Port Patrol – Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology is a 3DS port of Atlus’s original 2011 cult-classic JRPG. Atlus is well known for their spectacular ports of older games. From the Vita versions of Persona 3 and 4, to 3DS remakes of Devil Survivor and Strange Journey, Atlus’s ports have always been far, far better than their originals. However, most of Atlus’s ports involve the Shin Megami Tensei series, a series well known for being one of the pillars of JRPG greatness. How did they do with this smaller, relatively unknown game? Let’s take a look.

Story

The original story of Radiant Historia involved hopping between two different timelines (Standard History and Alternate History). Perfect Chronology adds a third timeline: Possible History. This isn’t really one unified timeline. Rather, it’s a series of “what if?” scenarios that are loosely based on content cut from the original game.

They also introduce a new character, Nemesia to the story. Nemesia is attempting to chronicle the world’s history in the hopes that somewhere in that history is the key to saving it from rapid desertification. However, she has more than her fair share of secrets to uncover in each of these new scenarios.

Perfect Chronology is somewhat unique in that you can experience its new content in two different ways. Choosing to play the game in “Perfect” mode integrates the Possible History timeline and its content into the main plot. The player will naturally travel to this new timeline in order to make progress.

If you are more of a purist you can play the game in append mode. This allows you to play through the entire game as it was originally written. One you beat the game in Append mode, the third timeline becomes accessible, allowing you to play a number of “what if?” storylines as post-game New Game+ content.

It’s perfectly acceptable to experience this RPG classic either way, however if you are new to the series I would suggest playing in Perfect Mode. Append Mode appears to be there for people who want to relive the original DS experience since you’ll have to play the game a second time to see the new content anyway. Perfect Mode is certainly the more complete game.

Presentation

In general, maps and sprite work remain untouched. Luckily, Radiant Historia was a damn good looking 3DS game and its graphics are still impressive, even though they’re a generation behind. Unfortunately, playing on a 3DSXL will cause the sprites to appear somewhat pixelated.  Battle backgrounds, however, have received a small upgrade from their DS counterparts.

There are five major changes to the presentation that are worth noting. First, character art has been redone. All characters now have HD anime styled portraits.

Second, characters are now fully voiced in English. This is a pretty big draw for the dubber crowd. The English voice acting is decent. It’s not the best Atlus has produced, but it’s far from the worst. The dub certainly enhances the experience, if only because it means you don’t have to focus as hard on tiny 3DS screen text.

Third, Yoko Shimomura is also back as the game’s composer, and she’s arranged five new tracks alongside updates of the original score. Nothing more to say than that, Shimomura is one of the JRPG world’s best composers and her work is just as fantastic as it always is.

Fourth, the menus and U.I. have all been revamped. This is mainly because the screens have been flipped. The original DS version had action take place on the bottom screen while menus and information were on the top. Perfect Chronology uses the 3DS’s bigger top screen for gameplay and puts menus on the bottom. This grants the player a much wider view of maps and battle and prevents the U.I. from getting in the way. This also frees up extra space for a mini-map which vastly improves the experience of exploration.

Finally, a handful of animated cutscenes and CG splash-screens have been added to spice up the experience. A new gallery mode has been added to allow you to view these new artistic additions at any time.

Gameplay

Unlike most remakes, Perfect Chronology changes Radiant Historia’s gameplay in some fairly significant ways. Players can choose from three different difficulty levels (Friendly, Normal, and Hard.) The original version only has one standard difficulty. With these new difficulty levels comes a new balance patch that tweaks the stats, effects, and costs of every item, weapon, and ability.

New “support skills” have been integrated into the battle system. These skills let your non-active party members participate in battle from the sidelines. They are actually relatively powerful, though they mostly trigger randomly. They serve to keep you rotating your party often, rather than focusing on three characters that you want to power-level until the end of the game.

Speaking of power-leveling, there is a new optional dungeon called the Vault of Time. This place, existing between timelines, allows the player to take on high level enemies before they would meet them in the main campaign. It’s not only perfect for power-leveling, it’s fantastic for grinding gear. You’ll gain a special currency called Mementos in this dungeon which can be used to purchase rare weapons and items you can’t find anywhere else.

The rest of Perfect Chronology’s gameplay changes are quality of life improvements. There are now 14 save slots instead of three. You can equip and compare stats of equipment for characters that aren’t currently in the party. You can alter message speed and fast scroll through the White Chronicle. Overall it’s just a more accessible and solid port of the original.

DLC

This is how you can tell that Perfect Chronology is truly updated for the modern gaming market. It will release with a ton of DLC, with more to come in the future.

On day one players will be able to purchase EXP or Money boosts for $2.

They will also be able to purchase character art packs which change character portraits during game dialogue for $2.50. One of these packs is the “classic art” pack which reverts character portraits to their original DS version, and this feels like something of a cash-grab. The other pack turns every character into a chibified version of themselves, which is cute enough to drop a few dollars on.

For $4, you will get an extra chapter of the story; the swimsuit fan-service chapter… which I guess is just a requisite for any anime-styled game these days. This will also unlock a new boss battle as well as special rewards for defeating the new boss.

Finally, there is one piece of launch DLC that is free, a “Deadly” difficulty for masochists who want the hardest possible challenge.

On February 20, two new pieces of DLC will release each for $2.50. They both include brand new “what-if” timelines to explore. On February 27 two more “what-if” DLCs will release along with a DLC dungeon meant specifically for grinding and bosting your characters’ stats. We will update you with a full overview of the available DLC when it releases.

Should You Buy

Yes.

Here at Port Patrol, we usually split up this section to target several different types of consumer, however, Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology is one of those rare ports that somehow appeals to everyone. It’s certainly not an entirely new game, but the amount of extra content here is staggering. Nearly every aspect of the game has been upgraded, from graphics to gameplay. The addition of a brand new timeline with even more DLC content to come will tack on multiple hours to the original gameplay experience. Simply put, this is the best edition of Radiant Historia yet.

If you purchased the original, buy Perfect Chronology to experience the extra content.

If you didn’t, purchase Perfect Chronology because Radiant Historia is one of the DS’s underappreciated gems.

If you hated the original, still purchase Perfect Chronology since it fixes basically everything that was wrong with the DS release.

This is a JRPG for everyone. The only flaw I can find in Perfect Chronology is that it somehow didn’t find its way to the Switch.