Reviews: Radiant Historia

Absolutely Radiant

The Nintendo DS has had far and away the best RP Gs of this console cycle. Atlus' Radiant Historia exemplifies why, with its clever central premise and tactical battles.

The protagonist is Stocke, stoic member of Alistel's Special Intelligence group. His mission sees him heading past the front lines of the invading Granorg military, where first the agent he was sent to escort is killed, followed soon after by his new teammates, Raynie and Marco. Their deaths galvanize Stocke into activating the White Chronicle, a book that allows its wielder to manipulate time itself. Using this power, Stocke travels to the past, where he successfully protects his target and brings his team home alive. Only then does he realize that possessing the White Chronicle has made him responsible for stopping the desertification world.

This is no easy task, especially when a seemingly simple choice creates an entire alternate timeline, which continues to affect the "true" timeline in unexpected ways. A man killed in one goes missing in the other; a rare gem lost in one can be substituted by its temporal twin. Worse yet, there exists a Black Chronicle that is being used to distort the true history, for unknown reasons.

And the game expects you to keep track of all this.

The White Chronicle serves as the guide to the split timelines; keeping track of major story events and sidequests. Major decisions are represented as "nodes", which can be traveled to via Historia, the world of the Chronicle. Most decisions have a right or wrong answer, and choosing the wrong answer gives you a bad end.

It has a few imperfections, like static character portraits, too few music tracks and dialogue constrained by the boxes provided for it. On the upside, the music is composed by Yoko Shimomura, and the battle system encourages "stacking" enemies, combos for massive damage and tactical manipulation of the turn order. Clocking in at about 40 hours, the game lacks much replayability thanks to its time-travel mechanics but is still a fun, and occasionally poignant, experience.