Radiant Historia is a turn-based RPG released on the Nintendo DS that is filled with the spirit and wonder of classic Super Nintendo RPGs.
Radiant Historia’s presentation is a throwback to the imagery of 16-Bit RPGs such as Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI. Like Chrono Trigger, its main feature is a complex time-travel mechanic, but it also combines an involving story, wonderful music and an innovative battle system to produce one of the best RPGs released in a long time. Not only does Radiant Historia feel like celebration of the past, but it also tries to move the genre forward with innovative new ideas.
The narrative of Radiant Historia is intriguing and well written. It features two kingdoms at war, as well as the impending destruction of the world, but like the best stories it focuses on its well developed characters. Unlike a lot of RPGs, the main character Stocke is an intelligent secret agent that is driven by the mission and knowledgeable about the world around him. It feels like you are in control of a harden professional instead of an average teenager destined to save the world. Radiant Historia’s greatest strength is the ability to use the White Chronicle to travel through time and to an alternate reality to mend the time-line and solve problems essential to the plot or complete the many side quests. The time travel mechanic is well fleshed out and intuitive, making both the narrative and game play stronger because of it.
The turn-based battle system is a unique feature in the game incorporating strategy and thought. Enemies are presented on a 3×3 grid and you can move them around using your abilities and skills. By knocking enemies into the same space you can then attack them together increasing damage and speeding up easy battles. Boss battles require more strategy as some are immovable, use special attack formations or defend themselves behind barricades. Another aspect of the battle system allows you to move ahead of the enemies turn and attack them first at the risk of leaving your character extremely vulnerable and defenceless. It is the simple inclusion of these new ideas that keep combat exciting and engaging.
Like the rest of the package, the soundtrack of Radiant Historia is small, but powerful. The music will also bring back fond memories of RPGs from the past, but the melodies are enhanced with updated technology. The tracks are full of violins and pianos and feature fantastic compositions such as the frantic “The Edge of Green” or the mysterious “Memories of the World”. The soundtrack is diverse and well used to add weight to the important and emotional parts of the game.
Radiant Historia is an RPG that can be favourably compared to the classics of the genre. If you wish to play an RPG that captures the spirit of the past and combines it with the best of today then you should play Radiant Historia.