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Eiyuden Chronicle Hundred Heroes review - an overstuffed JRPG

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is an expansive yet deeply disjointed JRPG that arguably suffers from its own Kickstarter success.

the three heroes from eiyuden chronicle posing with weapons out

Our Verdict

Whether or not you’re a fan of Suikoden II, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is just about worth your time. Unfortunately, almost every high point in Nowa's adventure is met with a painful low, making for a disjointed experience bursting with forgettable minigames and characters.

Suikoden II reigns as perhaps the most underrated Japanese role-playing game ever made, overshadowed when it was released in 1998 by the genre’s shift to 3D models. It has gained a considerable cult following in the decades since, with many hailing it as a paragon of the genre. Color none of us JRPG fans surprised when Suikoden series creator Yoshitaka Murayama Kickstarted a spiritual successor that blew past its stretch goals, making Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes the third-highest-grossing videogame of all time on the crowdfunding platform.

As I want to critique Eiyuden Chronicle entirely on its own merit, let’s get how it compares to its legendary inspiration out of the way: there’s a pure Suikoden II core here diluted by an overabundance of shallow minigames and bloat. Those looking for a Suikoden II successor will, on the whole, be happy. For those coming to Eiyuden Chronicle with a fresh set of eyes, however, it’s not quite so straightforward.

The game’s narrative revolves around three heroes grappling with the nefarious Dux Aldric of the Galdean Empire. In the opening hours, I take control of a young man named Nowa as he reports for his first mission as a member of a haphazard force of mercenaries tasked with keeping monsters at bay. Setting off with a handful of new friends, I join forces with Seign, the second of the three heroes, as we delve deep into an ancient Runebarrow. There, we uncover a powerful artifact that sets into motion a 40-hour plot of betrayal and war.

dialogue when nowa meets seign in eiyuden chronicle hundred heroes

Eiyuden Chronicle is in some ways a victim of its Kickstarter success. It includes a staggering number of minigames due to the campaign hitting several stretch goals. You can build a fortress, learn a collectible card game, and even test your mettle with a Beyblade clone. While they’re optional, they’re also disappointingly shallow and unengaging, amounting to little more than an extra 10-20 hours of filler for completionists to sift through.

Combat-wise, Eiyuden Chronicle demands mastery over three diverse battle types: turn-based, war, and one-on-one duels. The turn-based fights see six selected heroes face off against foes, using items and casting magic. The rune-warped beasts I slay throughout the adventure aren’t visible on the map, as most encounters are random. Thankfully, battles trigger infrequently and yield high experience rewards, which erases the need to grind and the disappointment I feel from the empty overworld and dungeons. Yet despite their infrequency, I still take advantage of an auto-battle mechanic for almost every regular bout, as there’s little strategy required on the normal difficulty mode.

The dungeons themselves make up for this lack of challenge. They all feature a central puzzle that skillfully straddles the line between satisfying and frustrating. Clever and compact, each one concludes with difficult boss encounters that I can’t auto-battle my way through. A limitation on MP-restoring items hamstrings my ability to keep my six chosen heroes healthy in these bouts of attrition against forest-dwelling monstrosities and grotesque dragon creatures, leading to more than a few defeats that make each narrow victory feel well-earned.

turn based battle against cerebrus in eiyuden chronicle

Sadly, I cannot say the same for the large-scale war battles. The narrative revolves around Nowa and friends scrambling to build an army to stand against the Galdean might, and when these armies clash, I command a handful of legions on a grid-based map. None of them give me any trouble as they amount to using character-specific boosts at the right time. Worse still, they’re painfully boring as each clash between legions takes far too long to resolve.

The one-on-one duels, on the other hand, impress me. They occur at key moments, requiring me to attack or counter my opponent depending on their dialogue. If they seem aggressive, I must counter. If they seem pensive, I should attack. Eventually a ‘break’ gauge fills that triggers an awesome move that wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of Dragon Ball Z. Outside of boss encounters, I look forward to these climatic set pieces the most.

In the midst of all this is the quest to recruit the titular hundred heroes spread across the continent. I found about 80 before the credits rolled, though there’s actually far more than 100. Many join up as part of the story, but others require Nowa to perform a side-quest before they’ll tag along, ranging from the mundane (simply speak to them) to the obtuse (find a rare type of fish). Not all are battle-capable, with some providing party-wide support buffs in battle or simply unlocking a shop in the fortress-building minigame.

eiyuden chronicle heroes gathering at the alliance fortress

With so many heroes, most get little to no characterization outside of their appearance and a quirk pulled straight from a laundry bag of anime tropes. The main heroes and their closest pals don’t fare much better. It isn’t until about 30 hours in, right before a major showdown, that I learn of Nowa and Seign’s familial backstories and motivations. Further backstory is apparently squirred away for post-launch DLC, which leaves the main narrative feeling disjointed with little tension until the final act, which admittedly does then hit the right notes.

I can’t help but smile as allies reappear, enemies turn to friends, and the Big Bads tremble in the final few hours. A cheesy anime-style song plays at various climaxes, including after the epic final duel against the main villain that has me fist-pumping as the trio of heroes flip through the air while casting magical blasts and making grand statements about believing in their friends.

As the credits roll, I can’t deny that I enjoyed Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, yet I’m keenly aware every high was met with an unfortunate low. In the end, I’m left wondering if all that development time spent on stretch goals hampered the core of Nowa’s adventure, relegating it to being a decent JRPG rather than a legendary one like its inspiration.