Chained Echoes | Review | Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: Matthias Linda
  • Publisher: Deck13
  • Release Date: 08/12/2022
  • Price: £22.99 / $24.99
  • Review code provided by Deck13

Introducing: Chained Echoes Review

Might, magic….and Mechs? Yeah, that is how this game was described to me during the initial press releases and I have to say that it worked. It is not too often that JRPG’s include mechs in their design, let alone shoot for a combination of traditional mechanics and incorporating them. So, needless to say, I was intrigued if Chained Echoes could pull it off. So jump into your Sky Armour and join me in the war-driven world of Valandis was we tackle this review of Chained Echoes.

Valandis in Strife

The story of Chained Echoes takes place on the war-riddled continent of Valandis. After a century of war, the three kingdoms that exist on the continent have found peace…or have they? We follow a band of adventures from different walks of life as they set about unraveling a plot to reignite war that grows into a larger scale conflict as the story progresses.

I enjoyed the characterization of the various party members, getting a clear idea of their personality and their motivations. The story itself has quite a few twists that even I didn’t expect. Though I will say that the story, while better written than most, certainly follows a lot of standard JRPG story writing tropes.

Going Against the Grain

Something I wanted to address prior to talking about more combat centric mechanics, is that Chained Echoes does not do traditional leveling. It has a Skill Point system in place instead. Where you gain SP from battles over traditional experience, and use those points to speed up the leveling of various skills.

If you want to learn new skills and other stat boosts and passive abilities, you will have to earn Grimoire Shards. These are easily obtained through defeating bosses along the main game route, though there are additional bosses hidden around to find that will yield additional shards for your efforts, among other rewards.

Overdrive Overflow

The central combat addition to Chained Echoes, over your tradition JRPG styled combat, is the introduction of an Overdrive system. This is a gauge that is manipulated based on what happens in the battle. This system provides buffs if kept in the green zone, such as damage taken reduction, TP skill cost reductions, and increased damage on enemies. The reverse if found in the red zone is also true, increased damage taken and increased TP skill costs.

While the battles in Chained Echoes can be easy, it is very easy to mismanage that system if you don’t have balanced skill builds across your characters. One of the best ways to reduce the Gauge is to use a skill of the desired type indicated next to the bar. This management made battles more engaging and did have a significant impact on the difficulty of battles, especially boss battles.

What a Party

Another change to the genre that Chained Echoes has brought with it is the introduction of Party members on stand by and being able to just switch to them mid-combat. Switching Party members like that is not new, essentially, Chained Echoes does things a little different.

Party members that switch into combat may act immediately. It was so refreshing to be able to plan out Party formation based on the fact that I could swap in freely and act depending on what I need.

This also helps my favorite character in the game, a goat man named Thomas. He scaled differently to other characters, due to story reasons, and actually eats animals in order to remember skills. While he has high stats, he is not too useful at first until you get him to learn some skills, so being able to freely swap into him after weakening enemies with the rest of the party helped bring out his full potential in the long run.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

While I mentioned earlier that there is no traditional leveling system, and the only way to get permanent stat increases is by unlocking stat boosts in the skill menu or getting them every so often from unlocking a certain number of skills, the importance of keeping up on equipment is certainly present.

If you explore new areas you will find the gear you need to be on par with challenges, but there is more to do with equipment than just equipping the newest piece of gear.

Various Forms of Upgrade

Outside of the standard equipment upgrading system we see in most games, there is also a crystal imbibing system within Chained Echoes that can modify your gear with different effects to give you that extra edge in battle.

That being said, I didn’t find much use for these crystals during my playthrough outside of tackling some harder hidden enemies. As you swap equipment so often that it just felt more like a pain to constantly swap crystals around than it was worth.

Take to the Skies

Time to talk about the mechs, called Sky Armours, and how they influence Chained Echoes. Being able to fly around most fields, sometimes after shutting down some anti-air cannons, leads to the discovery of many hidden areas and treasures. Though my favorite part was going back to fight enemies that gave me trouble prior and just demolishing them.

Yes, you can fight inside the Sky Armours and some fights can only really be handled with them, or by breaking the game systems to make busted characters, but this is easier. Instead of learning skills, your four pilots gain gear proficiency by fighting in Sky Armour and those proficiency increases grant stat increases and new skills for those weapon types. There is plenty of challenge to be had once you unlock the use of Sky Armours so going back and exploring former areas is very encouraged.

The Rewards Board

Chained Echoes sure loves rewarding you for playing the game and tackling different things. This is done in the form of The Rewards Board, which will have various goals such as killing a certain number of creatures, to finding all of the treasure chests in an area, or even doing unique things like having an all female party win a co.bat in that area. 

This set of side objectives actually helps to promote explorations, giving you more Grimoire Shards, sacred water to tackle Class Emblem challenges, and give you plenty of money and upgrade materials to help you progress through the game.

Some Minor Bugs

I did encounter some minor bugs while playing. An audio cut here or there that was solved by a map reload, or, and this one is more glaring, a failure to load a cut scene after I was supposed to leave an enemy airship in a Sky Armour, causing me to have to restart the game. (Though thanks to the auto-save feature I lost no progress.)

While these were issues I encountered during my time, I don’t believe them indicative of the whole experience and will most likely be fixed in the future, if not already at time of writing.

Final Thoughts

Chained Echoes is a fantastic JRPG and certainly a must play for fans of the genre. It has an intriguing story with fleshed out characters. The combat is engaging and fleshing. And the game truly makes exploration of its world rewarding. I wholeheartedly recommend Chained Echoes.

Pros:

  • Interesting characters
  • Overdrive System
  • Mechs

Cons:

  • Story is kind of generic
  • Lots of interlinking systems, could be confusing for players new to JRPG’s

Verdict
Chained Echoes is a fantastic journey with secrets abound. It is a must play for any JRPG fan.

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