The branching timelines in Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology makes the game feel like a choose-your-own adventure game, but while you’ll jump back and forth between the timelines the game doesn’t get too confusing. It’s actually a rather interesting mechanic that doesn’t feel like a gimmick and is central to the story and your progression through the game.
The expanded 3DS port of the original Radiant Historia, released six years ago for the Nintendo DS, contains a great deal of added gameplay/story content, updated presentation, and new ways to experience the adventure.
On the continent of Vainqueur about a century ago, a mysterious phenomenon called “desertification” began encroaching from the western side of the continent, turning all land it reaches into sand. Year by year, the remaining habitable land shrinks further. Without a solution to this growing problem, Alistel and Granorg have been forced into bitter conflict over what green land is left, as the future of the world grows dimmer and dimmer.
You’ll once again take the reins of Alistel operative Stocke, a member of the SI, a special operations unit of the military. Upon being given a mysterious book called the White Chronicle by his commander Heiss, he uncovers that this relic is truly powerful as he gains the ability to travel between two alternate timelines. It’s a very neat concept that is thurst into the forefront right at the beginning of the game. Stocke is given a choice to remain with the SI or rejoin his friend with the Alistel army. This event in time splits the game into two storylines, one where he joins his friend Rosch and the other where he doesn’t.
As far as the choose-your-own adventure comparison, there are points in each timeline where you are given two opposing choices. One choice may continue the story along while another may lead to a game over. Though when that does happen Stocke is taken to Historia where he can use the White Chronicle to go back in time to specific points to try and change history. He can also navigate between the timelines to change the flow of history as well.
Those changes ripple through the twin timelines and changed events can affect the other timeline. For example there is a point near the beginning of the game where a key character your team is waiting for doesn’t arrive, which throws your team into chaos. But using the White Chronicle to switch to the alternate timeline allows you to find this character, save him from danger, thus allowing him to continue on his way and make it to his destination in both timelines. Changing the course of history in one timeline can get you past an obstacle in the other timeline.
There are also instances where you may need a certain ability to advance in one of the timelines which you will learn in the other. While this sounds counter intuitive it really flows nicely and isn’t jarring at all.
There are multiple difficulty settings in the game, with a beginner difficulty which allows you to flow easily through the game. While the core of the game at the regular difficulty contains turn based battles, the lower difficulty lets you skip many of the ‘random’ battles, thus allowing you to enjoy the story at a quicker pace. All of the enemies are visible in the overworld. Striking them in the beginner difficulty will allow you to skip the battle while still earning experience, items, and gold. The difficulty of battles in the beginner difficulty is also dramatically lowered as well, so a gamer can enjoy the game for the story without the challenge of the battles.
Being a JRPG, Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology has a very lengthy and engrossing story, nearly all of which is fully voiced with great voice work. The cut-scenes have extensive dialogue and the game can play out like a visual novel at times. You can even put down your Nintendo 3DS and let the story auto-play while you watch along during some of these scenes. If you’re not interested in the finer points of the plot though you can press a button to skip through the dialogue much faster. Also, since you can go back in time and replay segments of the game at any time, when you replay a section you can skip a cut-scene entirely.
There are two main storylines in the original game and this remake adds a third parallel timeline. Stocke will now encounter a mysterious new character named Nemesia who will teach him more about his world’s history and unlock a third timeline to explore the ripple effect of some of his actions with episodic “what-if” scenarios. You can choose to play the game through in the original mode as it was originally released, or play the appended mode with the new content included.
Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology blends a familiar turn-based battle format with an innovative grid-based strategy system. In each encounter, enemies appear on a 3×3 grid, opening up a multitude of possibilities. You can push, pull, and otherwise force the enemies around the grid, and then smash them all at once on the same square. Another unique feature of this system is the Change command. By using it, you can manipulate the turn order of both allies and enemies to set yourself up for the perfect succession of moves.
A new edition to the 3DS version, your teammates who are not currently participating in battle can jump in and help out with a support skill! While their appearance is random, they will not spend any MP. Each character has their own unique skills that will be used.
Whether you play the game for the brute challenge of the harder difficulty settings or play thru more casually on the lower difficulty, the storyline of the game is intriguing, the characters are colourful, and the unfolding plot is twisted and engaging to watch.