Chained Echoes is an absolute triumph of RPG design, seven years in the making from solo indie developer Matthias Linda. After a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2019, Linda’s vision for a new RPG has finally become a reality, and it’s a masterpiece that ticks all the boxes from nostalgia to modern gaming tropes. This RPG is one of the best of its kind, with a captivating narrative, engaging gameplay, and fantastic visuals.
An Uneasy Peace
Set on the continent of Valandis, Chained Echoes follows a group of nobles, thieves, and mercenaries who find their fates intertwined as they work together to prevent the outbreak of war. The story begins with a major event in the war between three kingdoms that results in an uneasy truce, and your party is formed to prevent further conflict. This setup sets the stage for a complex and multi-layered story that is both intriguing and emotionally impactful. The plot does sometimes get a little dry as there is a lot to read, but it’s easy to get invested in the story and the characters, who each bring something unique to the game.
One of the standout features of Chained Echoes is the lack of a designated main character. Instead, the emphasis is placed on the team as a whole, and the relationships that develop between each character. This makes every character feel equally important and creates plenty of room for interesting exchanges. For example, Lenne is the princess of a kingdom who has run away from her lavish lifestyle to better understand the life of the average citizen, and Glenn is a former prisoner who has become a mercenary thanks to his mechanical skills. Each character has a compelling backstory and personal stakes, making them all the more compelling.
On the gameplay front, Chained Echoes excels with its open environment design. The game world is vast, yet it’s easy to navigate, and there are many secrets to discover, such as treasure chests and hidden boss fights. The Reward Board is a highlight of the game, providing a wide array of objectives to chase in any order you choose. The board is laid out like a game board, with each box representing an achievement, such as finding a certain number of treasures in a specific zone or killing a specific enemy in an unconventional way. Fulfilling any of the spots on the board rewards you with a small prize, and any adjacent spots you can fulfill will start a chain. The longer the chain, the bigger the rewards, encouraging you to make the most of each area you visit.
Challenging Boss Battles
Chained Echoes also breaks away from the typical Town>Field>Dungeon loop that many JRPGs fall into. The pacing of the game is well-balanced, with moments of freedom and exploration, and moments of linear, plot-driven sequences. One standout sequence is an early boss fight on a minecart that takes you through a vast tunnel system, forcing you to keep an eye on the cart’s path and adjust the controls to keep everyone alive. Chained Echoes knows when to give the player control and when to take it away, and it never feels like it’s missing a step.
Combat in Chained Echoes is turn-based, with some clever twists that keep it feeling dynamic and interesting. For example, you can only have four characters on the field at once, but each character can be paired with a partner who can tag in with a button press and act on the same turn. This adds a new level of strategy, forcing you to consider who to switch out and how that will affect your team’s synergy. The Ultra Move meter is another fun addition, filling as you give and receive damage, and allowing you to trigger a powerful effect, such as a screen nuke that debuffs the enemy team or a powerful healing spell that also refills everyone’s TP.
A Living World
The exploration aspect of Chained Echoes is where the game truly shines. The vast world of Elonia is filled with various areas to visit, each offering unique environments and creatures to interact with. From the rolling hills of the Green Plains to the towering peaks of the Snowy Mountains, the game world is vast and filled with detail.
One of the standout features of Chained Echoes is the battle system. Battles take place in real-time, allowing players to chain together combos and special abilities in fast-paced combat. The game features a wide range of enemies, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, and attack patterns, and players will need to use strategy and quick reflexes to defeat them. The game also features boss battles, which are even more challenging and require players to think critically about the best ways to defeat the enemy.
The crafting system in Chained Echoes is also noteworthy. Players can gather materials from various areas in the game world and use them to craft weapons, armor, and other items. The crafting system is deep and allows players to create unique items that are tailored to their playstyle. For example, players can create weapons that deal extra damage to specific types of enemies, or armor that provides extra protection against certain elements.
Chained Echoes also has character progression system. As players progress through the game, they will gain experience points and level up their characters. This allows players to increase their stats and unlock new abilities. The game also features a skill tree, allowing players to further customize their characters and specialize in specific playstyles.
The game world of Chained Echoes is rich and immersive, and the soundtrack adds to this atmosphere. The game features an original score, and the music complements the action on the screen and sets the mood for each area in the game. The sound effects are also top-notch, and players will feel the impact of each attack and spell as they battle their way through the world.
The storyline of Chained Echoes is engaging and well-written, with a number of memorable characters. The game features cutscenes that advance the story, and the voice acting is top-notch. The game also features side-quests, which provide players with additional challenges and opportunities to explore the game world. These side-quests are also tied into the main storyline, making them feel more meaningful than in other RPGs.
In conclusion, Chained Echoes is a fantastic RPG that offers an immersive world, an engaging battle system, a deep crafting system, and a character progression system. The game is well-designed and well-executed, and the attention to detail is evident throughout the game. Whether you’re a fan of RPGs or just looking for a great game, Chained Echoes is definitely worth checking out.
**Update: Check out my RimWorld Guide here **