Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes makes me respect Sea of Stars much more

Sea of Stars main cast
Sabotage Studio

Plenty of recent video games have tried to recapture the nostalgic retro vibes of early 1990s RPGs. And some are extra successful than others.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, out now, is a religious successor to the favored Suikoden collection. After all, the sport was developed by Rabbit & Bear, a studio composed of earlier Konami staff who labored on the Suikoden video games. With the collection having been dormant with none new entries since 2012, it was Hundred Heroes’ time to shine. It sports activities a superb story and implausible worldbuilding, together with a pixel artwork path that invokes these emotions of nostalgia.

But with these strengths come some ’90s baggage. Its high quality of life is missing, with aggravating useful resource administration, stingy therapeutic choices, and a glut of drained random encounters. Those points harm my playthrough, which I mentioned was devoted to a fault in my review earlier this week. Hundred Heroes had the right alternative to convey the spirit of Suikoden to the fashionable age, however it as a substitute reveals the pitfalls of sticking too near previous sport design. The finest retro revivals seize nostalgia whereas nonetheless pushing sport design ahead. And there’s no higher counterpoint to Hundred Heroes than final yr’s triumphant Sea of Stars.

Moving retro ahead

At a look, Sea of Stars appears to be like prefer it was pulled instantly from the SNES period. It’s painted in devoted pixel artwork that doesn’t look that far off from Chrono Trigger. The extra you dig into its gameplay, although, the extra it differs from that sport. It doesn’t have random enemy encounters; foes wander the display and rush at gamers to provoke battles. While enemies are fairly quick and can shortly chase you down in the event that they spot you, at the very least I do know when to anticipate a battle. In Hundred Heroes, I used to be praying that I wouldn’t set off a battle once I was backtracking to an inn to revive my occasion’s well being. It’s the type of old-school design philosophy that video video games have grown previous for the higher.

Sea of Stars does share some previous design quirks with Hundred Heroes. Save factors don’t restore HP and MP within the former, simply the identical because the latter. The large distinction in Sea of Stars is that there’s often a campsite inside shut proximity that can be utilized to revive stats. In Hundred Heroes, you’re typically thrown into consecutive battles of as much as 4 with no alternatives to heal in between. Some Sea of Stars bosses will truly absolutely heal your occasion up earlier than you combat them. I want the bosses in Hundred Heroes had been that good to me.

Sea of Stars battle system in play.
Sabotage Studios

Little particulars like that, or the shortage of them, add up. MP restoration is uncommon in Hundred Heroes, so I all the time really feel discouraged from utilizing any of my magical characters. There was no level in casting highly effective spells when my warriors may inflict extra injury than my mages. While I used to be capable of purchase loads of therapeutic potions from retailers in preparation for lengthy dungeons and massive battles, I wasn’t capable of finding MP-restoring ones in any shops. I solely obtained a number of of them as merchandise drops from successful battles.

It’s a design resolution which may have been widespread in ’90s RPGs, however Sea of Stars’ extra artistic strategy reveals the delicate energy of innovation. In that sport, MP will be regained from attacking enemies with bodily strikes. It nearly appears like an concept born extra out of Doom (2016), the place gamers can solely heal by occurring the offensive. This system provides a layer of technique to turn-based battles, the place I’d continuously swap between regular and MP-consuming assaults as a way to hit correct enemy weaknesses.

Accessibility calls for adjustments

It’s not simply that these concepts make Sea of Stars really feel smoother to play with out sacrificing its retro vibe. Their largest boon is the accessibility and approachability they carry to a style that lacked these options within the Nineties. Relics, which will be discovered all through the sport, act as equipable accessibility choices that permit gamers tailor the gameplay to their wants. They will be toggled on and off at any time. For instance, the Amulet of Storytelling offers 100% auto heal after fight, and the Guardian Aura reduces all incoming injury by 30%.

Some relics even make the sport more durable. The Dubious Dare will increase injury taken by 40%. These sorts of choices weren’t current in older RPGs, however their inclusion in Sea of Stars helps it attain out to larger audiences. Hundred Heroes has some modifiers of its personal, however all of them exist solely to make the sport more difficult, like not permitting therapeutic objects to be consumed throughout battle. Now that I’m older with grownup obligations, comfort is a a lot larger issue than once I was youthful.

Sea of Stars exploration and map.
Sabotage Studios

Players who grew up with these video games within the ’90s could also be in search of these nostalgic experiences, however that doesn’t imply that they’ll’t be modernized. In an interview with NPR, artistic director Thierry Boulanger mentioned that he didn’t wish to replicate what made some retro video games irritating.

“If the audience were to go back and actually replay those games, they might think less fondly of them,” Boulanger defined. “The idea for Sea of Stars was to remove that tedium and get players to feel like they’re moving forward, all the time.”

With Konami planning to launch remasters of the first two Suikoden games in a single bundle quickly, the studio revealed that it’ll include new high quality of life options, together with the power to fast-forward battles. Ironically, Hundred Heroes doesn’t even have that function, which is a disgrace. Perhaps Rabbit & Bear may replace Hundred Heroes by way of patches and embody some extra high quality of life options, however these may be extra probably for a sequel (the studio has confirmed that it’s aiming to release a follow-up). If you possibly can’t wait that lengthy, Sea of Stars will provide you with that nostalgic retro repair with out the frustration.

Sea of Stars and Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes can be found on PC, PlayStation 4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. They’re additionally out there on Xbox Game Pass.

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