By Drew D. / March 6th, 2020
|Title||Eredia: The Diary of Heroes|
|Release Date||April 13th, 2018|
|Genre||Open World RPG|
Eredia: The Diary of Heroes, a traditional RPG at first glance, is far more, one which attempts to take the classic elements of the genre and create something truly outstanding. The first game in a developing series, Eredia succeeds in establishing an intriguing history, as well as laying the foundation for a genuinely immersive story. With deep, mysterious lore, gameplay that strays away from the standards, and a memorable cast of characters whose personal ambitions tie together and blossom into an ever evolving destiny, Eredia: The Diary of Heroes possesses all of the makings of a true epic.
Eredia is set in the once peaceful fantasy world of Arlis. The many races of this realm, including the fledgling human race, coexisted, for they knew nothing of violence or hate. Yet, brutality and bloodshed are introduced by an unknown entity four-hundred years prior to our adventure’s start. And from this historic cataclysm, Arlis and its history have since been seeped in war, intolerance, and mercilessness.
A world driven by selfish ambition, animosity, and greed, yet a single realm amongst many, all intertwined, influencing each other. And so, Eredia: The Diary of Heroes begins the story of Kenrad Krauser, a young hunter ready to prove himself in this harsh reality. Believing what awaits him is a self-serving, straightforward life full of fame, riches, and women, it would seem destiny has other plans for our cocky, unaware hero, for he will become the catalyst that changes the course of Arlis, its peoples, and perhaps the fates of all the realms in existence.
Right from the start of the game, several major plotlines begin, throwing players into what will become a deep and intriguing story. Before Kenrad even shows up, we are witness to a prologue that reveals the return of the malevolent entity from four-hundred years prior. Then, it’s introduced that Aegea, the continental empire in which this game takes place, is at war with a neighboring empire. Later still, the demon-led Cult of Sargoth, affiliated with the realm of Hell, is supposedly attempting to overthrow Arlis. And finally there is Aika, a mysterious woman who was born inheriting a demon’s powers and is currently wreaking havoc across Aegea as her powers continuously increase.
Although the game develops several plotlines in tandem, some of which are for setting up future games, it does so remarkably well through its ability to intertwine and tie together these multiple major and minor storylines. This is where Eredia: The Diary of Heroes truly shines brightest, as it manages to introduce, build, and keep relevant the many storylines in a convincing way that adds to the immersion of the overall experience. The Cult of Sargoth story arc is the plotline we spend the most time with in this title, yet it also serves as the vehicle in which we see how Aegea and its people are impacted by the lack of care by a hawkish empire whose only concern is war and conquest. This direct tie-in with the war plotline bolsters both, reminding players that war impacts all, having consequences in places other than the front lines. The Cult is able to get as far as they do mainly because they go unchallenged by an empire whose attention is elsewhere. This, in turn, fosters the need for mercenaries and hunters, such as Kenrad, which provides the framework for his personal journey. The Aika plotline also has several tie-ins, bringing forth a number of characters that have history with or who influence Kenrad’s growth during his quest. It also serves to develop said characters and adds personal, concise points of view within the vast, overarching plotlines.
Not all of the plotlines are treated equally, however. Many of them serve as devices to move the more central plotlines along or, again, only serve as set-up for later games. We are made aware that this unknown four-hundred year old entity has returned, but other than the prologue, we don’t see much else; maybe a hint or two sprinkled throughout the 50+ hour campaign. As for the ongoing war, it’s mostly used as a device of explaining why certain events are taking place or why there is such dilapidation in this supposedly great empire. Also, the rather vague reason of the war, an emperor’s simple thirst for conquest, is weak at best. I’m hoping there is a far deeper story behind the war itself in future installments. Finally, there is the title, The Diary of Heroes, for only late in the game do we learn of the Diary of Heroes and its potential significance in regards to that four-hundred year old threat. Overall, I would have liked more buildup in these mentioned storylines given their significance within this budding series, but I will admit that what is provided is more than enough for me to remain intrigued for the next game.
Equally impressive as the story are the characters in Eredia: The Diary of Heroes. Every major character possesses distinct personality, which is an impressive feat given the number. A few examples; Kenrad is the typical cocky jerk, Elric is the intelligent tactician with a love for monologue, and Rurouna is the adorable, naive sheltered girl. Each is well written with unique voice and style through variations in diction and use of slang, convincingly individualizing their personalities. I also love the banter between characters, further conveying individuality while also showing off the strength of the overall narrative. Elric is often the victim of Kenrad’s jokes and insults, playing up Kenrad’s ass-like qualities while furthering Elric’s style for patience and wit when he makes a solid comeback. The banter between characters also serves to add depth to them, revealing background stories, personal ambitions, and purpose for endeavoring through this quest. Every character stands out, a poignant element in such a grand game. And finally, the dialogue is pretty damn funny. Quick jabs, collective roasting, and oodles of snark, all add to both the quality of the characters and the charm of the overall narrative.
Unfortunately, the characters and their implementation in the game’s story do possess their flaws. For one, there is a minimal amount of genuine development or growth by the characters. Whether it’s their thinking, their personalities or their interactions, there is a notable lack of evolution. This is especially evident given that this game can easily span over 50+ hours. My biggest gripe in this regard is Kenrad, for he remains the arrogant prick he starts as. It’s a shame due to how difficult it is to want to invest in such a character emotionally. There were many times throughout my play in which I felt he would have made a far better side-character or even a nameless villain. Had there been any shred of development to his personality, then I could see myself tolerating his rough, sometimes jarring nature, but only as it transformed. However, from start to end, he’s just an unpleasant twit. Rurouno, Sharina, and others fare better in regards to coming to care for them on an emotional level, but they too hardly grow or evolve throughout the campaign. I realize this is the first game in a series and perhaps we will see that evolution later, but I would have loved to have seen just a few hints of development here. By in-game time, the campaign could take anywhere from several months to a year, so I did expect some degree of change given the implied length of this journey. Again, I am highly impressed with the base characterizations of most of the cast, but I wish it hadn’t stopped there.
Moving on to gameplay, Eredia: The Diary of Heroes features a traditional RPG framework with a few touches of innovation and tons to do. The core of the game is the completion of the main storyline quests revolving around the Cult of Sargoth. This means becoming strong enough to hunt down demons and the tougher enemies of the game. There are also a number of other main quests pertaining to the other plotlines as well as a myriad of side quests available. These side quests come in the form of contracts that are posted in most towns and from the major guilds that can be joined. As for these the guilds, more difficult contracts become available as your rank within them increases. Although most of these side quests are based on the typical fetching of items or defeating one or several enemies, some have their own miniature plots and may revolve around conducting an investigation. Searching for clues in houses, finding and talking to the right individuals and then finally making an accusation are the makeup of these particular side quests.
Regarding these quests, the main quests are intriguing due to their direct ties to the story and so they have the support of the narrative. The side quests, however, are a poor example of quantity over quality. Too many of these are what you would find in most other lazily designed RPGs, in that to complete them, you either hunt enemies or items. It’s the same tired, overused method of adding bulk to gameplay. I will say I very much enjoyed the investigative side quests. Even if they were completely irrelevant to the main plotlines, they had just enough substance and strayed from the normal RPG formula for me to appreciate them. My hope is that we see more of these types of quests in later games because their quality far outshines the handfuls of defeat and fetch quests.
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