Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes Review – Comforting Nostalgia

Recalling a classic era of RPGs.

Despite being a huge fan of RPGs out of Japan, Yoshitaka Murayama’s Suikoden is a blind spot in my knowledge of the legendary genre. It’s a series I’ve always had a passing interest in, but has been kept just out of arms reach as the inexorable marching of time continues. Suikoden’s hardcore fans won’t let it be forgotten, though, funding a Kickstarter campaign for a spiritual sequel to Suikoden within hours of its launch.

Spearheaded by Murayama himself, the Eiyuden Chronicle project kicked off with 2022’s Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, a prologue to the events of the main attraction – Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. Hundred Heroes is Suikoden in all but name. Its uncompromisingly old-school design can sometimes feel antiquated and obtuse, but ultimately makes for a nostalgically-classic RPG that exudes charm and a love for the genre.

eiyuden chronicle hundred heroes review

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is set on the continent of Allraan, a rich melting pot of nations and diverse cultures, each holding unique values and traditions that set their peoples apart. The many races of Allraan form a complex array of alliances and rivalries, fueled by war and the powerful nature of magical objects known as Rune-Lenses. It’s within this setting that the Galdean Empire has found a way to amplify the power of Rune-Lenses, alongside the discovery of a powerful artifact that will bolster their strength further.

The cheapest shipped copy is at Amazon for $64 with free Prime shipping.

This setup is ultimately what unites our core three heroes – Nowa, Seign, and Marisa. While much of the early focus is on Nowa and Seign, Marisa quickly joins afterwards to complete the trio, their fates entwined as a result of the machinations of the Galdean Empire. It’s a narrative that treads familiar ground with some predictable twists, but it’s the way that characters are developed through conflict and the happenings of Allraan that makes Hundred Heroes engaging when it comes to narrative.

eiyuden chronicle hundred heroes review

As you recruit new members to an army built to fight back against the Galdean Empire, the range of perspectives and opinions also increases. It’s fascinating to see how the different nations of Allraan react to the prospect of war. Where the shark-like Shi’Arcs of Impershi’arc are itching to stick it to the Empire’s malicious advances, the kingdom of Euchrisse is less eager to fight what seems to be a losing battle. It creates a distinct array of situations that the Liberation Army has to contend with in order to build up their forces as much as possible.

These conflicts are best explored through the perspectives of Nowa, Seign, and Marisa. Despite each of them having vastly different outlooks on the coming conflict and what it means to be at war with the Empire, each wants the same thing. Seign is a particular highlight, whose struggle forces him to reconsider where his loyalties lie. There are some really excellent moments that come from this, particularly revolving around his family, but it would be a shame to spoil them here.

eiyuden chronicle hundred heroes review

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes’s approach to story and characters is also adopted in how it handles gameplay. Its combat is a robust turn-based system, keenly tuned in difficulty to implore you to think strategically about the decisions you make in conflicts and how you form your party. Much like Suikoden, a character’s position in the party effects what they can do in combat. Front row units are likely to take a brunt of the punishment from enemies, where backrow units are kept in safety at the cost of range. This, in combination with the sheer number of heroes you can recruit and use in combat, makes for a staggering amount of choice and flexibility before combat is even initiated.

Hero Combos also encourage you to think about how units can compliment each other. Certain characters with narrative ties to one another often have Hero Combos for big damage at the cost of SP and both of those characters’ turns. The extra layer of strategy and consideration that positioning has, coupled with managing important combat resources like SP and MP offer a deceptively deep turn-based combat system. All of this works so effectively because Hundred Heroes’s difficulty curve feels tightly tuned, especially in its challenging boss fights.

eiyuden chronicle hundred heroes review

Another part of contending with Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes’s escalating challenge is through making proper use of gear, and more importantly Rune-Lenses. Rune-Lenses can be slotted onto characters a la Final Fantasy VII’s Materia system, letting them access a set of elemental skills, physical skills, or stat boosts in battle. These vary wildly in application, and exploration can net you some pretty powerful ones. Characters are limited in what type they can equip and how many, with more slots being unlocked as they level up. It’s a great system that allows you to be a bit more flexible with unit roles to cover weaknesses and reinforce strengths.

The biggest issue with combat is in the way it’s taught to the player. It’s clear that Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes assumes that the player has a certain level of familiarity with Suikoden’s own combat framework. There were many things that I had to pick up on my own in the opening hours, either by digging through menus or by coming to my own conclusions. While it’s fun to discover some of this on your own, it can also lead to some frustrating roadblocks in the early game as you try to find your bearings against the more difficult encounters.

eiyuden chronicle hundred heroes review

This initial obtuseness isn’t isolated to Hundred Heroes’ combat. There are certain times in the narrative where you’re let off the leash with no waypoint marker to guide you. While I’m sure many will be relish the prospect of these hands-off moments, they feel too broad in the nudges they give you in the right direction. It often left me trudging about the world map, jumping between different cities and villages, combing through each NPC, only to find out the person I was looking for was in the very same city I started in. These moments are exacerbated by a lack of fast travel in the early game where they rear their heads the most.

It must be said, though, that when you aren’t backtracking to find the next point of progression, Allraan is a joy to explore. It feels adequately sized, dotted with towns both small and large, countless dungeons, and plenty of heroes to recruit for the Liberation Army. It’s fat-free in every way, cutting down on the bloat that plagues many open-worlds today in favour of a more focused offering of locales throughout its many biomes.

eiyuden chronicle hundred heroes review

Besides engaging with main story and side content, the overworld also offers progression through material gathering. These materials can then be used at the Liberation Army’s very own castle, expanding the range of goods and services on offer in your own home base. It really lends to the feeling of building up an army from nothing in order to fight back against those who have it all. Seeing your castle grow and flourish with new recruits as businesses are rebuilt is always rewarding when you stop back in after an adventure.

This feeling of unity among the Liberation Army also comes through in the War battles you’ll get into over the course of the story. These are few and far between, but serve as a nice pace-breaker between all the turn-based combat and overworld exploration. These large-scale strategic affairs see you commanding legions made up of Liberation Army recruits to take down the advancing Galdean forces. There’s some added strategy in how you approach these battles through the use of powerful one-off commands to gain the upper-hand in battle. They never outstay their welcome and always pop up at just the right time.

eiyuden chronicle hundred heroes review

The final piece of the gameplay puzzle comes in the form of Duels. While these one-on-one conflicts are mechanically shallow, they’re thematically rich and an absolute blast to watch unfold. Each one is a furiously cinematic clashing of ideals that’s immensely satisfying to watch unfold. These are even more few and far between then the aforementioned War battles, but always serve as poignant set pieces during narrative climaxes.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundres Heroes is also a joy to take in visually. While it isn’t quite as detailed as some of the other HD-2D/pixel-art titles we’ve seen recently, it has its own flair that hearkens back to the glory days of PS1 RPGs. Character portraits and environments are lovingly created, and the sheer visual variety throughout Allraan is a sight to behold. Special care has been put into combat animations, which always feel impactful and look flashy. Performance is also rock-solid on PS5, but your mileage might vary depending on platform.

eiyuden chronicle hundred heroes review

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is a nostalgic and effective callback to the days of Suikoden and PS1 RPGs. It doesn’t rival the scale and complexity of modern JRPGs, but it doesn’t need to. There’s plenty of joy and satisfaction to be found in the tried and true trappings of this classic sub-genre. It might stumble over its commitment to that vision, but that doesn’t keep Hundred Heroes from delivering on the promise of a comfy JRPG experience.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is a robust remembrance of JRPGs from a bygone era. Despite some of the more archaic design elements of that generation seeping through the cracks, this spiritual successor to Suikoden offers a comforting and familiar experience that feels inherently nostalgic. Between engaging characters, a diverse world, alluring combat, and more, Hundred Heroes is proof that this sub-genre is timeless, even at its roots.
Engaging cast of characters
Challenging turn-based combat
Duels and War break up pacing nicely
Gorgeous art style
Important combat elements aren't introduced properly
Some progression points are too unclear