Review: Rise Eterna
By: Fernando Da Costa
Developer: Makee, Forever Entertainment S.A.
Publisher: Forever Entertainment S.A.
Available on: Nintendo Switch, PC
Review Console: Nintendo Switch Lite
TACTICAL PROWESS! (Introduction)
The Strategy Role-Playing genre has always proven a rather problematic affair for me. I wouldn’t say that I’m outright horrible, but I could certainly improve. Nevertheless, that never kept me from enjoying a fun little romp with classics like Fire Emblem or Disgaea. Rise Eterna won’t impress you with innovation, nor will it stand out due to unbridled uniqueness. It’s simple and never demands much thought be put into your movements. This is essentially the checkers of the SRPG world. Regardless, I don’t regret the 18 hours that I sunk into this game - do note this also includes grinding. It’s assuredly a compact experience, and I was a fan of that because my time was respected. The money question is: does size matter in terms of satisfying the gamer tooth? Let’s find out!
DEATH EVERYWHERE! (Story Synopsis)
Rise Eterna tells a story of a rebellion composed of ragtag individuals with a common goal. It begins with Natheal, a mercenary that’s aligned himself with bandits. As they plan to pillage a village, he chooses against it, remaining behind as a lookout. As the day grows older and dusk falls, he’s still alone with no sign of those that hired him. Curious, Natheal ventures to the small dwelling and finds a surprising sight. Bodies lay motionless with a lone girl clutching her face in the midst of it all - a bloody sword in front of her.
This tells a narrative of the once peaceful Ars Rare Kingdom after being invaded by The Athracian Empire. Their hostile takeover brought with it bandits and soldiers that oftentimes caused a mess of turmoil for the natives of the land. We follow Netheal and Lua - the lone girl from the village - as she seeks out an old man named Seevan. Along the way, they’ll meet familiars, new faces, and even find a new goal - to locate her sisters. What was once a journey of vengeance quickly comes with massive ramifications on Ars Rare and its inhabitants.
A MERCENARY AND A GIRL (Writing)
Potential - I use that word consistently in my reviews to describe titles with all the necessary tools needed to craft a well-put-together world. Rise Eterna meets that definition with an interesting plotline that is never fully realized. It comes across as raw materials meant to construct a sturdy foundation but fails to do so. Don’t get me wrong; I didn’t mind the story that it's trying to tell but note that it has textbook fantasy tropes. To be frank, as I played, every twist was telegraphed. It never dared to take any risks, and there were many moments that the dialogue felt rushed - as if it was only trying to hit particular beats. Rise Eterna wasn’t given room to breathe, and that hurt the overall quality. Never to the degree of being deemed terrible, but it could’ve been better. If it were ironed out and fleshed further, there’s no doubt this section would be different.
My main complaint is that the bulk of the story is told through blurbs in between the chapters. Doing it this way meant nothing was explored. I wanted to bear witness to the hardships and death it depicted. I yearned for it to delve deeper into the invasion and the struggles of those within the Ars Rare Kingdom. Another hiccup is that the villagers you meet are one-dimensional. While their attitudes wouldn’t be bizarre to find in such a situation, they would be more varied - hostility, fear, and sadness. As it is, the former is a wide blanket stretched out over its NPCs with very little room for diversity.
Speaking of characters, there’s an innate effort put into injecting personality into the playable ones. In fact, I genuinely chuckled at one of the exchanges, with smirks freely given elsewhere. Lua is cold and full of sass from the beginning. As the game progresses, we witness her defences crumble and fear burst into the forefront. Unfortunately, it never gets past surface-level character building, which is a shame. Still, I liked her and especially loved her interactions with Natheal. Their conversations were filled with sarcastic jabs and banter. Without a doubt, the relationship these two share received the most development, albeit still to quite a minuscule extent. The others are a mixed bag of good, bad, and awfully executed. Good is the flirtatious, innuendo-laden girl with a mysterious aura surrounding her. While her musings aren’t outright hilarious, the perverse advances anchored down realism to this world. Bad was the reveal of her purpose, which fell flat on its face. Ugly was how flaccid the penultimate twist was. All of this was a direct result of the aforementioned sporadically fleshed-out details and characters.
IT’S YOUR MOVE, NATHEAL! (Gameplay)
Perma-Death isn’t something I go out of my way to implement into my Fire Emblem sessions. I dread it because I often make terrible decisions that result in untimely deaths. My uncanny ability to miscalculate my positioning is frankly impressive. Fortunately, Rise Eterna is entirely without it. This game is simple, never demands much, and is extremely forgiving. For these reasons, I reckon this is the ideal starter Strategy Role-playing game.
A topic that garners a lot of discussion is that of grinding. Several people are against it and deem it a wasteful and bad design. I grew up in the old days when games were short, and grinding was added to prolong the adventure. Old habits tend to die hard, and while Rise Eterna does have it, it’s applied in another way. Characters are unable to gain levels, meaning that experience points are nonexistent. In its place are jewels; these are presented in various colours and grant respective upgrades. For instance, red focuses on attack, blue on defence, yellow on agility, and greenish-yellow on health. To acquire these, they are found in varying qualities on the battle maps, either in chests or blue spots. If a perfect ranked jewel is obtained, it’ll have an added stat boost in addition to the colour-specific one. My biggest qualm is how rare the optimal gems are. There’s an overabundance of the lowest tier available, and while those can be transmuted into random crafting materials, being able to combine them would have been great.
Another reason to grind is to obtain points for the skill trees. Running through maps again once you’ve completed them for story purposes will net you a single one. Do note that the characters to benefit must be in your active party. They are unlocked as the journey progresses, meaning that it’s possible to replay levels several times. In this way, there’s a real possibility that tedium will rear its ugly head. Thankfully, the battles themselves are short, sometimes taking five minutes to beat. Of course, this is dependent on present strength, but even then, it never took an absurd amount of time. The major reason for this is how the enemies maneuver. In most SRPGs, the game cycles through everyone on the field, even if they’re not moving. Rise Eterna does it differently, having only those within close proximity do so. It limits the amount of enemy turns I had to sit through before I could move again.
What is probably the biggest reason to replay maps is the chance of running into a brand new character. It’s not every level, and luckily, they unlocked immediately upon revisiting the area. So there was never an element of RNG, meaning I didn’t have to cross my fingers and hope for the best. Because I’d be returning to hoard skill points anyway, I never felt it was a big waste of time - at least not as much as locating jewels. If you’re thinking about not revisiting areas, I’d suggest against it. The only viable method of getting stronger is built around backtracking. Not doing so could make the later levels more difficult without those buffs.
SWIFTLY DODGING STRIKES! (Performance)
With graphics resembling a PlayStation 2 title, one would expect there to be no issues. Regrettably, the truth is contrary to expectation, with a few oddities present. The battle animations themselves were smooth with no sign of stutters. Every swipe was seamless and quick, but when it came to transitions, Rise Eterna struggled. After battles, you’re normally thrust back into the map screen. The issue is, however, that this could take a couple of seconds. There were a few times I thought that maybe the game had locked up on me. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, and in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that egregious. As long as one keeps in mind that this will happen, then it doesn’t become overly bothersome.
While on the topic of locking up, I did stumble on an instance of it. Keep in mind that it’s very specific in what needs to occur to trigger. Essentially, enemies can counterattack, and if, when done, it kills your character, the problem arises. It seems Rise Eterna won’t register that an ally perished. When I experienced it, my dead comrade had their turn as normal. Because however, there was no sprite; I couldn’t input a command. The turn just hung there, and I was left with no other choice but to reset. Luckily, the game is like me in that it obsessively saves, so I never lost substantial progress.
TURN IT UP! (Sound Design)
Given the sass and some lines just begging for cadence, not having voice acting hurt Rise Eterna. The music is already not very memorable, sporting a rather generic RPG soundtrack. So having something else to help it stand amidst the crowded eShop would’ve helped. As is, I can’t say I was impressed with what it offered and even began listening to Podcasts while hunting gems. That already says enough, and even though there’s nothing inherently wrong with what’s here, the main point is it doesn’t uniquely present itself.
AND THE VERDICT IS…
Rise Eterna is, without a shadow of a doubt, the perfect SRPG for beginners. Any bad decisions made during battle are never harshly punished. This afforded me - a mediocre player - to have fun and never feel discouraged by my dumb moves. I’d wager to say that this game is much more forgiving than it is challenging. I was, however, let down by the fear to take risks and take the story in intriguing directions. The narrative plays it too safe, and emotional moments lacked hefty weight. Still, there was something addictive about finding gems, but I do wish Makee did more with it. I would have loved to fuse some together to create better versions. As is, the mechanic felt half-baked. This did strike me as the start of a possible franchise, and I’d be interested in seeing where it could go.
There are missteps, and there are good points but nothing to help Rise Eterna stand out. If I were rating it by number, this would get a solid six. Otherwise, I say wait for a minor sale before diving in.
Many thanks to publisher Forever Entertainment S.A. for providing a code for the purposes of this review.