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Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes Preview Impressions

A screenshot of the party in front of a door with lights in Eiyuden Chronicle Hundred Heroes

I played Suikoden II in 1999, an impactful experience that shaped my thoughts and expectations regarding the RPG genre. It was the second RPG I ever played to completion. I became so enamored with multiple facets of the game that the entire Suikoden series became dear to my heart, representing just how powerful video game storytelling mediums can be. I still recommend Suikoden to anyone who listens to my awkward, rambling, and gushing praise. With a heavy heart, I learned of series creator Yoshitaka Murayama’s passing in 2024, and an odd reflective feeling settled over me as I sat down to play the preview for his final game, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. After all, Suikoden is a series that is beloved by me and many other RPGFans. Will Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes live up to the storied reputations of the games it’s a spiritual successor to? My time with the preview was brief, but it left me impressed and hopeful for future adventures.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is a Suikoden title in everything but name. Those familiar with the Suikoden games can instantly piece together the similar facets of Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. For instance, rune-lenses replace runes as the source of magic and unique abilities in this story universe. You can strengthen a character’s unique weapon by visiting blacksmiths in town, you can recruit a plethora of diverse and colorful characters to your cause, combat is turn-based with up to six active battle party slots, unite attacks exist in the form of hero combos, and there are items that you can get appraised at specialized shops. While Eiyuden Chronicle takes cues from several of Suikoden‘s gameplay elements, it often presents them with more polish, meaning that fans of Suikoden will pick up the controls quickly. At the same time, potential newcomers can discover a substantial assortment of tried-and-true tested mechanics.

Another facet of Eiyuden Chronicle with major consequences for Suikoden fans is obviously the story. I do not feel comfortable discussing much of it based on this preview, as I believe it should be for individual players to experience. However, I do feel the narrative inklings on display in the preview are charming and have the potential to impress. Suikoden fans like myself are not likely to be disappointed with the plot or characters based on the preview build of Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes.

Nowa and Seign have a heart-to-heart conversation by a fire in Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes.
Scenes such as this help paint a picture of the story and its characters.

At the beginning of the preview, you progress through a couple early story dungeons, which shows what to expect regarding dungeons and battles. One of the dungeons you explore features a sight memory puzzle to gain further entry into its depths, illustrating that potentially not all of the dungeons you explore are long stretches of fights and hostile terrain without any breaks. You get into random battles rather frequently on the world map and in dungeons, offering quick insight into combat mechanics. If you opt for manual fighting control as I did, your party and their enemies take turns. When it is time for you to decide on a given character’s action, you can opt for either a basic attack or a special move granted by rune-lenses, provided you have enough MP or SP. Some characters may develop a combination attack called a hero combo with another character, making a solid addition to their repertoires. MP must be replenished through rest or items, while SP builds up over time during a fight. Most early battles rely on regular attacks and strategic healing when necessary. However, getting to wail on more vigorous opponents with special moves in the dungeons is satisfying.

As in Suikoden, you must consider the positioning of party characters in Eiyuden Chronicle. Some characters can deal damage from the front and back rows, but a few fighters can only attack from the front. Putting a squishy healer character in the front row isn’t the best survival strategy. Fights occur readily by taking a few steps on the world map or in a dungeon, which those not keen on level grinding might view as an annoyance. Still, exploration fighting helped keep my party adequately leveled for boss battles and supplied me with the necessary funds to upgrade armor and strengthen weapons. For those who want to speed through fights, there are some quick auto-battle options to experiment with. I prefer manual control over my party, but I give the game credit for having alternatives for those who don’t feel the same.

A boss fight is about to commence in Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes.
When bosses show up, be on the lookout for gimmicks!

In terms of combat, the only thing that isn’t reminiscent of Suikoden is the inclusion of a boss fight mechanic known as a gimmick: a unique gameplay component added to boss battles so that they stand out from the random encounters preceding them. One boss battle required strategically hiding certain characters behind debris before the boss unleashed a devastating special attack. At the same time, another gambled on a fifty-fifty chance of potentially landing an extra decisive move of your own against the opponent. When handled correctly, I can see the inherent tactical potential of gimmicks, though the second example I mentioned was frustrating due to its intrinsic randomness.

Despite the preview providing a tiny sliver of time with Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, it allowed me to dive into a familiar process that most Suikoden fans are probably excited about: character recruiting! As in the Suikoden series, some party members are recruited simply by following the main story. However, you can recruit many optional characters depending on your actions throughout the game. Once I was free to explore, I sought out every possible nook and cranny of the world map and locales open to me, looking for party members to bolster my forces.

These characters are often memorable and downright quirky, and it’s a blast figuring out the necessary steps to befriend them. Because there is such a limited number of characters for the battle party and support alongside a huge roster of potential recruits, you do have to commit to a primary group early on. In the preview alone, I had to select which of the optional party members to keep for battle because I already recruited so many of them with story-required characters to also consider. There are many choices with limited space to utilize them, which is a frequent downside to the large cast of Suikoden as well. I do like that the optional characters show up in story scenes for side quests (so you’re reminded of their presence), but thought it was strange that the story-required characters seemed to disappear from them.

Yusuke is recruited by Nowa in Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes.
Yusuke is one of many vibrant recruitable characters in the preview.

While it helpfully notes main story quests, I wish that Eiyuden Chronicle had a record to keep track of the various side quests you’re partaking in. Something like a potential recruit’s request for a certain number of specific monster kills is information you have to keep in the back of your head or write down so you don’t forget and miss opportunities. Given the many optional actions you can undertake, having a side quest log would be most welcome. If you’re genuinely interested in recruiting everyone, be prepared to be thorough and backtrack. Certain scenes or events only open up after advancing in a different quest or area.

Visually, Eiyuden Chronicles: Hundred Heroes is a stunning game utilizing 2D and 3D graphical elements to significant effect. The graphics are bright and colorful and pop off the screen. I played the preview build on a Steam Deck initially set for 60 FPS, but there was noticeable visual stuttering. I switched to the less taxing 30 FPS and didn’t notice much difference graphically other than the stuttering disappearing. Truthfully, the game is beautiful in either setting. I love the expressive portraits used for notable characters, and the UI is crisp and easy to follow.

I like that there is ambient conversation in the various areas you traverse, as it showcases more of the characters’ interactions and personalities. Even the optional recruitable characters will have things to say. However, it’s important to note that the text for these conversation snippets is small and is not voice-acted so you need to focus on the bottom of the screen to avoid missing it. While you can rotate the camera on the world map, it’s fixed in towns and dungeons. Thanks to this, certain angles in dungeons have their views blocked, which is a minor hindrance because you can’t tell if you’re missing something hidden from sight.

You can have an active battle party of up to six characters in Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes.
The visuals are a sight to behold.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred HeroesĀ has the option for either English- or Japanese-voiced dialogue. I chose the English dialogue and was pleasantly surprised at the overall quality of the voice acting. I also want to praise the music pieces I heard from the game’s soundtrack thus far. I am fond of select tracks from theĀ SuikodenĀ series, but there’s phenomenal potential for the overall soundscape inĀ Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. I adore composer Michiko Naruke‘s work on theĀ Wild ARMsĀ soundtracks, and she’s clearly in top form with her work inĀ Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, alongside the acclaimed composer Motoi Sakuraba, even in the game’s earliest stages. I didn’t mind getting into as many random battles as I did since the combat music is so good!

My biggest issue with the preview for Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is that it only scratches the surface of a game I want to play much more of. Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes reminds me of Suikoden in some of the best ways, and this vignette in its beginning stage only intensifies that sentiment. This game could be a more than worthy spiritual successor to that beloved series, and it’s evident that a lot of care has gone into crafting it. Rabbit & Bear Studios could have a modern classic in the works here! I’m now looking forward more intensely to the complete Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes experience when it gets released on April 23rd, 2024.

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Audra Bowling

Audra Bowling

Audra Bowling is a reviewer for RPGFan. She is a lover of RPGs, Visual Novels, and Fighting Games. Once she gets onto a subject she truly feels strongly about, like her favorite games, she can ramble on and on endlessly. Coffee helps keep her world going round.

1 Response to Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes Preview Impressions

KNN005
KNN005

As much as I hate extra gimmicks during boss battles, it's way better than the BS of always having to break a stance to do serious damage. Bosses and regular foes never have to do that to you. But tons of games force you to do chip damage, until you finally break a stance. And I don't know any game where stance breaking is fast, fun and easy.

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