Radiant Historia

Radiant Historia

Radiant Historia fundamentally has a very evolutionary approach to game design – it does not turn any JRPG concept on its head but gives you fresh additions to several of them. It does this with finesse, being a game crafted with a tried-and-true base it sports more than enough variations to the formula to keep it interesting.

Like so many other good game stories, Radiant Historia starts with an intrigue and a mystery that is unraveled over the course of the game. Like good stories in general, it has levels – the world slowly being turned to desert is, for the most part, used as a backdrop for a political thriller which is in turn used as a backdrop for more personal stories. To its credit, it keeps the solemn tone throughout the game and never resorts to cutesy comic relief characters.

Tied into the story is the concept of time travel – I have noticed that how many contradictions we tolerate within this theme is a highly personal affair, but at least for me Radiant Historia gets it right. Proper explanations are provided and more importantly it meshes very well with gameplay. Without disturbing the plot too much the game manages to solve the problem of avoiding missable quests without forcing the world to be mostly static, no small feat. The gameplay supports it, allowing you to fast-forward past things you are not interested in seeing again and not falling into the trap of destroying your progress for narrative consistency.

The fighting is a real treat too, some RPGs make a big deal out of positioning your characters when fighting but I think this is the first one I have seen where it is all about positioning the enemy. Clearing battles is always a small puzzle about trying to shuffle individual enemies around the battlefield to inflict as much damage as possible and it stays interesting until the end.

The systems are not without flaws, the points where you can choose to replay a part of the story are occasionally very sparse and even with fast-forwarding you can find yourself spending a good 20 minutes on replaying the story when clearing a small fetch quest. I do not care for the graphics – sprites on low-poly backgrounds with low-res textures just does not look better than detailed pixelart and I can’t understand why people insist on doing it. The story gets a bit trite toward the end when the machinations of the world and motivations of the antagonist are finally revealed. Really, though – these things are issues in most every JRPG and Radiant Historia handles them better than the average.

For a few years of my life, at least every other game I played was a JRPG so there is a ring of familiarity associated with the genre tropes. As such, when I like a game as much as I do Radiant Historia I wonder how much of it is just from comfort and nostalgia. On the other hand most gamers have made up their mind about JRPGs already so saying that Radiant Historia is a very good one should be enough to sell the game to people who would enjoy it.

Posted on Feb 19/12 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »