Some of the key creators behind the beloved Suikoden franchise are attempting to crowdfund a spiritual successor. Today, a new team called Rabbit & Bear Studios announced an upcoming Kickstarter campaign to fund Eiyuden Chronicle, a roleplaying game designed to evoke PlayStation-era nostalgia. The campaign will debut on July 27th, and the team is led by Yoshitaka Murayama, director and writer on the first two Suikoden titles. “This is a new title for me,” Murayama tells The Verge. “Or rather is a combination of all my experiences as a creator and trying to expand on that base.”
Aside from Murayama, Rabbit & Bear features an impressive list of talent. That includes: Junko Kawano, the lead artist on Suikoden 1 and 4; Junichi Murakami, art director on Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow; Suikoden Tactics director Osamu Komuta; and composers Motoi Sakuraba and Michiko Naruke.
“Over the past years the core creators have met up at different events, and of course you talk about the glory days as well as regrets,” Murayama says. “One common thing that always came up was ‘Isn’t it about time we make a game for ourselves? Something we really want to make? Something we can make for the fans?’ And that dream provided the spark for this current project.”
For fans of the Suikoden franchise — which debuted in 1995 but has been dormant for many years — the new game will sound very familiar. Eiyuden Chronicle is described as “an ode to the classic JRPG genre from the PlayStation era that will feature classic JRPG exploration and battles in high-resolution 2.5D graphics” with “a story of war and friendship and a diverse cast of 100 unique heroes.” If the crowdfunding campaign is successful, Eiyuden Chronicle is expected to launch in the fall of 2022 on PC, with other platforms possible depending on stretch goals.
Here’s the basic premise, according to the studio:
Our story begins in one corner of Allraan, a tapestry of nations with diverse cultures and values. By dint of sword, and by way of magical objects known as ”rune-lenses,” the land’s history has been shaped by the alliances and aggressions of the humans, beastmen, elves, and desert people who live there. The Galdean Empire has edged out other nations and discovered a technology that amplifies the rune-lenses’ magic. Now, the Empire is scouring the continent for an artifact that will expand their power even further. It is on one such expedition that Seign Kesling, a young and gifted imperial officer, and Nowa, a boy from a remote village, meet each other and become friends. However, a twist of fate will soon drag them into the fires of war, and force them both to reexamine everything they believe to be right and true.
Of course, even with established creators at the helm, crowdfunded video game projects can go awry. Back in 2017, the creator of PaRappa the Rapper failed to crowdfund a spiritual successor due in part to the extremely early state of the game. Other projects have run into issues around funding and delays. Even with these concerns, Murayama believes a platform like Kickstarter is the best option for this type of game.
“While people have their valid complaints about crowdfunding, it still provides one of the only ways to connect to your core fans,” he says. “Anyone who is passionate enough to invest in a project 2-3 years in advance and have that hope and belief in something is the type of fan that you want to collaborate with. They in turn motive you and can help us get to our dream of making that game we really want to make. It’s hard to say whether people will choose to believe or to just doubt in this day and age, but every person who chooses to have faith in this project, I see as a hero. They are certainly the hero of my personal story.”
That said, it doesn’t sound like the studio has a backup plan in case crowdfunding falls through. When asked what would happen if the Kickstarter campaign failed, Murayama said “Hopefully some rich benefactor will take me in and let me live in their house.”
The Kickstarter campaign will kick off on July 27th and run through August 28th.