Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising Review
Chores: The RPG
Everybody, everywhere, knows the value of chores. They always need to get done, and they often feel never-ending. This is why Natsume-Atari’s Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is such a conflicting game. While it’s advertised as being an action RPG, the majority of the game is all about fulfilling all the chores that its world’s people have little to no interest in doing. While the game is adequate in nearly everything it does, Rising feels much more like a chore simulator and ultimately is just as engaging as doing them in real life.
Rising takes place in the rundown and remote village of New Nevaeh, where players take on the role of fifteen-year-old CJ. CJ is a young treasure hunter, ready to explore the region, until she is stopped by the village’s acting mayor Isha, who explains that in order to obtain a treasure hunting license, CJ must fulfill the tasks handed out by the villagers to show her loyalty and helpfulness. Along the way, she meets Garoo, a kangaroo, who offers his assistance in search of royalties. CJ learns from Isha about the Rune Barrows, an area below the town that offers riches beyond belief. Isha joins the party after learning there may be something sinister lurking in the shadows.
The storytelling in Rising will not win any awards. In fact, it has very little substance. While the localization makes many of the characters quite personable, it’s hard to feel attached to any of them because the game itself doesn’t have a narrative hook to keep players invested. Its hook is to do chores, get stamps, lather, rinse, and repeat. While collecting stamps from the villagers has an initially addictive quality, this soon wears off due to the game’s poor pacing and repetitive gameplay. While there is some variety in the chores, including finding items, helping residents make friends, or assisting shops in their growth, none of the rewards from completing tasks feel impactful.
Rebuilding the village of New Nevaeh is a core gameplay component in Rising, and while it’s serviceable, it’s not interesting. CJ is given tasks by specific shop owners for key items to improve their shops. With each store upgrade, CJ and her party can enhance their gear to new ranks. While players will get a delightful animation for completing a building upgrade, this element still feels quite shallow, as though it’s missing something to make it stand out compared to other titles that offer town-building.
The gameplay loop in Rising is repetitive in a way that makes the game dull. Players will constantly be revisiting the same handful of areas to complete requests for the villagers, and often the rewards are experience points, some pocket change, and a stamp. While there are tons of sidequests in Rising, they often feel mandatory given that they are the only way outside of battling enemies to get experience points. It’s very easy to blitz through the game’s same six dungeons, only to then be under-leveled because you ignored the laundry list of chores in town.
Dungeons in Rising are short romps, though they also get stale quickly with the game’s mandatory backtracking. There is so much retreading of ground, and often not a lot has changed in the world. While the art direction in each dungeon is absolutely stunning, the areas often feel very empty and too straightforward to explore. There isn’t a lot of deviation in either design or quest structure, which has players constantly going back and forth between areas but without anything new or exciting to find.
Combat is one of the few areas where the game performs well, but again not by much. As characters move across each area, they hack ‘n’ slash their way through enemies. Killing enemies nets raw materials used to complete requests. Players can cycle through each of the three playable characters on the fly, or if they time a button press just right, can create a chain link of attacks for bigger damage. Additional link attacks are only granted, however, if players complete their stamp cards. Each character also has a unique skill mapped to the ZR button, such as CJ’s ability to dash through enemies. With everything mapped to the different face buttons, combat is average but lacks any depth to make it engaging.
Where Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising shines is in its visual presentation. The 2.5D environments, though simple, look gorgeous. Everything visually has a cool retro feel, from the hand-drawn character artwork to the background art which has such colourful prowess. While the areas lack interesting content in them, it’s hard to deny how beautiful the world of Rising is. Even the character models all have vibrant personalities in their design, and it helps make the world feel inviting. It’s just a shame that for such a beautiful game the characters and world feel so hollow.
Alongside Rising stunning visuals, the game’s soundtrack is very enjoyable as well. There is a coziness to a lot of the tracks throughout the game and they pair well with what is occurring on-screen at the moment. A lot of the music is very uplifting, there’s a sense of wanderlust that fits the remoteness of New Nevaeh and its surrounding areas. It’s pleasant to listen to as an accompaniment to the journey.
I wanted to love Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, and though Hundred Heroes is a different title entirely, I’d be lying if I didn’t say Rising has dampened my expectations for it a bit. Rising takes players to averagetown, population snoozefest and it doesn’t ever get exciting, even after its twenty-hour completion time. While it offers players a beautiful presentation and some ear candy tunes, these elements cannot help elevate Rising as being any more than a fetch-quest-heavy experience with little to no payoff. If I wanted to play Chores: The RPG, I’d just clean my house, because doing that offers considerably more tangible benefits than playing this game to completion did.
Disclosure: This review is based on a free copy of the game provided by the publisher.
... that lacks depth
Fetch quests galore with no real reward
Average in every way, shape and form