Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology (3DS)
Perfect Chronology is a remake of the DS game Radiant Historia that didn't make its way to Europe back in the day. The most notable addition are Possible Histories that address unanswered questions from the original release. The world of Radiant Historia suffers from desertification which turns the land and even people into sand. Stocke, the protagonist, receives the White Chronicle from his boss and mentor early in the game. It turns out that said book allows its owner to return to pivotal moments in history where decisions can be reconsidered and consequently lead to different outcomes. The game simplifies this concept to two main timelines, the Standard History and the Alternate History. Any additional branches in these two timelines are covered in game overs that are explained in under a minute.
The catch is that the timelines do affect each other for some reason, so changes in one timeline can carry over to the other one. Radiant Historia repeatedly throws roadblocks at the player, so it isn't possible to play through one timeline altogether before switching to the other one. Progress is a repeated back and forth to unlock new abilities and equipment. Upon the start of your save file, you get asked if you want to play Possible Histories on the side or if you'd rather play through the original content first and then tackle the new content afterwards. I didn't play the DS game, but I picked the former option regardless. There were no notable spoilers this way and in hindsight it was definitely better to pick this option because the progress structure of Possible Histories is rather bland. What I liked overall is that Radiant Historia sticks with its premise of time, unlike Chrono Trigger which abandons it quickly to return to conventional JRPG story archs.
Radiant Historia's battle system is turn-based with a twist. Enemies are positioned on a 3x3 grid and can be pushed around to land on the same square, at which point single-target attacks hit multiple enemies. Furthermore, turn order of allies and enemies can be adjusted by the player to rack up combos and earn damage multipliers. For the best effect, you have to alternate between physical and magical attacks. While this has potential in theory, the execution is lacking. Stocke is locked into the party at all times, but that's okay because he is versatile. The same can't be said about the other six characters. Marco is the only other party member with a wide range of push skills while Raynie is the only one with access to all elemental magic. It's for this reason that Stocke, Raynie and Marco become more or less the default party throughout most of the game and that's hardly going to change when the other characters only receive 50% of the EXP values while they are on the bench.
The second drawback of the battle system is that it's not suited for grinding, because the auto-battle function doesn't do anything strategic while doing everything manually gets tiresome quickly. On top of that, the money ecosystem feels broken because everything is so expensive. I found myself skipping most weapons and armor, and still, it didn't get any better later on despite my efforts to save up. Equipment and stats are not that important on normal difficulty, but that's no excuse for the glaring lack of balance. This is another reason why I would recommend to enable Possible Histories right away, because the money from sidequests is generous and needed. Treasure chests also contain an absurd amount of money in comparison to what you can earn in battles.
Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology is a game where I had to ponder if it's worth a score of 6 or 7. I usually choose the lower score in such situations and so far it has proven to be the better course of action when I look back at older reviews. I don't make an exception here, but I will remind my readers that a 6 is a positive score on my review scale, hence why it's green. This is a game that is definitely worth checking out for JRPG fans, especially those who put more emphasis on story, because that's the strong point of Radiant Historia.
|Controls||10||There's never much to say about games of this kind.
It's a challenge to mess up their controls.
|Gameplay||Turn-based JRPG with a battle system that doesn't fulfill its potential
due to imbalance of characters. Constant money shortages.
|Story||Timelines play an essential role in the development of the story.
The cast of characters is likeable.
|Single-player||The strength of the story keeps the motivation high
despite the shortcomings in the gameplay department.
|Graphics||Sprites wander through 3D environments. This game debuted
on the DS and it shows in an unimpressive manner.
|Sound||No complaints about the music, but the screams
of certain enemies are of poor quality.
|Value||Comfortably reaches the 30-40 hours range for completion
of the story, so expected standards are met.
|Replay Value||There are higher difficulty settings, but this game gets
carried by its story and that doesn't help on a second playthrough.
|Score||6||Radiant Historia has its ups and downs. It's a solid addition
to 3DS owners' collections, but by no means a must-play.