Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes Review – The JRPG never left

Reviewed April 22, 2024 on PS5


PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X|S


April 24, 2024


505 Games


Rabbit & Bear Studios

A sequel to 2022’s action RPG Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising and a spiritual successor to the original titles in the Suikoden series, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes plunders the aesthetics and mechanics of the late nineties’ era of PlayStation JRPGs and polishes them up for the modern audience.

This title smashed its 2020 Kickstarter goal less than two hours after it was announced, promising a hundred playable characters; and to top it all off, it was developed by the original creators of Suikoden. It’s a sprawling, old-school JRPG through and through, with all the trimmings left intact.

Eiyuden Chronicle begins with protagonist Nowa joining the League of Independent Nations in a quest to uncover a rare Rune Lens, a magical artifact of great power. The Galdean Empire, who has developed a technological enhancement for these lenses, sends officer Seign to accompany Nowa and the pair form an unlikely friendship. Chaos, drama, and war ensues, with alliances tested, royalty dethroned, and nations laid to waste. It’s a classic RPG adventure plot, taking Nowa across the entire world in search of Heroes who can join him in the inevitable fight against the Empire.

While some of the initial dialogue throws out a few red flags – Lian, Nowa’s enthusiastic teammate, lets out a “Well, that just happened!” minutes into the story – it quickly becomes clear that Eiyuden Chronicle is establishing a playful tone in a world of strife. Characters are incredibly defined and often strong in their convictions, making conversations pop with moments of quick conflict and levity. Despite its often wordy cutscenes, some excellent voice acting and generally solid writing means the narrative can keep ticking along even as characters repeat plot points in that classic JRPG fashion.

It’s also immediately apparent that the visual design is a complete labour of love. Character portraits and sprites are iconic and ooze personality. They stand out beautifully against the three-dimensional environments, which, while simplistic, feature gorgeous lighting effects and just enough focus blur to let the heroes shine. The dynamic camera also works overtime to capture cinematic vistas as you traverse the world, highlighting significant features in the landscape.

A hundred heroes in a room

The marketing for Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes prominently features the phrase “the JRPG is back”, which is a little rich in light of a genre that in recent years has played host to some of the best titles in gaming. However, its other claim to fame is “one hundred playable characters” which is demonstrably true. There are (possibly more than) one hundred recruitable heroes in Eiyuden Chronicle, each with their own design, voice lines, narrative purpose, and mechanical skillset. Some heroes are added to your roster by progressing the narrative, while others need to be sought out in the vast world and convinced to join the cause.

Many heroes are an absolute delight to encounter, such as the foul-mouthed cleric Francesca. She establishes an incredibly strong character immediately, forms a combat archetype that fits her style, and occasionally lets loose a guttural “AND STAY THE HELL DOWN” when finishing an enemy that never ceased to make me chuckle. Others show off their personality through their recruitment quests or individual commentary on different locations in the overworld, making it refreshing to revisit towns and dungeons with different party members. A generous catch-up XP bonus for lower-level heroes also makes it easy to switch up your party on the fly and try out somebody new.

Not every hero joins you in combat, however. As well as the front and back rows of the party, some heroes can be equipped in the Support slot. While in this position, they provide special effects, such as temporary stat buffs or item collection point bonuses. Quite a few heroes are only able to occupy the Support slot. It was a little disappointing to discover a cool new character, only to discover that they couldn’t be used in combat and their Support ability was functionally useless – I couldn’t think of a situation where I was going to choose “gain more wood from item collection points” over a direct stat buff.

A particular Support-only hero, Pastole, is especially disappointing to encounter. This flamboyant character is at first a refreshingly camp delight, complete with lispy voice acting – until you find that the whole joke is that he’s a hunter, who “traps” his prey with his charms, which is a play on a transphobic and homophobic slur. Not only do you get stuck with another useless Support, but you also get a tone-deaf slice of bigotry on top. Modern JRPGs have shown that they can include excellent queer-coded characters (such as Sylvando in Dragon Quest XI) so it’s pretty shameful to see Eiyuden Chronicle wheeling out tired, harmful tropes.

The enemies we made along the way

Aside from a few special circumstances, combat in Eiyuden Chronicle sees you controlling a party of six heroes in turn-based bouts against all manner of fantastical beasts. You choose actions for all of your characters before each round and can view the action order at the top of the screen, allowing you to plan around enemy movements and possibly take out a foe before it has the chance to act.

Each character has a basic attack, a defensive manoeuvre (such as defending, evading, or taunting), and a selection of Rune Lens abilities depending on which Runes they have equipped. The Rune system is where most of the customisation of your heroes takes place: elemental Runes provide access to offensive and healing spells, buffing Runes enhance a character’s stats, and skill Runes unlock stronger weapon-specific attacks. Magical Rune Lens abilities cost MP which must be replenished with items or at inns, while others cost SP which gradually builds up during each turn of combat.

You’ll also gain access to Hero Combos, special abilities that see combinations of heroes team up for a more powerful attack. These unlock throughout the story as characters form alliances and bonds of friendship.

Enemies have weaknesses to particular weapon types and elements, meaning your team composition in any particular dungeon should (in theory) adapt to meet the enemy types you expect to encounter. You’ll want to bring archers against flying enemies, mages against enemies with high physical defence, and warriors with high blunt damage against heavily armoured foes to destroy their protective coverings.

With scores of heroes to choose from, Eiyuden Chronicle’s combat system has the potential to allow for diverse party builds and tonnes of player creativity. Unfortunately, some frustrating design decisions remove much of the satisfaction from building your party, and make most encounters feel sluggish and repetitive. I spent my first dozen hours trying to put my finger on why this theoretically robust combat system didn’t feel good, and in large part, it comes down to inefficiency.

The random encounter rate may be low, but each battle can potentially have you facing six foes that each get their own turn. Granted, the Auto-battle option exists, but you’re still sitting through several turns of repetitive animation to get through a low-stakes encounter. Additionally, in order for you not to waste your party’s precious resources in Auto mode, you need to spend ages tinkering with each hero’s combat “priorities” lest they sink half of their MP into a Rabbit Knight or chug all of your healing items. Failing a Flee action gives up your turn which can mean tonnes of damage to any of your squishier heroes, meaning I spent many encounters button-mashing the default Attack option just trying to get through each fight as quickly as possible.

Outside of combat, the main menu contains seven different tabs that each take half a second longer to load than you’d expect. They also each display different combinations of hero information (between stats, equipment, equipped Runes, support abilities etc.) which adds chaff to the cognitive load of trying to manage a growing roster of heroes. Once you know your way around, the menu lag becomes even more of an issue – particularly during narrative events where the game hands you an entirely separate team of six to maintain. It’s also here that you’ll rub up against the limitations of the Rune system. Many characters are frustratingly shoehorned into specific roles based on which Runes they can equip, limiting your options and making some heroes into relative duds. It makes the party-forming process hit an uncomfortable middle ground of complexity: there’s enough going on to care about your team’s composition, but not enough variety in tools to meaningfully engage in creative teambuilding.

“Boss fights… are a spectacular highlight whenever they crop up.”

While Eiyuden Chronicle’s boss fights aren’t immune from the issues with its combat, they are a spectacular highlight whenever they crop up. Each boss is incredibly satisfying to figure out and take down, with their battle arenas often featuring “Gimmicks” that allow you to dodge their mighty attacks or slam them with unique weapons. They do suffer a little from their often long length (with a particularly gruelling sequence throwing you against four very similar bosses in a row) but they manage to stand out as satisfying tests of your party build and knowledge of the game’s mechanics.

In a pure callback to the Suikoden series, the game also features “strategy” and “duel” combat modes, which crop up during the main story and attempt to convey the drama of an epic skirmish or a one-on-one confrontation respectively. Duels are extremely simple in that you choose whether to attack or counter-attack, eventually aiming to break your opponent’s guard – in practice, they’re pretty half-baked and tend to sap the drama from otherwise tense cutscenes. These feel like a mechanic that could have quite comfortably been left behind in the nineties. Strategy battles, on the other hand, task you with commanding groups of allies on a large battlefield grid. There’s an entire wargaming system at play here involving positioning, composition of battle units, and commander units with special abilities. It’s surprisingly in-depth, and while it’s not particularly intuitive to pick up, there are enough narrative aids to give you a decent sense of a large battle’s scale.

Aside from its main story, Eiyuden Chronicle contains several side adventures to delve into, which will be utterly delightful to the right kind of RPG player. Once the Alliance HQ is established, you gain access to a Development system that employs the resources and allies you’ve found in your adventure to construct buildings and enhance facilities. This feels much like the Colony 6 quest from the original Xenoblade Chronicles: completely optional, but a delicious time sink for those who want to spend more time with the game. It also gives purpose to some of the more minor heroes you recruit, who often run a shop or facility at the Alliance HQ.

There’s also fishing, cooking, a Beyblade-style spinning top game, and a couple of other oddly in-depth minigames that really round out the PlayStation-era feeling of this title’s world. These pursuits definitely won’t appeal to everyone, but anyone who lost hours of their lives to Final Fantasy VII’s Chocobo Racing will feel a little kick of nostalgia at this game’s side hustles. It’s these callbacks and nudges that will likely make or break the appeal of Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. Gamers raised on its forebears will find plenty to love in this adventure, while JRPG newcomers used to the conveniences of modern design may struggle to engage with its classic quirks.




  • Gorgeous visual design in characters and environments
  • Excellent voice acting, bringing life to playful dialogue
  • Tonnes of nostalgic side content to enjoy


  • Combat feels slow and repetitive
  • Quantity over quality when it comes to team-building
  • Some "classic" mechanics don't hold up

Despite boldly declaring “the JRPG is back” and then doing absolutely nothing new with the genre, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is a decent, traditional JRPG that will tickle anyone who adored the classic PlayStation titles of the late nineties. Its modern affordances in visual design and voice acting bring this nostalgic adventure into the present day, but it is let down by sluggish, repetitive combat and some missed opportunities when it comes to utilising its massive roster of characters. Fans of Suikoden will likely already have this pre-ordered — for everyone else, check this out if you’re looking for a nostalgic romp and don’t mind a few speed bumps along the way.