Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes Becomes Superb Spiritual Successor to Suikoden

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes
Reviewed On
Steam (PC)
Available For

The Suikoden series was special to many due to its familiar gameplay but with a few unique twists, such as having access to an actual army’s worth of characters. For some reason, publisher Konami saw fit to simply shelve the series, leaving it without a new entry for well over a decade, nearly two if you don’t count spin-off titles. The original creator of Suikoden, Yoshitaka Murayama, along with several other developers who worked on the Suikoden games over the years, banded together to create a spiritual successor to Suikoden, called Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. Is Eiyuden Chronicle the successor that Suikoden fans dreamed of, or is this a successor that needs to be dethroned? Let’s find out.

The story of Eiyuden Chronicle focuses primarily on Nowa and his companions, who just joined a paramilitary organization under the purview of the League of Nations. The Galdean Empire, notably not a member of the League of Nations, discovers a technology that amplifies the powers from rune-lenses that grant magical power. The Galdean Empire and League of Nations work together to find an artifact called a Primal Lens for the purposes of study, but shortly thereafter a war breaks out that engulfs the entire continent of Allraan.

The plot of Eiyuden Chronicle is fantasy politics, but it should be immediately familiar to anyone who has experience with JRPGs. However, while games like Suikoden II back on the PSX thrust you into the life of a soldier, so you could see the horrors of war firsthand and become invested in the story, Eiyuden Chronicle is a much more upbeat adventure at the beginning as it tosses you almost immediately into hero collection. The story of this title is very back-loaded, doesn’t pick up until around the halfway point, and you’re going to be inundated with a wide variety of characters you will likely have difficulty connecting with because you’re bombarded with so many of them very early in the game.

In terms of how Eiyuden Chronicle plays, it’s very similar to other JRPGs. You control your party and venture through the overworld, dungeons, and more, and when a battle begins, you shift to a battle screen where your six fighters engage in turn-based combat with the enemy. You have both frontline and backline fighters in Eiyuden Chronicle, and each character has either a short, medium, or long attack range. If you put a character with a short range attack in the back row, they won’t even be able to fight. If you’ve played Suikoden, this should be very familiar. For the most part, fighters with short range attacks have to be in the front row to attack, fighters with long range attacks should be in the back and are generally on the squishier side, defensively, while fighters with medium range attacks can go in either row depending on your need, and you can attack the enemy’s backline when in the front row, for example.

You also have support characters who provide powerful passive bonuses to your party, which can be used both in and out of combat. Some may deal damage or give a buff to your group at the beginning of a battle, but another boosts your running speed outside of combat, for example. There’s a variety of these support abilities, ranging from the useful, situationally useful, and technically useless but novel nonetheless, such as the wallaby that changes the battle music randomly. Double running speed and double EXP gain were definitely some great uses of this slot, though there are others that you may find beneficial throughout Eiyuden Chronicle.

Of course, the largest draw of titles like Eiyuden Chronicle, that take inspiration from Suikoden, is that there’s a large roster of recruitable characters at your disposal. Eiyuden Chronicle has 120 different heroes for you to find throughout your journey, though the recruitment of a handful of them are still bugged and require workarounds if you’re aiming for 100% completion. Thankfully, many bugged recruitment quests have been fixed over the last couple of months, so this shouldn’t be an issue for anyone attempting to play it now. In any event, you’ll come across a wide variety of recruits, from roughly 70 or so battle-capable fighters, though some choose a supporting role such as running a shop, instead.

Due to the fact that at various points throughout the story you’ll need to use more than just your favorite party of team members, Eiyuden Chronicle has an experience scaling system that helps lower-level characters quickly catch up to the rest of their party. Catching up characters who were never, or rarely used, later on in the title could see them gain 10 or more levels in a single battle, for example, which means you shouldn’t be overly worried about needing to level grind to catch up fighters you haven’t used throughout Eiyuden Chronicle.

Generally speaking, after each major story event or boss battle, you’ll reach a moment of down time where you can go exploring and complete side quests. It’s during these moments that you’ll encounter various recruitable characters who can join your forces. Some may just need to speak to you about current events, and choose to take up your banner, while others may have more complicated recruitment paths where you need to do side quests like finding them a much-needed item, defeating particular enemies, increasing your town’s overall size, or defeating enough people in a card game to prove your superiority in the cardboard arts.

The town, itself, is something you unlock after the first acts of the story. You can develop the town in a pretty incredible way, as upon hitting landmarks such as overall population, characters recruited, facilities available, and more, you can level up the town itself which visually changes the town from a village near a ruined castle to a proper castle town. For example, setting up a stone quarry will give your townspeople access to stone and salt, the former of which is necessary for building other facilities in the town, while the latter is used for a variety of upgrades including the Kitchen, which provides the player with dishes that recover HP, boost your stats, or heal status ailments. There are a good number of other facilities and services available for you to use, so development of the town always feels rewarding and beneficial, even if you’re just enjoying the passive income it provides while you progress the story.

As far as character customization goes, each character has various equipment slots like you’d expect from a JRPG that’s taking inspiration from a PSX title, and various classes of characters can equip different armor and accessories. You can also improve the power of each character’s specific weapon at the blacksmith, and the single largest variable of customization is within the rune system. Each character has a set number of rune slots that unlock as they level, and specific runes you find throughout the game can go into those slots if they are of the correct size, indicated by 2-4 diamond-shaped pips on the character’s slots and on the runes, themselves. More powerful runes tend to have larger pips, and some characters may not have slots capable of using the larger, more powerful runes and instead have many smaller rune slots, instead.

The rune slot system lets you seriously customize your characters, because no matter the slot size or type, there’s going to be dozens of runes you can slot into your characters to improve the roles you’ve given them in combat. While this does mean that you can stack physical damage and warrior passives on a magic caster character, I generally found it easier to just focus on what a character was already good at, instead. Some characters, after leveling enough, will unlock unique runes that can’t be removed that give them some special passive or active skill that no one else can have, which can really change the usefulness of the characters.

Visually, Eiyuden Chronicle has a delightful aesthetic that combines beautifully animated 2D sprites with 3D rendered backgrounds and monsters. This makes combat look extremely dynamic, and very reminiscent of Suikoden, as you’ll have your six chosen heroes on your side facing off against a great variety of opponents. The soundtrack is fitting, and many of the tracks are solid enough to stick with the player after Eiyuden Chronicle has been turned off. There are many bright, adventurous tracks as you venture across Allraan, and the boss themes can be powerful and frantic.

That being said, Eiyuden Chronicle is a great title, especially once you get past the slow start and hit the strong points of the story. It will likely take a casual player around 40 to 50 hours to beat Eiyuden Chronicle, with around 80 to 90 hours to fully complete it. Thankfully, there were no game breaking bugs throughout my entire playthrough, though there were a few heroes that would have been missed had I not been aware of some broken recruitment lines ahead of time, but even had I missed those characters, I still would have been able to finish, just not 100% of it before writing this review.

If you enjoy slow burn JRPGs with a host of varying environments and differing peoples, my personal favorite being the shark people who live in the desert, then Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes may be for you. If you don’t like turn-based JRPGs then you’re going to be better served looking into some other title to keep you busy, as Eiyuden Chronicle channels a very specific type of Playstation-era nostalgia that resonates very well with longtime JRPG fans. 2024 is so completely stacked with JRPG goodness that it’s difficult to gauge which ones are worth your time and which aren’t. While Eiyuden Chronicle did have some issues with bugs at launch and the story should have been better paced, especially towards the first half of it, there’s definitely a lot here to enjoy if you’re a fan of JRPGs.

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