A second chance.
The term “hidden gem” is something that’s been thrown around a lot as a way to describe something quite exceptional that was overlooked by the masses. One of my favorite examples of this in gaming is a little DS JRPG by the name of “Radiant Historia”.
For all intents and purposes, it felt like a spiritual successor to Chrono Trigger with its narrative hook revolving around time travel and alternate timelines. It’s a game I completed fully, uncovering every possible future of the different timelines and ultimately, it became my favorite JRPG on the DS, toppling “The World Ends With You”, which had been sitting pretty on the top spot for three years.
However, as much as I hold the game in high regard, it’s also a game not many have played. Whether it was due to the niche appeal of the game itself or the fact that it came out days before the launch of the 3DS, I’ve always felt that it was a crying shame for such a good experience to be forgotten and luckily, it seems Atlus feels the same as they’ve decided to give it the ever-popular remaster treatment with excellent results.
Length: 35~ hours
Taking the role of a talented SI Agent, Stocke is thrust in the unenviable position of trying to stop the destruction of the world. With the help of a mystical book known only as the “White Chronicles”, he gains the ability to traverse to pivotal moments in history to guide the world to a slim possibility of salvation. Along the way, he must count on his trusty companions and unravel the mystery of the “Black Chronicle” and its enigmatic wielder.
It’s a story that stood the test of time (no pun intended), thanks in part to the likeable cast of characters as well as the way the events unfold, where the main timeline and alternative timeline must progress together so Stocke can find the path to true salvation. As what occurs in one branch of time resonates to the other, Stocke must travel between the two realities, failing and losing it all many times just to learn a hint about what must be done to guide history to the right path.
It’s a grueling experience to witness my allies perish because of my actions and worse yet, have them betray me after I’ve lost their trust but the various trials and tribulations made the moments of triumph where everything went according to plan feel even more rewarding.
Just as progressing through the story requires making some tough decisions, the combat is often intense and always requires a fair bit of strategy to come out on top.
Battles take place on a grid of sorts where each enemy is occupying their designated space, but as Stocke and his companions have skills that allow them to move the enemy around the battlefield by smacking them around, it’s of utmost importance to try to plan out your course of action before doing anything at all.
For example, if there were three enemies on the field, I could push one enemy into the tile with another foe and then knock those two left to the last opponent and then use a powerful magic spell that costs a lot of MP but deals a lot of damage and hit all three of them at once. While the magic spell would only affect one enemy at a time normally, manipulating the placement of the enemies in a sequence allows for a combo that makes them all vulnerable to the same attack.
This basic strategy carries all the way to the enemy of the game but there are more units introduced, like those that cannot be moved in any way, some which can’t be launched and many others that take up multiple spaces on the battlefield at once.
I could also switch my turn order amongst my allies or even with my foes giving them the first opportunity to attack so that I could chain more and more of my attacks together in one long sequence, which increased the damage I dealt significantly. However, the drawback was that changing turns with an enemy made that character more vulnerable to critical hits, which gave a risk versus reward element that needed to be weighed carefully before taking action.
This simple and yet deceptively deep mechanic made every encounter a puzzle to be solved and kept combat interesting throughout the experience.
As for the difference between Perfect Chronology and the original game, there is now a great deal of voiceover work as all the main characters are voiced rather expertly with stellar performances all around. However, given that it’s only the main characters that are voiced, it leads to many scenes where side characters would only grunt or shoot out a single line which felt a bit jarring and hurt an otherwise solid presentation. Given how good the voice acting was, I wish they went the direction of the Devil Survivor remasters which included full voice over for basically every line of dialogue.
There is also a brand new series of missions that unlock which detail some “what-if” stories, some of which highlight some of the lesser explored characters, which was a nice touch as were the rewards for completing them, and without spoiling anything, I would highly recommend that one strives to complete all of Nemesia’s quests for a rather special surprise at the end. The game is available to play with all the new content from the beginning by choosing the Perfect mode and to those that want only the see the content that was available can choose the Append mode which has the extra content open up after New Game+.
There is also brand new character and story artwork, and while it’s a matter of taste to say whether it’s better than the original, I thought it was well done and the more expressive characters portraits added to the personality of the characters.
To those unfamiliar with this hidden gem, Perfect Chronology represents a new chapter in your very own White Chronicle where you can return to the past with all your new experiences and finally learn that Radiant Historia is one the best JRPGs you’ve never played.
Fun Tidbit – There is also a brand new difficulty available free via DLC but I found normal mode to be challenging enough as it is.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.