Hello all! Last week's game brought us to a sort of unrealistic, but fun operating room.
Today, we remain on the DS. And another Atlus game, in fact. Today's game is one of my favorites, because it's pretty different.
Radiant Historia first presents itself as a pretty standard JRPG. The main character is named Stocke, for Pete's sake. Anyway, RH tells a tale of war between Alistel and Granorg. Nothing new here, really.
It's when Stocke is heavily wounded early on that the tale takes a hard left turn.
Stocke awakens in Historia, a world outside the fabric of time and space. Two mysterious twins give Stocke the power to travel through time with a book known as the White Chronicle. Which you'll be making heavy use of throughout the lengthy adventure.
RH plays much like a standard old-school JRPG, the likes of which you'd see on Super Nintendo. Perhaps that's why it's a favorite of mine. Anyway, throughout the game, you explore towns, read through dialogue and fight in turn-based battles, the last of which utilize a solid if basic battle system.
Turns are arranged in order much like Final Fantasy X, so you can see who goes when, and plan accordingly. The one wrinkle I like about the battle system is the grid formation enemies occupy. By using special moves that push enemies around this grid, you can effectively "stack" enemies on top of each other, so that the next character in your party can then attack them both with one move. It makes you take into consideration enemy position and turn order. In other words, it turns your brain on, and makes you pay attention to each battle. Thankfully, battles are not random and there's typically not a lot of enemies per screen, so the battles don't overwhelm the game.
It's the time travel that dominates the game, and it's the main reason you should play.
After receiving the White Chronicle, you can jump freely through specific moments in the story, represented as nodes on a timeline. Quite early, you'll notice the timeline not only splits into two, but actually ends at certain points. These are points where the story ended badly, such as Alistel being overrun, or certain characters dying.
This is where choice comes in. See, I'm a big fan of BioWare. I enjoy Mass Effect, Dragon Age, KOTOR, etc. Hell, even Jade Empire was pretty good. But, while choices in those games had consequences, the vast majority of them never seemed to have much of an effect on the overall story. Look at Mass Effect, for example. You can bend the story, but the endings aren't severely different. It becomes more about how much of a jerk Shepard was throughout.
Now, in Radiant Historia, of course, you can travel through time and undo whatever you've done. But each choice you make has far-reaching consequences regardless. Lots of them lead to the end of the world, or some such thing. Though Radiant's choices are always binary, each has to be carefully considered, or else you'll have to go back and figure out what went wrong.
Adding to the complexity is the fact that you'll sometimes have to go through less "optimal" timelines in order to acquire skills you need for the "main" timeline. Not to mention the Alternate History you'll have to play through alongside the Standard History in order to get the True Ending. Phew.
Thankfully, the game looks great while you're trying to make sense of all this. It's got a definite SNES feel, and there's nothing wrong with that. There's a strong art style throughout; it's very much anime, but there's a subtle European influence on it as well. Think Dragon's Crown, a little.
And the music is perfect. That's Yoko Shimomura as the composer; she composed the music for Street Fighter II, Final Fight, Kingdom Hearts, and Super Mario RPG, to name a few. If, somehow, you can find a copy of Radiant Historia with the soundtrack, pick it up. Sadly, I missed out on that copy.
So, here's hoping for a 3DS/WiiU re-release, as the game's been quite tricky to track down these days. Still, grab a copy if you spot it. It's one of the most unique JRPG's out there.
Thanks for reading! Throw some comments and future Game of The Week suggestions my way! (I'll credit you in the article!) And Tweet me, if you're into that sort of thing, at @WingZero351
Next Week-We take to the skies in one of my favorite dogfighting games ever. It's part of a long running series dating back to the PS1...but which one am I going to pick? Hmmmm?