Chained Echoes Review | Ready your weapons and brace yourself for a story-driven JRPG adventure, involving multiple heroes and their stories, as you travel among the many regions of Valandis in a valiant attempt to bring an end to the raging war which takes place between three kingdoms. In Chained Echoes, the journey takes us through a multitude of beautiful landscapes as we are made to fight in a turn-based style using physical and magical offence, defend against varying enemies, and thoroughly explore countless locations for additional loot and quests. Who knows what you might find if you pay close enough attention to your surroundings? Developed by Matthias Linda and published by Deck13 Spotlight, Chained Echoes provides an incredible story of tactical conflict and unexpected friendships as you aim to bring peace to the land but always be on guard as betrayal may present itself when you least expect it.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series S | Review code provided by PR/publisher.
This review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on Twitter!
What we Liked!
- Overdrive gauge | The main characteristic that makes the combat sections enthralling to play is the inclusion of the overdrive gauge. You have to make sure you pay close attention to this as it can make all the difference in whether you succeed or fail in some important battles. There are three sections: amber, green, and red – specifically in that order. You always start in amber which is the neutral area but you’re always aiming to stay in the green and out of the red if possible to increase your chances of victory. This is because by staying in the green, the ‘overdrive’ section, you get bonuses to your damage, take less damage, and use less TP to cast skills. The red, however, will significantly increase the damage you take. Your actions constantly depict your position along the gauge so it’s something you always have to bare in mind.
- Strategic possibilities | Continuing on from the last point, with the proper use of the overdrive gauge and character selection in combat, there were plenty of opportunities to capitalise on the damage output. This is mostly down to using the correct damage type in addition to using buffs and healing. Some enemies have weaknesses and strengths to work with so if you take in all the useful information provided to you and take notes on what the enemies can produce, combat can be extremely enjoyable and tactical instead of just spamming skills and hoping for the best. In addition to this, you should take note of the order of your character’s turns to create the best combinations and use of your choices. There may be four characters in your initial party but you can use everyone if you want/need to.
- Skill points and upgrades | As you naturally progress through Chained Echoes, you will earn experience that will give you skill points to spend on each character to unlock additional action skills, passive skills, and stat boosters. You will also come across a range of gear – whether it’s from exploring, purchasing or upgrading what you already are in possession of that you can equip to characters to boost their stats further. I always found it worthwhile to check out all new gear (weapons, accessories, and armour) as soon as it came into my possession because I wanted my characters to have the best gear possible. Whether you choose to upgrade your current gear with the resources you’ve found or wait for something better to come along, the choice is yours. A small improvement can make all the difference.
- Rewarding exploration | I love to have a good roam around my surroundings in video games and Chained Echoes gave me a chance to do exactly this. Whenever I was introduced to a new area, I would refuse to leave until I had explored every inch and I was wonderfully rewarded with multiple chests, resources, and money most of the time. There can be well-hidden crystal sources that drop crystals you can use on your characters’ gear and secret caves to find what was always worth looking for. I should also mention you can revisit crystal sources over time to get additional crystals should you want to though this isn’t necessary. You can fast-travel to various locations if you want to backtrack and explore as well but I couldn’t resist a good nosey around whenever the opportunity presented itself.
- Reward board and deals | A little feature I found rather unique in Chained Echoes was the reward board which you gain access to a little way into the game. It works in the way that once you complete one of the objectives on the board, you get to claim the reward linked to it. It’s a passive way of gaining skill points, money, and resources/items without going hugely out of your way. With regards to merchants that can be found throughout the game, you can unlock new deals by selling collectables to them. Luckily, there is a loot tab when selling that specifies it’s only useful for selling. By looking at new deals, you can see what requirements are needed to unlock them, check them off, and then purchase them at any time afterwards once they have been fulfilled.
- Captivating graphics | The pixelated-graphic art style was full of detail, quality and beautiful colouring around every little inch of Chained Echoes. It brought the environment to life – the backgrounds were lively, the ground was well-textured, and any extra foliage/buildings I noticed just added to the ambience of each individual area. I don’t tend to be a huge fan of pixelated graphics but I couldn’t imagine the game having the same impact if it looked any different so congratulations to the developers for making such a gorgeous game using a 16-bit style appearance. Even all the characters stood out because of the solid use of colour and accurate detail. Definitely a risk that paid off exceedingly well.
- Great audio | Although there are no voiceovers in Chained Echoes, the sound I heard from both the background music and sound effects was pleasant to listen to and gave the game fantastic character. The battle themes are incredibly upbeat and gave me shivers with how bold they were with the fast-paced rhythm and range of melodies. There are only two battle themes and a separate one for boss battles. But who cares?! They’ve been so brilliantly executed that they don’t get tiresome to listen to. Besides, the main focus should be on the fight but I wouldn’t judge anyone for taking a moment to take in the incredible music that accompanied it – and also when exploring in free roam. Truly harmonious. The majority of skills have their own sound effects that sound clear-cut and exact to what was shown on screen. Another great effort from the developers and another soundtrack that may be added to my gaming playlist.
- Compelling story | I was genuinely interested in the story of Chained Echoes from the very get-go and my oh my, was I right to be. The story starts off very hectic and full of chaos which then explodes into a whole host of action, deception, and heroism. I’m all for a gripping story and that’s exactly what you’ll get within Chained Echoes. Each character brings another side/perspective to the main storyline that did play a major part in its creation and each progresses as it should the further along you get. I don’t want to spoil anything but I think many will be pleasantly surprised by how good the overall story is. A Litte hard to keep up with at times but if you are patient and do your best to take everything in, you should get a pretty accurate idea of what is occurring.
- Difficulty options | If for any reason you find yourself either struggling or finding the game too easy, you might be able to change your settings for a different experience that suits you better. Within the accessibility options menu, you can change the overdrive area size for easier/harder management, enemy stats to make them weaker/stronger, and their aggressiveness that affects how often they attack to match the gameplay experience you want. Although there isn’t a set difficulty level system, I think this is a much better way of implementing just how easy or hard your game will be. It’s always nice to have the option/ability to alter the difficulty settings in video games as we all enjoy them for different reasons and want varying levels of challenging gameplay.
- Character dialogue | The one element that seemed quite hit-or-miss for me was the dialogue between characters within cutscenes. It either just didn’t grab my attention well enough in scenarios or I found it difficult to follow along with what was being spoken about. Damn my poor muscle memory! It did tend to drag on in some instances and it did ruin the pace of the gameplay in places but I understand the developers were only trying to give more description and bulk to the game. I would have preferred easier-to-follow dialogue. However, with each character having their own story to tell and past and present details being relayed, I think this would have been hard to make more concise to read.
What we Disliked
- Nothing I disliked | As Chained Echoes is a game I’m quite fond of and there I didn’t encounter any issues or bugs during my playtime, I can happily say there is nothing I could write about in this section. Woohoo!
How long to beat the story | Approximately 30-35 Hours
How long to achieve 1000G | Approximately 50-60 Hours
You’ll love this game if you like these | Octopath Traveler, Dragon Quest XI S, CrossCode, Cris Tales.
A masterpiece within the JRPG genre that everyone should take the time to enjoy. Did I mention it’s currently on Xbox Games Pass? I can safely say Chained Echoes has been made of many brilliant elements that all come together to create an exceptional gaming experience. It has everything you could possibly want – from combat to exploring, upgrades and story. Certainly a high recommendation from me!
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Hello, I’m Victoria. I’m from the UK and have been playing video games for as long as I can remember; back on DreamCast. I’ve pretty much fallen for Xbox since I was around eight years old and remember BioShock being my first game on the Xbox360. Although I find it thoroughly enjoyable to not only experience gameplay, I also find comfort in getting lost and engrossed in the online worlds that sometimes differ greatly from what we know. Another side of my Xbox passion would be achievement hunting and gamerscore. I thrive when I hear the little sound of one popping up on the screen and I’m always finding ways to work on my backlog when possible. Horror is my favourite genre so if you have any recommendations, don’t be afraid to send them my way!