Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes – Review
Follow Genre: JRPG
Developer: Rabbit & Bear Studios
Publisher: 505 Games
Platform: Switch, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Tested on: PC

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes – Review

Site Score
9.2
Good: Amazing audiovisual presentation
Bad: Boss battles can get tediously long
User Score
10.0
(1 votes)
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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

When we reviewed Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, way back in 2022, we noted that that game was only an appetizer for the “main” Eiyuden Chronicle game, which had been in development since 2020, but had suffered several delays. At that time of writing, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes was supposed to launch in early 2023, but it was then hit with yet another delay. To say that backers of the Eiyuden Chronicle Kickstarter have needed to be patient is a bit of an understatement, but Hundred Heroes is finally here now. As we said in our Rising review, we couldn’t wait to return to Eiyuden Chronicle’s world, but now that it’s here, was it worth the wait?

Story

If there’s anything that the Avengers films have taught us, it’s that cramming too many heroes in a single story can result in a convoluted mess. Fortunately, developer Rabbit & Bear Studios went for a sensible approach instead. While Hundred Heroes does indeed feature a cast numbering one hundred heroes, the story really focuses on three of them, while the others take on a more supporting role, appearing as playable party members instead. This inevitably does mean that some of the non-protagonist heroes feature more prominently in the story than others, but there are still plenty of memorable moments with the game’s third or even fourth-grade cast. Even so, the overarching narrative can’t be summed up in three or four sentences, so bear with us as we try to summarize the plot without venturing into spoiler territory too much.

The main story follows Nowa, a young mercenary. When we meet him, he’s about to join the Watch, a band of mercenaries in service of her Ladyship. Nowa and a handful of Watch members are recruited by Seign, a high-ranking officer of the Empire, to aid in an expedition to recover a powerful rune-lens from ancient ruins. In the world of Eiyuden Chronicle, rune-lenses are ancient artifacts that can be used to perform quasi-magical feats using a tool called a regule. However, the specific rune-lens that Seign is after is immensely more powerful than any other rune-lens. Nowa and his friends manage to successfully find and recover the so-called Primal Lens for the Empire. We fast forward six months and end up in a layer of political intrigue, as we next see a scene where various ruling bodies discuss the fragile peace between them. It’s here that we learn that Count Grum has handed the Primal Lens to Dux Aldric for research, much to the dismay and distrust of his daughter Perielle Grum. It’s an exposition-filled scene that sets up the true natures of Aldric and Perielle and the importance of the Primal Lens. It also kickstarts Nowa’s adventure in earnest as it is up to him and his friends in the Watch to -you guessed it- save the world.

Graphics

We reviewed Rising on the Switch, and while we were fans of that game’s aesthetics, we did have a minor complaint: Rising’s visuals were slightly blurry. Fortunately, this isn’t the case with Hundred Heroes, or at least not in the PC version. This is a gorgeous-looking game that seamlessly blends highly detailed pixel sprites with lush 3D environments. We’ve sung the praises of the so-called 2D HD art style that Square Enix utilized in titles like Triangle Strategy and Live A Live, but those games’ visuals pale in comparison to those of Hundred Heroes. Granted, the game’s framerate couldn’t always keep up with 60 FPS enabled, especially when the camera panned across detailed environments, but you can adjust visual settings if you favor performance instead.

Sound

As if the visuals didn’t impress us enough already, Hundred Heroes takes things up another notch with its audio. The game boasts a fantastic soundtrack, courtesy of renowned composer Motoi Sakuraba, whose work you may already know from Dark Souls and the Tales series. The game is also almost completely voiced, and even though the main voice cast doesn’t necessarily boast big names, we found that the performances were fantastic across the board.

Gameplay

Although Hundred Heroes doesn’t bring anything particularly new to the table in terms of gameplay, what the game does serve up is one of the most polished and streamlined takes on old-school JRPGs that we’ve seen in recent years. Taking control of Nowa, you explore the vast world around you as you play through Hundred Heroes’ story. There are plenty of side stories and quests to take on, dungeons to explore, and even mini-games to partake in. You assemble your party out of the recruited heroes, and although the story does force specific party members at certain points, you can still create a party that has plenty of synergy and fits your playstyle for most of the game. The best part though, is that Hundred Heroes never feels overwhelming or forces complicated systems and mechanics on you, without feeling the need to oversimplify things either.

This is something that becomes clear early on with the game’s combat mechanics. Here you take control of up to nine characters in a party. You determine their positions beforehand, and this affects their performance: Melee characters should go in the front rank, and support characters in the back, of course. Each character has access to the expected basic and special moves, as well as the option to use items or defend themselves. However, where things get interesting is the way you can create synergies between various characters, either through stacking special moves or by utilizing so-called Hero Combos. Hero Combos are special moves that see heroes team up to deliver devastating amounts of damage. Special moves typically consume SP or MP, preventing you from spamming them, and so knowing when to use them can really turn a battle around. The game also uses a fast-paced auto-combat system, which comes in handy if you don’t feel like grinding for experience points, but this is entirely optional. When you’re still familiarizing yourself with each character’s special moves, it’s often a good idea to fight basic monsters yourself.

You can absolutely use the auto-battle feature in boss battles as well, although this isn’t a good idea as each of these introduces a unique gimmick literally known as… Gimmick. These include being able to avoid taking damage from a boss by hiding behind debris, or magical girl character Mellore’s Grimoires, which give you a 50% chance of dealing a huge blow to an enemy boss at the expense of dedicating a single character’s action to the Gimmick for that turn. As far as we experienced, Gimmicks weren’t used in auto-battles, so we stuck to manually facing off against bosses. One gripe we did have with the boss battles was that there was no way to see how much HP the boss had left, and with these fights often taking over 15 minutes to complete, they did grow tiresome sometimes, especially when it took multiple attempts to beat a boss.

The boss battles are the only thing that slows down the pacing of Hundred Heroes. Even though this is a multi-dozen-hour behemoth, time flew by as we progressed through the wealth of stories and the multitude of likable character moments. The game continuously throws surprises at you, preventing a feeling of repetitiveness or staleness from setting in, something that Square Enix’s recent offerings have been guilty of. We feel like we haven’t even scratched the surface of what the game has to offer: there’s a town-building system, for example, where any recruited Heroes that aren’t in your battle party can still contribute, motivating you to go out of your way to recruit ’em all. Hundred Heroes isn’t a cheap game, coming in at €49.99 for the base game or €79.99 for the digital deluxe edition, but we’d say the game is worth every penny. This is 2024’s freshest JRPG so far. It combines gorgeous visuals, immersive sound, and fantastic stories with a back-to-basics gameplay approach resulting in a genuinely fun love letter to the JRPGs of yesteryear.

Conclusion

Given how good of a primer Rising was, we were expecting big things for Hundred Heroes. Rabbit & Bear Studios didn’t just deliver though: they exceeded our expectations in every way. This is a game that perfectly understands what made the JRPGs of yesteryear so beloved in the first place, and it brings them into the modern era without tacking on unnecessary or convoluted mechanics. Boss battles can get a little tedious and there was the occasional frame drop, but these are the only gripes we had with what is otherwise our top contender for JRPG of the year.

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Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
SebastiaanRaats


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