Radiant Historia Perfect Chronology Near Perfect
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Publisher: Atlus USA
ESRB Rating: T
Thank You Atlus USA for a Review Copy of this Game
Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology is a remake of the DS classic Radiant Historia. However, Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology has a much higher production value with fully animated cutscenes, full voice acting, quality of life changes and an entire new timeline to explore. The original release of this game was critically acclaimed by critics and players alike, so now we need to ask: how does this remake still hold up as one of the classics in the history of the JRPG genre?
The story of Radiant Historia is an interesting one for sure. You play as a special intelligence agent, Stocke, during an ongoing war. Sadly, during one of your missions, you fail and your squad gets wiped out. After nearly dying in your escape, you wake up in Historia and are given a chance to go back in time to correct the mistakes you’ve made in the past, so that you can lead your squad to victory this time. It is from here that you learn that you have the ability to travel back to pivotal moments in your timeline and change the outcome to acquire the true history.
The writing in this game is phenomenal. It could just be that I really enjoy near dystopian war stories in video games, but I can see why some would say that this game’s story is a classic. At first I didn’t know if I would like Stocke or his troop, but I quickly grew to love each and everyone of them. Even the villains were intriguing.
However what makes this game’s story stand out is the ability to jump across multiple timelines through the White Chronicle. For instance, you may be going through one timeline and run into a roadblock. The informant you were waiting for was unable to reach you due to being caved in at the mine. So now you must go to the other timeline in which you and your troupe are at the mine to ensure he is able to safely make his way through, allowing for a ripple effect of him making it in the other timeline. This jumping back and forth allows you to experience the game’s story from two different perspectives, and actually helps you fill in the blanks for some story elements you may have missed in the other timeline. You would think this would create a pacing issue, but honestly it just enriches the plot and character development, which was a pleasant surprise.
The final story aspect I want to talk about is the inclusion of a third timeline: The What If timeline. Here you meet a new character named Nemesia, and you are tasked with finding artifacts across the various timelines, the multiverse if you will. These timelines are pretty much what the name implies, they take an event you have already done in the story and add some changes to them. Characters may have role reversals or the order of events may happen differently.Your goal here is to just get the artifacts. This third timeline more or less acts like a side route to everything going on, and it integrates into the main story very well. You’ll be notified when Nemesia needs your help again and you can choose whether or not you want to help her.
The best part about this new timeline is that it’s completely optional. At the start of the game you have the choice to pick between Append Mode and Perfect Mode. This allows newer players to play the game normally without this added story content if they never played the original game. With New Game+ the new story content goes a long way in adding replay value to the overall game.
The gameplay of Radiant Historia is a different spin on the turnbased JRPG formula. Outside of managing three different timelines, you will be exploring this world by going to different locations across the country. Each location it of itself can be seen as a dungeon to explore as you try and go from town to town. In a lot of these “dungeons” you will be solving field puzzles and fighting your way through many different enemies. This is where the game comes to shine the most in its combat system.
Radiant Historia’s combat system is turnbased, but not only do you have to worry about who will be attacking next, you will have to worry about where the enemies are at on this games grid system. You fight enemies on a 3×3 field, and each part of the field can give the enemies different advantages and disadvantages. To combat this you have special abilities that will knock enemies around the field. This is where the fun comes in, as this game has a combo system. If you manage to knock a bunch of enemies into each other, you are able to attack multiple enemies at once, and doing this will increase your combos.The more combos you are able to perform the more experience you get at the end of every battle. Due to this system I would always try my best to rack up the combos in fights. The many different ways you can go about this with the games combat system made it a lot of fun.
Also new to this game in terms of combat is the support system. At any given time you are only allowed three party members out on the field; with that said, your reserve units won’t just sit idly by this time. Now they will sometimes get in on the action at random points based on how many combos you are putting out, to help attack enemies, these attacks will also contribute to your combos giving you a much bigger payout.
Keeping on track with what else is new to this game… Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology includes an entire new dungeon called the Vault of Time, here you have the ability to fight monsters till your heart’s content. You will often find monsters here you haven’t fought in the main story yet. This means that you can get good practice of fighting creatures that are to come, and figure out the best strategies when combating them. However, you should be careful, as the further you go, the more dangerous the foes get. When you finish fighting here you earn currency called Mementos which allow you to purchase items that will aid you in the main story. So coming here often to train is worth it.
Sadly not everything is peachy in the gameplay department. There is an inherent issue with the HP and MP management system in the game early on. When you time travel across the different histories, your HP and MP remains constant. So if you barely escaped death in one history and move to the next your HP will remain the same. This becomes a constant chore of HP and MP management as there are no easy ways to restore your health after big fights. You have to use mana crystals for full restores in Historia, and these crystals can run for about 5000 gold each. This becomes remedied as you unlock more towns that have inns in them, but you will not always have the chance to get to them when out in the field, so this may be an issue for players early on trying to make progress in the main story.
Another slight issue I had was with the pre-emptive attacks in combat. You have the ability to swing your sword on the field to stun enemies and then run into them from behind to get a surprise attack. What may be the behind for one enemy may not be the behind for all. As there were many times I thought I clearly struck from behind but the game did not register it as such, ruining any advantage I thought I had in any fight.
Outside of those two issues, the gameplay and combat of this game are really enjoyable. Thanks to the stun mechanic you have a very easy way to avoid fights you don’t want to take part in, and even then, the combat is fun and innovative enough that grinding feels more like practicing how to get higher combos in a chain to get more experience at the end of a battle. However I think where this game excels the most at is its presentation.
The one thing that makes this game stand out to me is the games presentation. While on paper the games graphics may not look like anything spectacular, the games atmosphere that it manages to convey with this art style is breathtaking at times. The game at all times manages to convey feelings such as being at war; this is mostly due to it making me feel uneasy as the story progresses through how the events are told. What adds more to this is the game’s soundtrack. Each track is fantastic and fits every mood perfectly. It really drives the atmosphere and tone of the game home, and I absolutely love it.
Sticking onto the presentation of this game, the voice acting for this game is absolutely fantastic. While there is no option to use Japanese voices, the English cast in this game manages to deliver every character’s lines perfectly. Which is impressive because this is a fully voiced game. Outside of the random side NPC, every major character is voiced and all of their time on screen is voiced. The colourful cast of this game really enhances the story, and they make every performance believable and heartfelt. The presentation of this game really wraps everything up together neatly in a fantastic package.
At the end of the day, Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology is a fantastic remake of the original DS game. With the added quality of life changes, new story inclusions and allowing the player to choose whether or not they want to experience more of it, you have a classic game that anyone with a 3DS should go out and try. I can recommend this game to JRPG fans looking for their next JRPG itch, as well as fans of the original. While it’s not perfect, Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology will continue to radiate through history.