With the 3DS launch a little over a month and a half away, it can be easy to forget that there are still a lot of great Nintendo DS games on the way. Titles like Radiant Historia, which we recently got to take a bit of peek at thanks to Atlus holding a web demonstration for the press. And while there may already be a sea of RPGs on the DS, Radiant Historia is looking to be a stand out title.
Radiant Historia follows a fellow by the name of Stock, an agent with an intelligence agency. The title starts with tasking Stock with saving a spy who holds important information. He sets out alongside his comrades Rainey and Marco, but their attempt doesn’t go over so well. While they do retrieve the spy, they are ambushed, leaving Rainey, Marco and the spy dead on the ground with Stock left barely standing. Pincered on a bridge, Stock takes his only chance and jumps off the side. After the fall he awakens to two children who give him the power to travel back in time. Using this power, he jumps back in time to avoid the ambush, saving his friends and the spy, changing history.
While the first set of events is completely linear, Radiant Historia puts the time traveling powers into the hands of the player. As you continue through your quest players make choices that lead them down specific paths on a timeline. Many of these paths will lead you to ‘bad ends’ that leave you and your party dead. No problem though, just rewind back in time and alter your path! Eventually one of these paths lead you to a ‘good end’ which wraps up the game. Despite being technically “ends”, you can see all the endings on a single playthrough along with a bonus extended ending for those who go the extra mile. As players progress, a timeline map is built in a book called the White Chronicle. Using this map you can pick specific points in time that you want to teleport to and browse to see where you have and haven’t traversed.
While the unique time traveling aspect of Radiant Historia is interesting enough as is, Atlus went the extra mile and created a fairly unique combat system as well. The system is turn based, but enemies are laid out on a 3×3 grid. Players have the ability to push enemies across this grid to different locations. The goal is to put enemies on top of the same point of the grid, essentially stacking them. When hitting stacked enemies, one attack will damage multiple enemies. The enemies will move on their own to avoid this formation, so players have to act quickly to make the most of this situation. Pushing enemies will be more difficult in certain battles. Some enemies just flat out can’t be pushed, while other encounters have objects on the grid that make pushing more difficult.
During battles, the top screen displays a turn layout to show you who is acting in what order. But this order isn’t set in stone. Players have the option to use a ‘Change’ command that switches characters with another allies’ position in the turn queue. Using this you can put character’s into more beneficial positions. If you have some one with particularly high attack, you can move him towards the top of the queue so he can attack stacked enemies before they move. The trade-off? The character who had their position swapped becomes vulnerable until their next turn, increasing damage from attacks dealt to them.
While Radiant Historia only supports three characters in combat, there are seven playable party members to switch out. Despite time traveling, all stats, equipment, and other goodies transfer with you, so no worries about wasted experience points or lost goods.
The title will definitely keep you busy, as most RPGs tend to do. There are over 200 scenarios plus side-quests and other goodies. A play-through should take around 20-30 hours, the side quests obviously stacking more onto that.
If it sounds like it suits your fancy you can pick up the Radiant Historia starting February 22nd in North America for $34.99. Those who pick up launch copies will get a bonus sound track featuring five pianos renditions of Yoko Shimomura’s compositions for the title. Unfortunately, no mention of a European release yet.