If you’d asked a fair amount of people which Atlus titles would be decent candidates for current-gen remakes, chances are, Radiant Historia probably wouldn’t have made their top five. Originally released in 2011 towards the end of the Nintendo DS’ life cycle, the time-hopping, desertification-preventing adventure of Stocke and Co. won favor with critics and hardcore fans but generally flew under most folks’ radars. My own included, sad to say.
But, in a rare second chance to make a first impression, Radiant Historia Perfect Chronology has arrived on the Nintendo 3DS. Armed with new modes and story content, and coming off one of Atlus’ most successful years, Perfect Chronology looks to keep their momentum going and break out the way its past self never could.
Style Over Substance
Now, as mentioned above, I never played the original DS release, so I can’t fully compare the two versions on any other merit aside from aesthetics. That being said, there’s not a huge amount of difference between the 2011 and 2018 releases in that department. Naturally, the 3DS version does take advantage of that system’s higher processing power, and the game does look crisper as a result, but if you’re expecting a bigger leap like some of Atlus’ other “enhanced re-releases” boasted, you may be a little disappointed. In fact, the only real difference visually is the gorgeous new artwork used for story scenes and lifebar portraits.
The audio mostly follows the same “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality, as the legendary Yoko Shimomura’s score from the original is completely untouched. In this case, it’s completely understandable, as her work here is some of her best. However, one huge and welcome change is the addition of full English voice acting for most of the cast, alongside an improved translation. Considering that some of Atlus’ smaller scale releases have had iffy localizations over the last couple years, it’s pretty refreshing to see them get back on track and go above and beyond on this one.
“Radiant Historia Perfect Chronology is at least worth dusting off your 3DS one more time for.”
When the Frustration Sets In
However, the gameplay is where things start to fall off a little bit. The time travel mechanics are interesting and provide a ton of replay value, but it does get frustrating often watching the same scenes over and over just for tiny differences. And while I’ve seen many praise the combat system, being far more strategic than most turn-based Japanese RPGs usually are, it does lose its luster after about 15-20 hours in, and eventually turns into an outright bore.
That being said, one of the big additions to this Perfect Chronology release is “Friendly” difficulty, which gets rid of combat altogether and effectively turns the game into a visual novel. So, if you’re like me, not particularly feeling the gameplay, but still interested in the story and characters, that’s the mode for you.
Add in new dungeons, a completely new scenario for old-school fans, and a host of other little creature comforts that the DS version couldn’t provide, and you’ve got yourself a quality re-release.
It may not exactly be perfect like it’s name suggests, and it might be a good idea to wait on a price drop, but Radiant Historia Perfect Chronology is at least worth dusting off your 3DS one more time for.
- Longtime fans of the original are rewarded with brand new story content
- Friendly difficulty setting makes it easier for those just wanting to experience the unique story
- Having a full English dub goes above and beyond what was expected for the localization
- One of Yoko Shimomura’s finest soundtracks
- Not as touched up as some of Atlus’ previous 3DS re-releases
- Combat system can get very repetitive, very quickly
- So can watching multiple cutscenes over and over just for slight changes