Radiant Historia – DS RPG of the Year!

Yes, even after playing the game for not much more than a few hours, it’s still plain to see that this is most definitely the DS RPG of the Year.  Though, I guess that’s not saying much considering the only other RPG is Pokemans, is it? (and as if anyone is going to buy that rehashed flop, am I right?)

This is Radiant Historia, an RPG I’m sure most of you have never even heard of, and are probably thinking I just made up off the top of my head.  That’s where I tell you it’s by Atlus and you realize that’s why you’ve never heard of it and probably will never actually find the game in the wild unless you are actually looking for it, and even then it’s harder than finding dat shiny Charizard you’ve always lusted for…

The game takes place in the world of Vainqueur, where two nations, Alistel and Granorg, are having a war of who has the silliest name (Granorg wins).  You play as Stocke, an agent working under a special tactics super squad thing in Alistel, sent out to save the butt of a spy bringing back Granorg’s dirty war secrets.  After being given two subordinates (Raynie the busty spear user and Marco the, uh, Lilty from Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles), you are punted out the door and make your way into the forest.

Soon you are introduced to the game’s grid-based battle system, which as a personal hater of turn-based battle systems, is surprisingly fun.  There are 9 spaces within this grid, with enemies each taking up an individual square.  Enemies closer to you will receive more damage from your attacks, yet deal more damage as well.

This is where it gets interesting.  Your characters acquire special skills that allow you to rearrange enemy formation on the battlefield.  If you manage to knock an enemy into the space of another, any following attacks on that space will deal damage to all enemies within it.  However, as enemies prefer their personal space, they will return to a nearby square once their turn comes.  To overcome this, you are also given the ability to actually change the order of turns within the battle at the added risk of increased damage to whatever character switched places.  So not only are you constantly rearranging the battlefield, but also the sequence of the battle itself to better align your party for multi-enemy combos.  Here is a simple example:

At the very beginning, I use “Left Assault” to bring the top soldier down, followed by a “Push Assault,” thus forcing three enemies into one square as my third character (Marco the Lilty) deals damage on all three.  In the second round, I grapple the flaming chicken and bat it into the square of the remaining soldier to again deal more overall damage than if I had attacked each enemy individually…

Coming back to the story, Stocke’s mission ends in spoiler-ridden-so-I-won’t-go-into-it failure, which brings us to the other main gimmick this game falls upon.  Time travel!

Wait, stop!  I see you going for that Back button!  Unlike other games that involve time travel, Radiant Historia gives the player an integral role in the aspect of the story.  Every so often within the game you’ll come to an important crossroads where you must decide which fate you will follow.  But should you discover that the path you have chosen has led to disaster, you can return back to an earlier crossroad (or “node” as the game puts it) and play on from there in search of the “True History” you are seeking.  It is a very intriguing mechanic, and already this early on I have been given some rather significant choices to make, so I can’t wait to see where the story takes me…

Outside of this, I can only comment on the few characters I have been introduced to and the music.  Stocke is a pretty cool dude; cold and calculating, yet noble in his actions.  Raynie and Marco have a lot of spunk and haven’t annoyed me yet (hopefully yet never comes).  Meanwhile, the music, being done by Yoko Shimomura, is obviously bloody amazing, and has really enhanced the experience thus far.

All in all, Radiant Historia doesn’t feel like a game made this generation.  From its visual style (gotta love sprites), to its music, to its story and characters, it’s like this game ITSELF time-traveled from the SNES generation to bless us with its existence, but had learned from the mistakes and tedium of RPGs of old.  If you have any interest in the RPG genre at all, do yourself a favor and hunt this gem down for a test-drive.  So far, it’s a blast back to the past without the bad aftertaste…

If Stocke wants your clothes, you damn well better give them to him…

16 thoughts on “Radiant Historia – DS RPG of the Year!”

  1. Holy shit now i’m gonna have to get this. Time travel bit still doesn’t sound too enticing though, there’s no way it’ll ever make sense in a game ever. Battles sound great though. What are the conversations like, funny? Do the characters interact well?

    I agree it’s unfair to compare this to Pokemon White, which wont be the best RPG of the year but the best game of all time.

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  2. The time travel actually makes sense so far considering you aren’t going back to really change events, but change specific decisions you have made along those key crossroad points.

    As the tone of the game is extremely serious (tons of death, ulterior motives, and ultimate destruction of the planet), the conversations aren’t…funny so far, but they are very well-written and spunky characters have their own amusing energy to them…

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  3. A gimmick that hides Game Over screens and provides casual re-load points in this dating sim story structure ‘EY?

    How do the bosses shape up? Are there different sizes that affect their grid behavior?

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  4. Is this one of those RPGs where the main character is a whiny emo ladyboy who constantly questions why he’s fighting and wishes he was more powerful so he could protect everyone?

    I bet this is one of those RPGs.

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  5. “How do the bosses shape up? Are there different sizes that affect their grid behavior?”

    Haven’t gotten far enough to give you an answer. I’ll get back to you on it…

    “I bet this is one of those RPGs.”

    It’s not! Main character is a solidly cool dude… =D /daterapeface

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  6. There are certainly a lot of words in this post!

    Like a good dump it’s going to take me a couple of tries to get to the bottom of it.

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  7. Radiant Historia has a great storyline. Every character is unique in their own way, fighting style is different and its not one of those easy games when you know what do to and stuff. Its funny how they leave cliff hangers on 1 time line so you have to go to the other and the story just gets better and better and you would want to keep going on. I would give it 9/10 🙂

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  8. about enemy size. as you progress through the game you come across enemies that take up more then one square on the grid. eventually enemies do get bigger. some take up a 2×1 area some 2×2 and there are some, that can be hard as hell if no prepared, that take up the entire 3×3 grid. as far as personality of the protagonist, there is no spikey hair, no oversized weapon, and no “im weak and cant save my friends” complex. stocke is calm through just about anything and doesnt whine. so ,in short, he doesnt have a square enix personality. if you like/liked chrono trigger like rpg`s and you are looking for a game with a good story, then recomend radiant historia.

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