In 2011, a JRPG came to the West that, thinking back at the time, I wasn’t ready for. The game was titled Radiant Historia and released on the Nintendo DS through publisher Atlus. The game’s development staff consisted of veterans from several notable Atlus-developed games, including, Persona 3 and Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne. I can recall after the first three hours of playing that it was something that I had never encountered before, and I was hooked from then on.
Earlier this year, Atlus announced a remake of the game titled Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology for the Nintendo 3DS. The game would be a remake of the original DS release, while adding updated graphics and new content – such as “what-if” scenarios – and a new character called Nemesia.
As a fan of the original, I was skeptical of the remake, but that all seemed to change once I got some time to go hands-on with an early English build of Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology during E3 2017, and was able to get a first look at the enhancements in the 3DS version of the game.
Shortly after loading up a preview save file, it was clear that Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology had already fixed one of my biggest grips about Radiant Historia: the use of the dual-screens. You see, Radiant Historia mostly utilized the lower touch screen on the DS – which added some clever ways to move around – but there is no reason to ever use the stylus for serious gameplay.
Furthermore, the top screen is hardly ever used and is mostly kept black throughout the game’s story. However, in Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology the top screen is now fully displaying the gameplay, while the bottom screen shows character stats and menus.
During my hands-on time, I was able to enter Lazvill Hills – one of the earliest maps in the game – to engage in battle. Although everything looked familiar, I could tell that every tree and path had been touched up to resemble a game released this generation. Additionally, the story’s main protagonist Stocke look pretty awesome with his new updated look.
Field actions that players are accustomed to are returning, meaning that it’s possible to slice at enemies to get a preemptive attack as well as executing actions like “move box” when prompted. Getting into battle provided a rather satisfying experience given that the enemy sprites have all been reworked and the fighting animations executed flawlessly. More importantly, the load times jumping into battle were improved over the original game, which was nice to discover.
For those who haven’t played the original, battles in Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology are a bit different when compared to your everyday JRPG. Once an enemy is encountered, the party of three (or four) line up to face off against enemies that are able to move around a 3×3 grid.
During the player’s turn, it’s possible to use certain skills that can manipulate the enemy’s position on the grid. Ultimately, it’s possible to group each enemy to a single grid and attack all of them at once. By doing this, it’s possible to rack up a high combo for style points, which is always worthwhile for the player to execute.
During the game’s story, players must make decisions as they are presented to Stocke, who unknowingly gains possession of a strange book called “the White Chronicle.” By using this mysterious book, Stocke is able to manipulate time and travel to various moments in order to choose the right path.
The best thing about Radiant Historia as a whole is that the story holds up to the modern standards of JRPGs. Now with Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology, the graphics and UI have caught up to these standards as well, showing a remake worthy of releasing in this hardware generation. I might have been worried about the remake when it was first announced, but after playing Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology I would happily dive back in and replay this adventure; it just sucks that we’ll have to wait until it releases in early 2018.
Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology will release for Nintendo 3DS on June 29th, 2017 in Japan, followed by a release for North America and Europe in early 2018.