Chained Echoes Review – The Chains That Bind Us

Chained Echoes Review – The Chains That Bind Us

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Xbox Series, Xbox One, Sony PlayStation 4, Sony PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Steam

Game Name: Chained Echoes

Publisher: Deck13

Developer: Matthias Linda

Genre: RPG

Release Date: December 8th, 2022

ESRB Rating: M For Mature

Chained Echoes by Matthias Linda

We talk a lot in games media about games that redefine genres. I myself have waxed poetic about how games like TUNIC take the classics and innovate on them, paving new ground for audiences old and new. However, sometimes a game comes along that reminds you that the classics are classic for a reason and that while innovation is great, sometimes iteration can be just as impressive.

Chained Echoes, a traditional turn-based JRPG that draws heavy influences from genre staples like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI, is one such game.

Unchain My Soul

Chained Echoes’ story is about as typical as JRPGs get. You play a rag-tag band of unlikely heroes trying to save the world while also dealing with their troubled pasts. Some of you are probably rolling your eyes, but I can assure you that the way the game unfolds is thrilling. Characters are well-defined, plot twists are plentiful (and often genuinely surprising), and the story is told with a sense of maturity that belies its colorful aesthetic.

However, where the game truly shines is its exploration and battle system. The world of Chained Echoes is impressively vast and filled with secrets. Many of its areas require you to return well after the story has led you elsewhere in order to find everything, and doing so is genuinely fun.

Meanwhile, the battle system brings a shot in the arm to typical turn-based combat. As both your characters and enemies perform actions, an “Overdrive” meter fills up at the top of the screen. While in Overdrive, your characters hit harder and take less damage. However, fill it too far and you Overheat, causing the reverse to happen. The meter can be reduced by performing types of skills indicated beside it (attack skills, magic, buffs, etc.), meaning every choice you make in combat has additional weight to it.

Chains of Power

These factors all contribute to creating a game that’s familiar but never dull. New conditions are often thrown into boss battles that force you to change up your strategies even further. A particular highlight is a boss fought on a speeding mine car, with your characters needing to change the direction of the tracks or face instant death. Oh, and you eventually get flying mech suits that are used for both battle and exploration. It’s as rad as it sounds.

This isn’t to say that Chained Echoes is without flaws. Far from it. As good as its core systems are, some of its extra ones, such as upgrading skills or fusing ability gems, feel undercooked. Its translation into English also leaves a bit to be desired.

Still, these are ultimately nitpicks compared to the legitimately impressive effort on display here, which is to say nothing about the fact that it was primarily made by one person, or that composer Eddie Marianukroh’s soundtrack is fantastic. I’m actually listening to it as I write this review.

Chained Echoes is a reminder of what makes classic JRPGs great. Made with loving reverence for the genre but with its own unique flourishes to make it stand well on its own, it’s an essential purchase for any fans of the genre, new and old alike.

Chained Echoes is available via the Nintendo Game Store, Sony PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store, Steam, and GOG.

Watch the trailer for Chained Echoes below:

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