Imagine if you could change the future. What would you do differently? Would you warn yourself about certain events that have yet come to pass? Remember, there are always consequences to changing the past. You will need to balance and control this, and many more situations, in the new DS RPG Radiant Historia.
The story follows Stocke, a secret agent working for his kingdom’s government. He takes on missions that help protect his country, gathering information on the plots of rival countries. Stocke is almost killed on one of these missions and is visited by two young, mysterious people claiming to be time travelers. He obtains the Historia, a magical book that allows Stocke to travel through time to relive key moments in his life and change his decisions. Stocke is the only one that has conscious memories of future events and it’s up to the player to make the decisions.
The battles take place in a turn-based fashion. The enemies are placed on a grid consisting of 3 rows and 3 columns. Each party member has special abilities that can move enemies to other sections of the grid allowing for combos and attacking multiple enemies at once. So, let’s say you have 3 enemies on screen each one behind the other. You can have a party member use a push attack on the front enemy, which will knock it back, into the enemy behind it. Then, use another party member to grab the back enemy and pull it into the other two and finish it up with a magic ability that will damage all enemies in that grid. It’s a nice system that really gets the player thinking about how best to approach a fight.
Getting into a fight consists of running into enemies on the map. Stocke can slash with his sword and hit incoming enemies to stun them. While stunned, you can initiate combat with a preemptive attack. Of course, it works the other way as well; if an enemy runs into Stocke from behind, they get the first attack.
You can only have three party members in battle. The battles have a special turn system that allows for party members to change turns in order to set up moves and setup enemies into a more strategic formation for better damage. Radiant Historia has one of the best experience systems I have come across. ALL party members receive EXP, even ones that don’t participate in a battle. This is a fantastic mechanic that I believe all RPGs should use. Leveling up allows for better stats as well as learning new abilities.
While the combat can offer up a decent challenge, I never found myself having to power level before going into new areas. The game just flows so smoothly. You never really feel stuck at all, whether it is story, time travel, or combat.
The game’s main mechanic, time travel, has you making decisions and living with the consequences of those decisions. If something doesn’t come out the way you thought it would, use the Historia to relive Stocke’s past and change your decisions. One really unique thing about the time travel mixed into the story is that everything that you do in one timeline has an effect on a separate timeline. In one timeline, where you’re working for the army, a critical point in a situation revolves around a merchant delivering explosives to the army. Somehow, the merchant is killed before making his delivery. Without the explosives, the army falls to the opposing force. Stocke can relive his past in another timeline where he never joined the army. He finds that the same merchant with the explosives is being attacked by bandits. Save his life, and he lives in the alternate timeline with Stocke in the army. It’s very involved, and keeps players on their toes.
The only problem with the time travel is the fact that you will be reliving Stocke’s life. All the cut scenes and dialog are there as well. It just becomes a little annoying having to go through all the same stuff over again. You can skip most dialog, but it just gets a little monotonous. Luckily, the Historia allows you to travel to specific nodes in time. That way, you don’t have to relive a ton of stuff just to get to one certain moment. Another good thing, even though Stocke is travelling to the past, abilities, equipment, and level all stay at current levels for the entire party.
The story is very involved and you can’t help but feel for Stocke and his party as they try to save their country. Stocke is a strong silent type but, later on, you can tell that the constant travelling though time weighs a heavy burden on him as he opens up to both himself and to his companions. The story has some twists and turns, as well as a few “holy crap!” moments, that really keep the player invested. It’s quite compelling, and has a genuine feel to it.
Radiant Historia is a fantastic game. The story is great and the combat has plenty of depth for any fan of RPG’s. I can’t recommend this game enough. The time travel mechanic is well thought out and, because it all revolves around story set pieces, you’re constantly progressing in all the different timelines. It’s just a really well done RPG that will entertain any RPG fan.
Review copy provided by publisher.