22 June 2024

Chained Echoes is one of those cases that struck me by its graphics but grabbed me by its story. This title resembles the gameplay of old JRPG’s with a tweak of modern mechanics. But If I’m being honest here… I can’t say that I have finished any of the old JRPG’s. Yes, I’m opening up my horizons on the game genre that I like to cover. Well, I can compare it with Final Fantasy X and in that regard, it’s not as heavy grinding as Final Fantasy. I mean, you can grind but not to level up the character itself but its types of equipment and everything related to it. I will explain further.

Now that we have that out of the way, Chained Echoes is a story-driven JRPG developed by the solo dev Matthias Linda, where the story takes place in a fantasy medieval steampunk atmosphere when three major nations are at war. The player starts in the middle of a destruction event that takes the lives of thousands of people. After this catastrophic event, a group of characters is going to join your quest by different means, and even if they don’t agree with the terms at first, they will gladly fight by your side to try to put an end to the war between its three kingdoms, in the vast continent of Valandis. Each of these characters has their own backstories and motivations that translate to the actual playstyle when it comes down the encounters with enemies.

This title resonates with a turn based battle system, where you use 4 party members but can switch between others at a later stage through progressing the story, in a kind of tag team mechanics. For that, you need to link two characters as you most pleased, before the battle, so the option to change between them is available during the fight. Remember that you can only tag team with the chosen pairing, so take your time to evaluate the enemies and the situation around you and choose wisely. The most crucial element during the combat is the Overdrive meter, a bar on the top of the screen divided between three colors. The objective is to stay in the green area so that you can take the most out of the situation. Staying in the green area means taking less damage, dealing more damage, and skills costs much less resources. On the other end staying in the red area means that you are overheated and ending up taking more damage. To lower the meter it’s necessary to match the corresponding type of attack listed on the Overdrive ability slot or just simply defend and not perform any action. Performing a different attack than the one listed or taking damage will make the bar progress closer to the red area. Last but not least there’s an Ultra Move that can be performed by the characters, with different objectives divided between offense or defensive, that helps the player in the toughest situations. The Ultra meter will naturally be filled during the fights.

Every single fight feels fresh and different from another. The need to use different abilities keeps the player on the edge since a slight misstep can lead to a ton of damage inflicted by the enemy. The boss fights are always different and the mechanics are often shifting. The level of difficulty sometimes spikes to hard levels but a different approach to the situation might help do the trick. The thing is the game itself forces you to not just blind attack the enemies by using the same attack over and over again. A well-put strategy is imperative to overcome some foes.

After each fight, it’s granted skill points which the player can allocate to level up the skills on the skill tree, equipment, accessories, and class emblems. Levels are mainly attached to important story combat moments, this means that you can’t simply grind to level up the character in that regard. When you level up the level points will be available to every character. It’s then possible to choose which skills to learn and build up the growth path the way you most please.

In terms of customizing, Class Emblems give skills and stats attached to that specific class, and any character can equip and use its benefits. If a character uses it long enough it can master the skills and equip them forever even without the emblem. Gems are also super useful to further customize your equipment. For this, you need to combine gems from the same base to improve its levels and consequently its stats.

It’s highly recommended to explore every single corner of the vast locations. There are tons of NPC’s to talk with, that can actually give useful information, advices, and even gifts, treasures to dig, and enemies to fight against to earn more Skill Points.

If you are an RPG fan this is an easy pick, the story is fun and involving with a touch of high fantasy, which I so appreciate, and sometimes even mature, since it approached sensitive subjects. Take your time to also appreciate the music that goes along super well with everything that it’s going on on the screen and of course the graphics, the sublime pixel art graphics.