Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes Is A Faithful PS1 Throwback for Better and Worse

They don’t make them like they used to.

screenshot from Eiyuden Chronicle Hundred Heroes
505 Games

From the moment of its announcement in 2020, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes has had the attention of old-school RPG fans. The game was immediately hailed as a successor to Konami’s role-playing series Suikoden, both thanks to its resemblance to that PlayStation classic in its reveal trailer and the fact that it’s directed by Suikoden’s creator, Yoshitaka Murayama. Now that Eiyuden Chronicle has been released, it’s clear that it is every bit the Suikoden successor that fans were hoping for, but one that feels rooted to the original PlayStation era in ways both good and bad.

Eiyuden Chronicle opens with a story setup about as classic as they come in RPGs. The evil Empire is overstepping its bounds, pushing against the border of its smaller neighbor to incite conflict. Their ploy soon leads to open combat, and the main character is part of a scrappy band of adventurers who inevitably hold the key to restoring peace.

Eiyuden Chronicle’s varied and colorful cast are more exciting than the game they inhabit.

It’s a story you’ve probably heard dozens of times in different forms if you’re an RPG fan, and for good reason. It’s easy to understand and immediately establishes the game’s high stakes, but doesn’t do much to shake up established tropes. In that way, Eiyuden’s Chronicle embodies what will make it such a polarizing game — just about every element sticks to a fairly predictable formula you can trace back to ‘90s RPGs, with their highs and lows preserved intact.

The same is true of its combat. Like Suikoden before it, Eiyuden Chronicle lets players recruit an army of over 100 characters and bring six of them into battle at a time. It also borrows Suikoden’s cinematic style, where the party’s actions are all planned at once, then they carry out orders at the same time in a gorgeous flurry of seamless attack animations.

While combat has these excellent visual flourishes, it feels stale. Aside from a basic attack, characters can use Rune Lens abilities that require MP (which only recharges by resting or using items) or SP (which charges slowly throughout battles). For the most part, it’s standard fare. Elemental magic, healing spells, abilities that inflict status ailments — all things you could find in just about any PS1 RPG chosen at random.

Eiyden Chronicle’s battles look spectacular, but feel uninspired.

505 Games

Especially compared to other recent games that function as odes to old-school RPGs, there’s not much to get excited about in battles. Think of Octopath Traveler’s excellent Break mechanic that stalls enemy turns, or Chained Echoes complex push-and-pull systems that force players to think carefully about when to use their most powerful abilities. Eiyuden Chronicle has nothing even approaching that level of complexity.

Combat isn’t necessarily bad in Eiyuden Chronicle, it’s just not particularly good. But paired with some of the game’s other throwback choices, it starts to feel like a chore. To put it bluntly, the game’s dungeons are a slog. As you play through its story, Eiyuden Chronicle often sends your band of merry adventurers into linear dungeons, which feel like museum exhibits showing what life was like for the average RPG protagonist in 1995. You follow the path, solve incredibly basic puzzles, and fight loads of random encounters along the way. I’ve yet to come across a memorable dungeon in the 15 or so hours I’ve played so far, and my hopes aren’t high that that will change if I press on.

When Eiyuden Chronicle does decide to change things up, the results are mixed. Along with standard combat, you also encounter large-scale battles as the Empire seeks to conquer your homeland. For these sequences, your characters are arranged into units set up on a small grid, and fighting consists of mashing these units together like you’re play-fighting with action figures until the one with higher stats wins. On top of that are duels, one-on-one fights where your only choice is to attack or defend, based on cues from your opponent. Eiyuden Chronicle is packed with non-combat minigames as well, further leaning into the retro vibe by recalling the way games like Final Fantasy VII were stuffed with minigames with seemingly no concern about whether they made sense or were even fun to play.

Eiyuden Chronicle’s minigames are a mixed bag in and out of combat.

505 Games

Where Eiyuden Chronicle shines is in its most Suikoden-y aspect — building your castle. As you recruit members for your army, your new pals can also take up positions in your castle, providing services and gathering resources for the burgeoning resistance. Exploring the castle and chatting with its inhabitants as you build up your base are highlights of the game, and while they’re borrowed from Suikoden, the fact that they haven’t been replicated ad nauseam like so much else you’ll find in Eiyuden Chronicle makes the whole management side feel fresh.

How much you like Eiyuden Chronicle probably comes down to how hungry you are for more Suikoden. And I do mean more Suikoden, not a modern improvement on it. Replace its stunning art style and gorgeous soundtrack with their ‘90s equivalents, and you’d be hard pressed to believe Eiyuden Chronicle only came out this year. I thought I wanted all that, but after more than a dozen hours with the game, I found its staunch refusal to innovate more tedious than nostalgic.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes releases on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC on April 23.

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