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Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes review: promising retro RPG falls short

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes cover
Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes
MSRP $49.99
“As a Suikoden successor, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is faithful to a fault.”
  • Politically engaging story
  • Colorful cast of characters
  • Great turn-based battle system
  • Beautiful art direction
  • Minigames are hit-or-miss
  • Woeful lack of quality of life
  • Poor performance on Switch

It was only near the end of Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes that I began to grow accustomed to its retro design. Throughout the RPG, I learned that I should pack as many healing and revival items as I could before a boss fight, but it still didn’t prepare me for what I was about to experience.

I sighed in relief as I finally beat a late-game boss I was struggling with, only to see it pull out a second phase. That was normal for an RPG, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to be stuck in a pseudo time loop. The boss fired off a huge cinematic attack that my wounded and battered party had no chance of withstanding, which led me to a game over screen with the option of a rematch. Attempting to reverse my fate, I faced off the boss again, only for it to start with the same devastating attack once more. No matter how many times I repeated this cycle, the outcome was the same, until I just gave up and decided to load my game from the previous save point.

That small moment exemplifies every little frustration that drags down Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, a retro RPG that acts as a spiritual successor to the Suikoden series. Despite an engaging story, colorful characters, and solid turn-based battles, its lack of quality-of-life consideration and poor performance on Nintendo Switch drag this promising throwback down.

1 vs. 100

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes follows Nowa, the resistance leader of the Alliance, as he gathers heroes from around the continent of Allraan to fight back against the tyrannical Dux Aldric and his Empire. What makes that story so engrossing is its constant shifts in allegiance between multiple parties. Some see the light and defect to Nowa’s side, while others betray the Alliance for their own selfish reasons. There’s a constant tug-of-war between both sides that kept me guessing until the end.

Heroes have colorful personalities that make them feel distinct.

Dux Aldric makes for a compelling villain. While he mostly comes off as a brutish dictator, his motivations seem agreeable. He’s in search of more Rune Lenses, which give people special abilities. However, many of them are in the hands of the privileged few, and Dux Aldric wants to democratize them. It’s noble, but tainted by violence; to him, the ends justifies the means. It adds quite a bit of depth to Dux Aldric as a villain, and with Hundred Heroes’ great pacing, it kept my attention through the entire game.

Hundred Heroes is similar to this year’s Unicorn Overlord in terms of its story setup and character roster. Like the latter’s protagonist, Alain, Nowa can recruit new characters throughout Allraan. They have colorful personalities that make them feel distinct, even though there are so many of them. Some of my favorites include Francesca, a nurse with an ironically short and violent temper, as well as Goldsmid, a goat-giant hybrid who is reminiscent of the satanic Baphomet (but is actually the gentlest guy ever who likes to pick stuff up for you).

Not everyone is fit for battle, but they can be used as support characters with special abilities. The maid Yulin doubles experience gained when in the party while the butler Janquis doubles money earned at the end of battle. Since players can only carry one support character at a time, they’re required to thoughtfully consider what they want to prioritize in their party setup.

Other non-battle characters can be recruited to help out with the Nowa’s headquarters, such as growing crops. The sheer variety of character types is reflected as they all hang around HQ, slowly contributing to the resistance force, and adds a layer of camaraderie and immersion to the experience.

War mini-game in Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes.
Rabbit & Bear Studios

Hundred Heroes has plenty of minigames, including rebuilding the HQ itself. Using various resources like stone and wood and recruiting the right characters, the area transforms into a sprawling little town. There’s also a war minigame similar to that of Risk, where players can rally troops to fight off invaders. The more characters recruited, the stronger the forces are. (Faceless NPCs that fight under commanders are actually names of Kickstarter backers, which is a clever reference to the game’s development origins.)

Not all of those minigames are standouts. There’s a sand boat racing one with terrible controls, and with the Switch version’s shoddy performance, it was hard to even complete. One recruitable character is only unlocked by getting a certain time placement. After many failed attempts, I just threw in the towel and moved on without her.

Teamwork makes the dreamwork

Nowa travels all throughout Allraan in order to recruit allies to his cause while stopping Aldric’s henchmen from encroaching on various towns and dungeons. Sometimes, there’s no urgency in the plot; that’s Nowa’s cue to go out and recruit more people in order to move it forward. This gives plenty of breathing room in the game’s narrative between all of the political tension.

I have to thoughtfully plan out my approach as one wrong move could throw off my rhythm.

Recruitable characters aren’t marked in any way on the map or field either. Players have to search through every nook and cranny throughout Allraan; however, their sprites are visibly distinct. See a guy wandering about with a crown and red robes among a crowd of generic looking townsfolk? He’s probably recruitable. When I found a new character to recruit, it felt rewarding, like I just discovered a jewel among a pile of rocks.

Hundred Heroes’ turn-based gameplay, which puts six characters in battle at once, pays off all that work. I love the strategic challenge of selecting different attacks and taking into consideration the timeline of when my allies and enemies will strike. I have to thoughtfully plan out my approach — especially in boss battles — as one wrong move could throw off my rhythm. Nothing is more stressful than scrambling to protect a teammate who took a big hit.

Young Imperial Hero Combo in Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes.
Rabbit & Bear Studios

For those who don’t want to flex their brain that much, auto-battle is a useful option. It lets characters act on their own to take out enemies. It’s a great way to turn your brain off if you just want to bulldoze through battles. AI behavior can be tweaked in auto-battle mode too. I can tell my team to use certain powerful spells when there are more than four enemies on screen. This really helps so that your magic user doesn’t decide to just use their most-MP-consuming spell if there’s only one enemy left on the field.

Other battle twists make the core combat system even more engaging. There’s a system called Hero Combos, where certain character pairs will fire off cinematic teamwork attacks that deal tremendous damage to monsters if they’re both in the party. Hundred Heroes’ excellent mix of character sprite art and 3D environments make moments like that a dazzling sight to behold.

Retro to a fault

While I have a lot to praise about the combat, features like Hero Combos are where the retro nature of Hundred Heroes drags it down. There isn’t an option to skip through battle animations, forcing players to sit through the same ones over and over again. Hundred Heroes also features old-school random encounters, and it’s incredibly annoying to have to sit through its constant battles — especially when fleeing isn’t always an option.

Quality of life features are sorely lacking across the board. The most egregious omission is that save points don’t restore HP and MP upon interacting with them. This presents a huge problem when I reach the end of a lengthy dungeon at the save point right before a boss fight, and my party isn’t in any shape to tackle it. In all of these situations, I had to backtrack all the way back to a town, sleep at the inn to restore my party, and then haul my butt back to the save point all the while trying to minimize the number of random encounters I trigger. That’s how a lot of old RPGs work, so decisions like that may delight some. For me, it’s just a good reminder of why evolution is a good thing.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is perhaps faithful to a fault.

In Suikoden games, there are usually recruitable party members that provide these kinds of features. In Hundred Heroes, you meet someone who has teleportation powers. That’s how the party unlocks fast travel. There’s also a woman who joins if you place her as your support character, giving the ability to rearrange your party at save points. If there’s a support character that restores HP and MP at save points, I have yet to easily find such a needed power. While this kind of worldbuilding and implementation is admirable, I just wish some of these abilities were just standard features instead of being conditional.

That annoyance is compounded by several instances where Hundred Heroes will throw in a gauntlet of battles, often having me fight up to four waves of enemies in a row without the opportunity of healing, saving, or using items in between. One time, I didn’t have enough healing items for a boss fight so I had to reload a previous save to purchase them, and then repeat the entire war minigame prior to that boss battle. Those frequent pain points single-handedly drained my enthusiasm.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes Battle
505 Games

Hundred Heroes doesn’t perform well on Switch either. Thankfully, there were a few patches that were pushed out during the review period that alleviated some early issues. A five-second delay from pressing the menu button to that menu popping up has been cut down to one-second. Some gripes still exist though, such as frame rate stuttering while roaming the open world and some egregious pop-in problems. Trees and bushes appear out of nowhere, and long loading times between going through different areas persist.

As a Suikoden successor, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is perhaps faithful to a fault. Its war story is better than those found in most Fire Emblem games, and its vibrant cast of characters are a highlight. The turn-based battle system is one of the best I’ve experienced of its kind in recent years, too. It’s just a shame that frustratingly retro RPG design and lacking quality-of-life features put a damper on the whole journey. With a few adjustments, Nowa’s story could’ve been a better tale to bring back home from the frontlines.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes was reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

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George Yang
George Yang is a freelance games writer for Digital Trends. He has written for places such as IGN, GameSpot, The Washington…
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