Chained Echoes Gamescom 2020 Impressions

Chained Echoes is a SNES 16bit inspired JRPG set in a fantasy world where dragons are as common as piloted mechanical suits. I had the pleasure of playing the demo available by the developer for Gamescom 2020 and I really enjoyed what I saw. Mind you, this is a pre-Alpha demo that will be up for a couple of days more, since the release of the full game is at least a year away and it doesn’t represent the final quality of the game.

This demo exists to show the visual style and mainly the mechanics of the game. I am guessing that the main characters will also be there in the final version but the story will be completely different. I did get a very good idea of what is happening and how mechanics work. Chained Echoes is a traditional JRPG so if you played the old Final Fantasy games, Suikoden or even Octopath Traveler, you know what’s up.

The visual style reminded me of the RPG Maker games but a closer look will show that every asset seems handcrafted, plus on the presskit the dev mentions that it’s being developed on Unity. I am a sucker for pixel art and old school games (I grew up with Master System and Mega Drive) so as far as the art goes, the game hits a soft spot in my heart. The music is also something you could hear in these old games, so the general direction is on point.

Checking the menu during play one can see that there’s some detailed work going on. You can have different kinds of items to use, sell or craft and the skill and equipment system seems like it’ll be complex. Nothing works at the moment, but it’s there and if you have some experience with JRPG’s, you can imagine how it will function in the end. What works is the teams system where you can link two characters together and interchange between them during battles. Say your paladin buffed your fighters already, bring your healer in and boost their health. It seems that there will be at least eight playable characters to build your party.

This system reminds me very much of Final Fantasy X, where you could bring whoever you wanted to the fray during battle. Another system that also seems inspired by that game is that you can see which character or enemy will make a move next. That way you can strategize depending on where everyone stands on the turn. So, if you knew that many enemies would be attacking one after another, you could try defending to mimimize the damage.

One of the most important mechanics of the game though is the overdrive bar. Depending on what moves you do, this bar fills up until it reaches the green area. At that point, your attacks and skill moves do more damage. Your goal is to keep your characters in overdrive for as long as possible. The thing is that if you spam the same moves, you will go beyond the green bar and reach the red one, where your characters are burned out. There are ways to keep your characters in the green, detailed by the developer in game. Personally I think that this will give another strategic option to the players and it is indeed a pretty cool mechanic.

There is a big possibility that everything I wrote about the game and the mechanics will change in the future, something that the dev also warns. In my opinion though the mechanics that are there work perfectly fine and have the possibility to make the gameplay very interesting. I hope that they will be polished when the final version releases, at least a year from now and more importantly, that there will be a gripping story that will make me want to finish the game. Don’t forget that we are talking about a JRPG and if it’s something that makes these games memorable, that’s the story.

I would say go and try the demo just to get an idea for yourself. It will only stay up for a week so if you miss it now, who knows when you’ll have the chance to play it again.

Watch the trailer here

Wishlist the game on Steam and download the demo here

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