Eiyuden Chronicle is yet another game I can't wait to play in 2024
I feel for any publisher that has to preview an RPG; it's an abnormally difficult genre to sell players on in a short timeframe, so it's a testament to Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes that its opening hour has already managed to get its hooks in me, leaving me even more excited for the game's launch on April 23, 2024.
During our one hour session, we played what is essentially the prologue to the events that bring the main story into motion; a joint mission between the League of Nations and the Empire leads to Nowa and his crew discovering an artifact that threatens to shake the foundations of the world. The empire, with the power to amplify the magical power of rune-lenses, a person's unique ability to call forth magic, threatens to use said artifact to reignite the sparks of war. But for our session - we merely observed the joint operations of soldiers who didn't yet have any reason to take up arms against each other.
Speaking of taking up arms, it's too early to make any sweeping statements about Eiyuden's battle system. You can control a group of up to 6 characters, and in addition to standard attacks you can utilize MP or SP (a resource gained once per turn) to utilize skills with extra utility. Certain combinations of characters, assuming their relationships are good enough, can even both spend SP to use special Hero Combo attacks that hit especially hard. It's simple enough at the start of the game, of course, but it looks promising for what players can expect later on as your levels and number of recruited heroes increase.
It feels obligatory to mention that Eiyuden Chronicles: Hundred Heroes is a beautiful game. It's not quite gunning for the same artstyle as Square Enix's HD-2D suite of titles, but in action Rabbit and Bear Studios' take on the concept works incredibly well, with an overall aesthetic pretty similar to Star Ocean: The Second Story R's artstyle, with much larger character sprites. Map design feels very solid, too, and the brief excursion we had with the world map gave a great first impression for what players might be able to expect once the game opens up, and lets you really explore.
This extended to the preview's main dungeon's layout, too. For a first dungeon, it felt suitably long - and even offered a number of light puzzles that didn't actively get in the way of the pacing of exploring it. If we can expect dungeon design to expand upon - or, hell, even copy - the same concepts shown here, I'd expect the game's offerings to be some of the better ones in recent memory. If nothing else, combined with the overworld exploration and the sprawling map, I have hope that Eiyuden's world will end up feeling like a world that was truly worth exploring.
Outside of visuals, the soundtrack already feels like a strong contender for our 2024 RPG of the Year nominations, and the game of course won't even be out for another 4 1/2 months. The track that played in the forest leading up to the main dungeon of the session especially impressed, and the battle themes did, too. Voice acting was solid, too, though we only had the opportunity to listen to the game's Japanese audio; localization is still a work in progress, and indeed while we could see that the game is filled with plenty of party banter, these were errored out as the translations for them have not yet been finished.
All in all; it's still too soon to say with complete certainty about the state of the game, but it's hard not to get excited about the full game's promise after seeing how well the game already feels. 2024 is a year where almost every RPG fan will have to pick and choose which games they can make time to play, but Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes makes a strong argument for why it should be on your shortlist of games to play when it launches next year.