Why Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is perfect for any JRPG player

A JRPG that anyone can enjoy!

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Scenario writer and head of Rabbit & Bear Studios, Yoshitaka Murayama is a well-beloved figure among JRPG fans. His previous work, the Suikoden series is considered to be absolute classics in the genre. I wasn’t able to play them myself, but the near universal acclaim was enough to make me excited to check this new game out. Unfortunately, Murayama passed before he could see it released. As a newcomer, I was curious to see if Eiyuden Chronicle lives up to the legacy of its spiritual predecessors and the creator himself. I’m happy to report that the game does exactly that. From gameplay to presentation, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes honors what came before while doing just the right number of refinements for it to take its place in the modern JRPG space.

When it comes to these types of games, the common fear for newcomers is that it might be too complicated, slow, or, to a certain extent, boring. This is considering the fact that a lot of AAA releases focus on providing immediate player feedback. JRPGs take their sweet time in that regard. You have to think about every step you make, what your party composition looks like, what to do with each turn in battle, etc. It’s a genre that made a name for itself for letting the player discover things on their own without much handholding.

However, modern JRPGs would also sometimes fall into the trap of trying to appeal to a different audience. One that prefers more direction. This is where veterans of the genre feel left out. Rabbit & Bear Studios manages to address both perspectives by providing one of the most approachable yet highly in-depth games I’ve played this year. It also helps that the game is extremely fun and charming to play around in. This is why you should give Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes a well-deserved look.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is a classic JRPG experience for the modern age

Time and time again, pixel art continues to prove that it is an aesthetic that refuses to die down. Eiyuden Chronicle combines beautiful 2D hand-drawn characters with colorful 3D environments. There was not a single point in time where it felt boring to look at. Every frame, every moment, every step of the way, Eiyuden Chronicle looked gorgeous.

Animations are all distinct, giving so much life to each character. The game touts that it has 100 playable heroes which may cause a concern for some not getting enough spotlight, but I assure you, dozens of hours into the game and I still enjoy welcoming new people into my party while also valuing the relationships I’ve already made. That’s because one of the writing’s primary goals is to set up each person you meet with a highly distinct personality trait to cling onto. The voice acting is great form both the Japanese and English cast. Very expressive and animated in the best way possible.

The beginning of the game, where it prompts you to recruit your first set of companions is a perfect example of this. You’ll meet a strong and honorable hunter, a brash and outgoing rogue, a highly energetic caster, and a soft-spoken healer with an extremely short fuse against people she doesn’t like, just to name a few. The way Murayama presents his characters are done in a way that will stick with you. I found myself constantly motivated to push through because of the excitement to see how my characters would interact in the next story beat or who else will I meet along the way.

A world worth exploring

The world of Eiyuden Chronicle continues to expand in more ways than you would expect. Both from a narrative and gameplay perspective.

Exploration is constantly incentivized. Going off the beaten path or seeing that one dead end on the map would always lead to a chest or a valuable resource to pick up. A lot of these go a long way in upgrading your character’s equipment and purchasing items that can mean the difference between winning a combat encounter or restarting a checkpoint.

It’s also worth noting that this is a random encounter game. I know what some of you are thinking, that system actively prevents people from exploring because of the monotony of going through another combat sequence. There are a few games that do go overboard on this, but this is also another factor in which Eiyuden Chronicle is a step above the rest. The frequency of random encounters is not as aggressive as you would think.

There is a decent enough space in between fights that allow you to explore areas much more freely. Not only does this motivate the player to be a bit looser in going through the different levels, but it also makes combat encounters a bit more significant rather than just yet another thing to do every couple of seconds.

Speaking of combat, it’s fantastic! It’s your standard turn-based system but what stands out about it is in how it is all presented. The camera movement is dynamic, following around characters with each move they make. It’s not just a static frame that you see. It’s subtle but adds so much more energy into the combat.

Boss encounters are also some of the absolute highlights you’ll have. Each of them has “gimmicks” where a special system will be introduced such as taking cover or activating a certain item in the area to deal massive damage. You’ll be needing these systems because the boss fights are no joke. They all have massive pools of health while also dealing incredible amount of damage. Always a great encounter whenever they pop up True tests of your understanding of the turns and party composition.

Later on in the story, a few more gameplay elements are introduced such as town development where you can make use of all the resources you’ve been picking up at this point. You can unlock new stores and minigames and even assign specific allies to an area for added benefits such as more storage space (which you’ll soon find out is a real game changer).

Then there is the war mode. Think of it like an entry level Total War game experience. You get to set up a battle and see it all play out with all your recruited units coming together. You also have to take into account the rage and morale meter which adds another layer to the strategy. It helps dictate where you need to shift your focus to and provides a nice sense of direction. It’s a completely different gameplay muscle from what you have been used to in the first couple of hours but a welcome change of pace to keep things fresh in the late game experience.

As someone who didn’t get to experience the Suikoden games, I can see why they’re so well regarded in the JRPG space just because of the experience that I have with Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. It’s a phenomenal game that constantly throws things at you with the intention of keeping things interesting rather than bloating the system up for artificial padding. The game feels like a love letter to the genre and the legacy of the studio and its creator. An absolute lovely time to be had and one that is well-worth the attention.