Game Review: Eiyuden Chronicle (Switch)

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is a crowd funded game that has been touted as the spiritual successor to the old-school JRPG Suikoden games. While the game has been released on multiple platforms, my experience and thus this review will focus solely on the game on the Nintendo Switch.

Firstly, I had followed the game for a while during its development. I hadn’t played a Suikoden game in years but despite that I am, and have been for a while, a big fan of JRPG games, especially turn-based combat ones. I watched for release news, gameplay previews/trailers, price updates, and more. Luckily, social media kept me up to date on the game’s news and I spread the word to friends and family who I knew would appreciate the game’s content.

Eventually, the game released and I was patiently waiting in the Nintendo eStore to purchase and download the game as soon as its release window hit. It took me about 2 hours to get the game downloaded once the release window hit. And that’s the first negative for me about the game. There was no pre-order/pre-purchase option. I couldn’t buy the game early and have it loaded but “locked” until its release. No. Instead, I couldn’t even buy the game until that window hit which meant that it took me several minutes to complete the digital purchase and then a few hours to download and install the game.

I would spend the next several days playing for 12-18 hours a day sometimes until I had completed the game. And while I enjoyed the game and played it through in its entirety, I cannot currently recommend this game to anyone else.

The game looks nice. The combat system is fun and engaging. There are lots of places to explore. Tons of gear to buy and upgrade. There are 120 total characters that you can recruit into your army. Some can be in your combat party. Some can be support to your party and provide bonuses in or out of combat. And some allow you to expand your headquarters to do more things. There is no reason not to recruit as many people as possible. There are multiple mini-games players can enjoy like a card game, battle tops (think Beyblades), and even a racing game where you can hatch, raise, and breed a variety of racers to get the ultimate racer.

But despite all of these cool game components, the game suffers terribly from either poor coding by the developers or poor conversion from the original source code to a Nintendo Switch supported build. Maybe the game isn’t optimized for the Nintendo Switch or maybe the game is just too intense for the Switch’s hardware. I’m not sure what the issue is but whatever it is, its bad.

By the time I beat the game I had over 81 hours on my save file. However, for every 2 to 2.5 hours of gameplay I experienced 1 game crash or lockup. That means that I had to spend several minutes every couple of hours to shut down the game, reboot it, wait for the game to load, click through the menus to load my recent save, wait for that load, and then repeat whatever content had been lost due to the game’s instability.

On more than one occasion, the game forced me to go from story to fight to story to fight without the chance to save only to have the game crash on me toward the end of the ordeal. In one place, I had the game crash 3 times in a row, requiring me to replay the same 20 minutes each time I rebooted before I was able to make it beyond that point. That means that right there I had to spend 80 minutes replaying the same part of the game over and over again until on the 4th attempt the game somehow didn’t crash. 

Likewise, when I was managing my headquarters, if it was the first time that session that I attempted to make a major upgrade or build a new building then it was guaranteed that the game would freeze. I would have to shut down the game, reload it, and then I could make the desired change with no issue. And I could continue to make minor changes with little or no risk but the next time I returned to my headquarters and wanted to make another big change I needed to make sure I saved first because I knew the game was going to freeze up. 

And this leads me to the next part that really pissed me off about the game. The game did have an auto-save feature but it seemed that the auto-save did not save after key story events when players couldn’t save. The auto-save seemed random at best. Fast travel did not initialize auto-save. I could not find any rhyme or reason that the game would auto-save, only that it would at random have an updated time on the save profile. This meant that like an old-school JRPG, I had to be sure to save and save frequently, which was fine as long as I had the chance to save and/or the game didn’t crash when it prevented me from being able to save.

I did encounter and learn about a number of other bugs in the game as I researched it. With 120 recruitable characters, which is a little concerning considering the game is called “Hundred Heroes” and not “Hundred+ Heroes”, I wanted to make sure I found them all. In the end, I only ended up with 119 because there’s 1 that you can only get if you’ve recruited everyone else before a certain point in the story and I missed it. I got everyone else but not before the unspecified mark in the game.

Oh well. I got most of them and if that character is limited to only showing up at the very end of the game then I wasn’t too worried about it. I took the key characters that I liked and used them to just demolish the game.

But I digress.

There were bugs like if you go into a certain town before you recruit someone from another town or you go into that town without that other person in your party that it will bug a recruitable character in that town and you will never be able to recruit that person even if you later meet the objectives. Something as simple as walking into a town can completely block you from recruiting a character, that’s a pretty big bug for a game that’s all about recruiting characters.

There was another bug where you had to deal 1600 damage to a character over 3 rounds of combat. If you were successful, the person would join your army. If you were unsuccessful, the person would let you challenge them as many times as you wanted until you either give up or accomplish the goal. Unfortunately, there is a bug that if you use special skills or magic that combat will exit prematurely. Instead of getting 3 full combat turns, you get 2.5. The only wait to beat the challenge is to level up your characters and use specific skills and spells to do the necessary damage in less than 2 full rounds. And while it is possible, it just sucks that the challenge is to do it within 3 rounds but the game won’t give you 3 rounds.

There were other bugs, smaller bugs, like missing or corrupted dialogue text for a background character in one town. Elements of the game’s design were quirky. You could fast travel/teleport to some place but not away from that same place. When doing upgrades or managing equipment in certain screens it would show you everyone you recruited but not give you options to sort by who was or wasn’t in your current party, no option to favorite specific characters, or anything like that. You could basically only sort alphabetically, by level, or by recruitment. It just seemed odd to give us so many characters to manage but not a way to sort by party or by favorites.

There seemed to be some balancing issues in the game too. Certain characters when partied together had combo attacks they could perform in combat. One might think that such a combo would be super powerful but oftentimes it seemed that the combo attack did the same or less damage than if the characters attacked alone. There wasn’t much incentive to perform those combos other than maybe letting a slower character attack earlier in the round because the combo timing sped them up above their normal attack rate. But really, the combos weren’t that special and provided little more than a visual effect for the player.

And the final boss fight was very unsatisfying. You don’t fight the last boss. You have a duel with him which requires you to take turns picking between attack and defend. If you pick the combo of when to attack and when to defend correctly, you win. You get so much as a single selection wrong and you will lose the duel. It is unforgiving and gives you no sense of tactical control. You basically listen to whatever quip the boss says after each round to determine what you need to do. If he says this, pick attack. If he says that, pick defend. Rinse and repeat. That’s it. I spent hours of playing time leveling up my characters, equipping them with the best gear, unlocking all of their skills, and more only to have all of that effort thrown aside for a final fight that uses the duel system where none of that matters. I could have done that duel with my characters at level 1 and it would have had the same outcome as long as I chose the correct prompts.

What a shame!

I logged some bug reports with the developer through their website. I posted comments on their Facebook page about my negative experiences and multiple lockups. I even gave Nintendo a review, at their request, where I ended with a statement that Nintendo should delist the game from their eStore until the developer can make the game more stable. The game comes with a AAA price of $50+ and has AAA content but it doesn’t have AAA quality.

With some good patches to the fix the game’s bigger issues, this could be an excellent game but until then, this is a poor investment for any gamer, especially on the Nintendo Switch. I have seen online where other platforms have had some of the same bugs and issues that I’ve seen and reported but I know for a fact that the Nintendo Switch version of the game is super buggy.

And before anyone questions my Switch, just know that my son has his own Switch and we have both experienced the same issues. I have an original Switch that play primarily docked and he has a newer OLED that he plays mostly handheld. Two different models. Two different play styles. Two different houses. Same set of bugs. That’s the game, not us.

Avoid this game until further notice!

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