scenes, with some occasionally chiming in with a generic line. While I felt the turn-based battles on the Switch dragged on, the concept behind them is solid. A lot of the ideas are great, but the execution for them can either feel a bit outdated or held back by cosmetic and gameplay issues related to this port.

My entire Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes Switch experience is tarnished due to the frustrating issues I faced getting it to run on the OLED model, loading and texture problems, persistent lag, and the occasional crash. Many of these were happening up to the 1.03 patch released ahead of launch. I imagine it might be fine on PC. On this console, it’s a mess. The Switch version of Eiyuden Chronicle should have been delayed in favor of more rounds of Q&A testing, and I’m not sure even die-hard Suikoden fans will be able to overlook its issues at launch.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes will come to the Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC via Epic Games Store, GOG, and Steam on April 23, 2024.

5
Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes

Eiyuden Chronicles: Hundred Heroes is designed to bring players a modern take on a classic JRPG experience. Get ready to lead 100+ playable characters through a war-torn world only you can save. Switch version reviewed. Review copy provided by company for testing purposes.

On a PC, I imagine Eiyuden Chronicle might generally be fine, but on the Switch it is a mess.


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Author
Jenni Lada
Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.