There are times when Kickstarter projects will involve “bonus games” as stretch goals. For example, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night’s crowdfunding campaign led to Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is that for Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. However, while the Inti Creates bonus game is a compelling and rich title in its own right, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is “just okay” and feels like a clunky collection of fetch quests.
CJ is a Scavenger. A tradition in her family is to go on a journey when they come of age. She’s searching for a Rune Lens bigger than her father’s to prove herself. This trek leads her to New Neveah, a town that had Rune Barrows discovered beneath it. This attracted adventurers in search of treasure to the area, like Garoo. However, something else is going on. Earthquakes decimated the area upon the discovery. Also, the town’s mayor disappeared, with his daughter Isha working as acting mayor and trying to rebuild the town and help its citizens. In order to complete her task, CJ will also need to take the townspeople’s requests, which will in turn rebuild New Neveah, and head into the Rune Barrows to find her treasure and solve the area’s mysteries.
This means that players send the trio into environments, beating up enemies with combos along the way. The issue is that there are other games that handle this sort of system so well. Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is one of them. There isn’t that same fluidity and natural progression to these continued attacks. It ranges from passable to fine, rather than consistently satisfying. Of course, part of this could be due to the way characters work and are added.
You start out Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising with CJ. She’s a quick character with a short-range attack. She only hits directly in front of her. However, her special move lets her quickly dash forward, and later eventually in mid-air. Once Garoo joins your party after a substantial amount of time, you get a slower character with a longer reach that goes in an arch that can hit above him and a parry special move. It also means you unlock the Link Attack that lets you swap between the two for a combo with greater reach and more damage. Filling up the first Stamp Card increases the Link Attack combo by one.
But I didn’t feel like things really started to click until Isha joins the party. This happens many, many hours into the game. (So many that I started to wonder if she was the first Stamp Card reward.) She’s the only ranged unit of the three, with homing spells that lock in on opponents when you’re close enough. Which means then you can start getting tactical by using her spell to hit a distant enemy, then trigger the Link Attack to let CJ or Garoo dash close and deal more damage.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising also wastes no time in getting tedious. There is town-building here. But most of the game relies on getting a quest that involves heading into one of two dungeons to defeat certain foes or collect certain items. After which you heading back to the hub to claim a stamp, progress the story, and do it all over again. Due to the pacing, you’ll spend hours in the same parts of the Great Forest and Quarry before finally getting Rune Barrows access to a handful of new spaces. Since the a lot of the enemies are palette-swaps and getting certain items for new quests means buying better versions of tools and retreading the same spaces, it starts feeling bland.
Especially since there are some light Metroidvania elements. You’ll find elemental pillars blocking your progress in areas like the Great Forest and Quarry. You can’t get past them unless you get a Rune Lens element, equip the element that matches it, and go back to attack it. Which means if you want to 100% a map, you’ll need to get all the elements and go spelunking again. Though getting elements is required to progress the story, you’ll at least already eventually get things like the earth rune.
As for the appearance, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising manages to look both interesting and cheap at the same time. The character designs and environments are good! There are some novel ideas. I liked the look of the 3D environments. Except the characters and enemies are all essentially 2D, rigged puppets that look like they were pulled from a mobile game. There are games that handle the juxtaposition of 2D and 3D well. That isn’t always the case here.
I get the feeling that unless someone is extremely invested in Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, they won’t get anything out of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising. The background it offers for characters like CJ, Garoo, and Isha and the series’ world is great! It’s pretty valuable, in terms of lore and establishing a mood. But the actual experience is average and takes a while to get interesting. It never really hooked me. Rather, it made me want to go back to other games that did it better.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is available for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC.