Still a weekend thanks to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Radiant Historia is a DS game dating back to 2011 (in North America, at least), so it might seem strange that I’m reviewing it now of all times. Well, to tell the truth, I never knew about it until I received it as a present just last Christmas. That said, I managed to beat the game just last night (with 40+ hours of gameplay, level 61 Stocke and Marco, and level 60 Aht), and I ended up completing all but 40 nodes in the White Chronicle, which includes having missed:
- 3 Marco scrolls
- 2 Raynie scrolls
- 2 Rosch cores
- 2 Gafka books
- 2 Stocke pacts
- 2 Aht pacts
- 1 Eruca pact
…which is a shame, because my two partners of choice ended up being Aht and Marco.
Why? In the initial stages, I only ever used Raynie and Marco, apart from scripted events and one super annoying miniboss fight (I’ll get to that later). But later on, when I got to the Cygnus part of the story, when Stocke finds Aht before any other of his allies, I came to really admire Aht’s fighting style. She places traps on the field that deal insane damage, and I’ve always liked being able to push enemies around, so…yeah.
So, that’s the reason for Aht. As for Marco: He, Rosch, and Gafka are the only characters with easy-to-acquire skills that pull enemies forward, and I figured that Marco would be the most beneficial due to his access to plenty of healing skills (not to mention Rosch and Gafka aren’t around as often).
And even if traps are out of the question (such as if the enemy takes up all 9 opposing tiles), Aht still proves to have decent damage output with Cross Star (especially if boosted by Marco), and the two partners are robust in the support skills that they possess. That is to say, not only are both very effective healers, but Marco can boost all allies’ Defense, while Aht can boost Magic Defense and, more importantly, ailment resistance. On another note, both have Weakness Scan.
So…yeah. Aht is a literal and figurative beast, and Marco is a robust supporter.
Other things I enjoyed about the game:
- The timeline mechanic is a pleasant reminder of the Zero Escape series, but applied to an RPG instead of a visual novel / puzzle.
- The combat places enemies on a 3*3 grid reminiscent of the MegaMan Battle Network series, and core mechanics include pushing enemies around and changing turn order. It may be turn-based, but all ally turns are executed before the next enemy turn, so combo execution can really feel good and look cool.
- I like that the main character (Stocke) is laconic and antihero-ish but still has the basic social and combat skills to deal with most situations. Also brings into relief the side characters of the game.
- Speaking of, I have an unhealthy obsession with Lippti.
- The music is composed by Yoko Shimomura, who also composed for the Kingdom Hearts and Mario & Luigi series. So, naturally, it’s good music. Has emotional tunes, upbeat tunes, and everything in between. My personal favorite track is the miniboss music.
But, even the best of game experiences come with a few gripes.
- Backtracking to a node in the timeline puts you at the beginning of the cutscene associated with that node, instead of the moment when you are first able to assume control of Stocke. Sure, you can speed through text boxes by holding the X button, but that’s just text boxes; the animations take the same amount of time every time. I find this particularly bothersome for the beginning node of Alternate History Chapter 1 (A New Mission), which has an exceptionally long cutscene for what it’s worth.
1/16 edit: Well, it just came to my attention that you can skip cutscenes entirely using the Start button. Now I feel stupid for not trying that.
- I can’t help wishing that Elm (Celestia’s military commander) had full art instead of just a sprite. She seems like she would look cute.
- The miniboss battle in Alternate History Chapter 4, just past the Celestian War node, is honestly the most annoying fight I’ve had to deal with. At the time, the main three (Stocke, Raynie, Marco) were at level 40-ish, and Rosch was at around level 20. The battle starts off with a thaumachine (story term for an automaton) taking up the top and center tiles of the enemy grid, backed with four naval mine lookalike enemies called Clockwork Thunder taking up the corners. The Clockwork Thunder enemies cannot be pushed around, they’re difficult to one-shot with multi-target skills, and they only ever use a skill called Self-destruct that deals an easy 200 damage to whatever it targets (which, at the time, was at least half every character’s HP), only at the expense of disappearing from the field. What’s more is, when the Clockwork Thunder enemies are all gone, the thaumachine uses Floating Bomb to summon a row of three in the farthest available row in the back (unless it’s at low HP, in which case it can use Bull Crash, another painstakingly strong move). I ended up being able to survive with Rosch and Raynie as partners, and my general strategy was to keep the thaumachine in the back and use Rosch’s Gull Swing to take out the Clockwork Thunder enemies all at once (at the time, Gull Swing would barely fall short of KOing Clockwork Thunder in the back), all while using Raynie’s Thunder and Stocke’s Fire (well, in the few opportunities when Stocke didn’t have to heal anyone) to whittle away at the thaumachine. What a pain it was.
- Another annoying part of the game is the second room of the final dungeon. The gimmick behind the room is that you defeat these floating block enemies and they become obstacles to push and create paths. It’s not a huge issue per se, but there are some crystal enemies along the path that respawn during the cutscene where the blocks become movable. It’s especially a pain for completionists (like me) who want to get the two chests at the beginning of the room (behind rocks that can only be exploded by hidden barrels at the end of the path). I mean, it’s really only the respawning thing that cheeses me off, but this is a prime example of that.
I think that’s all that needs to be said about Radiant Historia. There is a 3DS remake (titled Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology) slated for overseas release next month, but I’ll just settle for having played the original. As for the remaining 40 nodes and stuff, I will scoop them up using walkthroughs (such as this one) because I’d rather not go through the tedium of scouting them out on my own.
Overall rating: 9.3/10. Simple but fun.
À la prochaine! (Until next time!)