‘Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology’ Review: All Wrong, Do It Again

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology Review
out of 5

Radiant Historia is one of those games that has an aura of legend surrounding it. The game first came to the Nintendo DS in 2011, at the end of that system’s life cycle, and most gamers had already moved on to the bigger and better 3DS system. For that reason, players overlooked what many consider one of the best RPGs on the Nintendo handheld. ATLUS has finally rectified that by releasing a new version of the classic game, Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology, which introduces players to an interesting game dynamic that sets this game apart from its peers.

The gimmick in Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology is that the player has control of a special book called the White Chronicle, which allows them to go back at certain points in the game’s story and replay it, taking a different path or making a different choice. Think of it as a choose your own adventure, but if you don’t like the outcome — or the outcome ends the game, which happens — you can get a do over. Over and over until you get it right and can move the narrative forward. This creates a lot of back tracking and seeing the same story bits over and over (more on that in a second), but figuring out the correct combination of decisions throughout the journey makes Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology feel also like a puzzle that needs to be solved in and of itself.

Radiant Historia Review

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology follows the story of a soldier from the kingdom of Alistel named Stocke and his two companions, Raynie and Marco, as well a menagerie of other characters. Alistel is in a war with Granorg, as a terrible sand plague threatens to turn the entire world to uninhabitable desert. Habitable land becomes a commodity, and the two sides fight for control of those ever-shrinking lands. As with most great JRPGs, there is intrigue and betrayals and an underlying plot hidden beneath the war, and the player will get a chance to see it all through the use of the White Chronicle. It’s really what makes Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology such a unique and beloved RPG.

Radiant Historia Review

Another neat feature is the grid-based combat system. Stocke and his party can literally knock enemies around a 3×3, nine square grid, up/down, left/right, back/front, and use certain skills to bash enemies into each other. In fact, there are so many layers to the turn-based combat system that after a rough few battles to open the game, gaining complete mastery over all that you can do in battle will make combat ever evolving and fun, even after the thousandth battle.

Radiant Historia Review

Since this is a remake, Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology also has some brand new content, as well as an all-new game mode for series’ veterans. The story remains basically the same, but how you play and how you get to manipulate the timeline is altered some. This gives the game more life and a new reason for players to return to the world of Vainqueur and to once again participate in the power struggle on the continent between the warring countries.

The art direction and character designs are decidedly old school, as in glorious 16-bit. Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology has the look and feel of SquareSoft classics like Chrono Trigger and Secret of Evermore, which is exciting for fans of classic console JRPGs. The world of swords and mech meshed together is the perfect setting for a game like this, and playing it took me back to those grand days in the 1990s playing any RPG I could get my hands on. Above all else, ATLUS does an amazing job keeping the classic RPG genre alive and well, and that continues here.

Radiant Historia Review

The unfortunate drawback in Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology is that combat and gameplay take a back seat to the game’s staggering narrative. Players can expect to go through HOURS of exposition as the story plays out in conversation after conversation. Even with decent voice acting for all the major players, period of 20 minutes or more of watching/hearing people talk can become mind-numbing. I love JRPGs because I love the grind. I love getting out there and fighting, earning XP and gold and leveling up so future battles are a breeze. But after a few hours of talk-talk-talk, my brain began to wander and my growing love of the game began to wane. That’s not to say that Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology isn’t still a great game, just know going in that you will be watching more than playing for huge portions of the journey.

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology is the perfect chance for players that may have missed the game the first time to come see what they missed. The throwback gameplay and art design, and wonderful music and voice acting help create a time warp back to a simpler time for RPGs. Massive amounts of exposition take away from a unique and multilayered combat system, and the White Chronicle allowing players to go back and try different paths shows why this game has reached near legendary status in the annals of great RPGs. ATLUS has pulled off their own White-Chronicle-like move by giving players a chance to go back and make the right choice by picking this up and giving it a play. Don’t miss it this time and make the same mistake again.

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology is available now for the Nintendo 3DS. ATLUS plans continued support of the game with various forms of DLC, and there is a free theme and demo available in the Nintendo eShop. This review is based off a game code provided by ATLUS.

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