Radiant Historia Perfect Chronology Review

Developed by Atlus
Published by Atlus
Reviewed on Nintendo 3DS


Radiant Historia was a very unique JRPG that came out on the Nintendo DS near the end of its life. It was unfortunate that not a lot of people never got a chance to play it. Well, Radiant Historia Perfect Chronology is a glorified port of the game with some updates that also sadly comes near the end of the Nintendo 3DS’s life. Do yourself a favor and try it out!

Perfect Chronology takes you to a world at war where the land is turning to sand and countries are fighting to the bitter end. You are a member of a special investigation unit and your job to help stop the war. While it sounds cliché for a JRPG, there’s a big catch that makes this game shine amongst the rest: the White Chronicle. The White Chronicle is a magical book that lets you time travel, but you can’t just move freely around time. You can revisit pivotal moments in the game to change the outcome. For example, one path will have you choose to join your best friend in the military and become a sergeant under him to help in the war. The other option has you rejecting his offer and staying as a member of a special investigation unit. Choosing one will add a new timeline to the game but something may happen in this timeline that will prevent you from progressing, causing a player to travel back and choose the other option to see what changes that can help you proceed. It sounds complicated, but adds a bit of puzzle solving as well as makes the story and side quests far more interesting. The more you play the less you want to stop. The story of this war torn world and its very diverse characters will have you begging for more.

Not only is the story interesting, but so is the gameplay. Like many JRPGs, Perfect Chronology has a turn based system. There is a twist though: enemies are on a 3×3 grid. Your team consists of three party members that can attack enemies with normal attacks, but you can also perform special moves to move enemies around the grid. This is where the battle system becomes more strategy then just turn based. You will want to try and move enemies together so that your attacks can deal damage to multiple enemies. For example, you can have a party member do a push attack to move an enemy to the back row with another enemy. Then, have the second party member push that enemy to the left into another enemy dealing damage to both enemies. Then the last party member can cast a strong spell to maybe finish off all the enemies. Doing crazy plays like this is very satisfying and is a refreshing take on stale turn based JRPGs.

Another very interesting feature is the “Change” option. This lets you switch turns with any party member or enemy. On screen, you will see pictures of party members and enemies that indicates when their turns are (let’s call this the Turn List). At any time, you can switch the active party member with anyone on the Turn List. Allowing you to, for example, switch out the healer of your team to get someone more offensive to finish off the enemy. There is a catch though. When you switch out a person, they will be prone to critical hits until there next turn. This too is a welcomed feature which honestly adds an entirely new level of strategy in the game.

Radiant Historia’s gameplay is slightly too grindy. This isn’t because you need to grind a lot to level up, but you need to grind a lot for money. Money is very scarce and items like weapons and armor are very very expensive. Even inns, your primary source of healing, are costly. Especially early in the game. I spent hours fighting enemies just to get a single weapon for one of my party member just to add a few points of damage, just to go to the new area to see a slightly better weapon that cost about three times as much. Unlike many other JRPGS, you won’t really come across weapons and armor in the wild. You HAVE to purchase them.

So what makes Perfect Chronology so “Perfect”? This isn’t just a direct port of the DS game. When it comes to looks, the game is very similar to the original. The character sprites and environments see very little to no improvements. Radiant Historia looks like a DS or a PlayStation 1 game. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since the minimalistic style adds some charm to the game, giving it a classic look. The major differences you see visually are the menus, interface, and, most of all, character portraits. The overall art style for the game has gone through an overhaul, and while some may prefer the old look, the new look seems cleaner and more modern. Best of all is that they added many different character portraits to add expression during conversations. In the original game every character had just one portrait, mainly there to help you know who was talking. Now you get full expressions and different art during conversations, truly helping you care for characters.

A major difference from its predecessor is the sound design. The soundtrack is composed by Yoko Shimomura, who is best known for her work on the Kingdom Hearts series. The original game has an amazing soundtrack, and it’s nice to see that some of the tracks have been remastered. Also this game adds voice overs which were not in the original DS game. Sadly the English voice acting isn’t the best, and in most cases ruined some very intimate moments in the game. There is no option to play using the original Japanese voices, but the voices can be turned off if you aren’t happy with the voice overs.

What makes Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology truly “Perfect” is the added story content. There are two ways to experience this new content. When you start the game, you can choose to play in Perfect or Append mode. Perfect mode allows you to play the new content seamlessly while playing the game. Append mode will allow you to experience the story as originally presented in the DS version then play the new content. I think it is strange to not have an option to just play the new content for players that have already played the original. Especially since they already took the time to separate the content for another mode.

Radiant Historia Perfect Chronology is a simple looking game with a deep battle system and an even deeper story. The soundtrack is also among the best the 3DS has to offer. Though the graphics are dated and the voice acting can use some work, I can easily say this is one of the best JRPG experiences you will ever have on the 3DS or any other console.