The mid-90s era of JRPGs has always been a point of nostalgia for those who first picked up a controller at this time, and for that reason it remains both a popular period for retro gamers and a nostalgic stylistic choice for indie developers. However, players who are fond of this era and its features often find themselves lacking new games to play. The recent release of the indie game Chain echoes (published by Deck13 Interactive) was lovingly crafted by a solo developer who is also a fan of games like these, and the 2022 title will bring those who love Final Fantasy franchise feels at home.
Chain echoes‘ publisher, Deck13 Interactive, may be familiar to some avid gamers. Formerly known as TriggerLab, the German-based company was acquired by Focus Entertainment in the summer of 2020, and since then has continued to release titles such as The Surge, The Lords of the Fallen, and the upcoming title Atlas Fallen. But, like the last work on the indie title Chain echoes may indicate that the publisher has a well-rounded repertoire. The company also works as a developer, both for some of the games already listed, the popular adventure series Ankh, and the 2013 hack and slash title Blood Knights.
A brand new Old School RPG
A project funded by crowdsourcing has managed to capture the feeling of playing an SNES game for the first time. Chained Echoes perfectly captures the look and feel of a late 90s fantasy RPG, but Final Fantasy and The Legend of Dragoon Fans in particular will find many of the elements they fell in love with over a decade ago in the new title. From its high-concept fantasy scope, its familiar cast of characters, its turn-based plot and musings on the nature of humanity, Chain echoes similar to a familiar fairy tale, but with a completely new story.
Final Fantasy games have always derived some elements of their stories from tales of hubris; Square Enix titles have never been shy about wearing their mythic influences on their sleeves, and Chained Echoes has taken a similar approach. The game includes a sword called Excalibur, as well as characters named Merlin, Agememnon and Ovelia – possibly a play on Ophelia from Hamlet, although the name itself is a direct nod to Final Fantasy Tactics. Protagonist Glenn and his assorted companions are armed with good intentions as they try to stop a war, but inadvertently trigger the end of the world. Equal final fantasy 15, an attempt at peace is instead an inciting event for unprecedented chaos that will endanger more than war ever could.
Chain echoes direct references Final Fantasy, but it also pays tribute in more subtle ways such as the use of symbolism through technology. The airships that carry the game’s heroes may hold promises of peace and a bright future, but they literally cast a huge shadow over the world and those who inhabit it. Additionally, the mech suits known as Sky Armor will immediately strike many players for their superficial resemblance to the machine that initially limits Terra from Final Fantasy 6 while she is under some kind of mind control.
These games set a standard for the fantasy JRPG genre, so matching their quality in the eyes of fans is no easy feat, as many players count Final Fantasy games among their favorites. Known for seamlessly blending the darker elements of the story being told with the often cartoonish exuberant nature of some of their characters, both Final Fantasy and The Legend of Dragoon are still remembered and replayed even in their original forms. Ultimately, this is because of how they managed, and how Chain echoes have managed to weave these elements together perfectly.
Chain echoes is now available for PC, Microsoft Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation 4 and macOS.
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