“If Time is really only a fourth dimension of Space, why is it, and why has it always been, regarded as something different? And why cannot we move in Time as we move about in the other dimensions of Space?”
-H.G. Wells, “The Time Machine”
Earlier this week I was invited to and attended a live web demo for the upcoming DS title Radiant Historia by the folks at Atlus USA. Regular listeners of our show probably remember me mentioning this game a couple of times, most notably in our “Top 5 Items That We’re Looking Forward to in 2011” segment (episode 71). After experiencing some of the game, albeit second-hand, I am now even more excited than before, and am wishing that I had put this into my No. 1 slot for that particular list.
Time travel games have a rich history in the RPG genre. As such, Radiant Historia has a lot to live up to, and I honestly think that it will. It views Time in a very different sense than other games, which is very refreshing. Let’s use Chrono Trigger (probably the most recognizable time travel game) for our comparison:
In Chrono Trigger, the characters move backward and forward through time, altering events in the hopes of stopping the destruction of the world. That’s a pretty good formula for the sub-genre, but it fails to address a key component of the time-traveling paradox: alternate timelines. Radiant Historia, on the other hand, is all about multiple timelines based on the players’ individual decisions.
One of the scenes I witnessed was the party coming to a fork in the road; the choice was to go North or South. Depending on which decision is made, an entire history is written. If the wrong choice is made, it is possible to go back and choose the other direction, writing another history entirely. Chrono Trigger’s progression is based on a single line; the characters start in the middle of the line and move back and forward, all along the same line. Radiant Historia starts at a single point and then branches out like a tree, entirely based on decision and choice.
The graphics are beautiful, especially for fans of the classic 16-bit RPGs of the mid-1990s. The characters seem vibrant and well-rounded. The dialogue is extremely well written and translated. And the soundtrack (from the pieces I heard) is simply gorgeous. And speaking of the music, you should all plan on getting this game at launch, as a special edition music CD will be packaged with all launch copies.
I think this is the real deal, folks. Much like how Darksiders and 3D Dot Game Heroes are the symbolic heirs of the Zelda franchise, Radiant Historia could very well carry the banner for the (seemingly) dead Chrono franchise.
February 22nd can’t come fast enough for this DS RPG fan.