Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology releases in the west for Nintendo 3DS in just a couple of weeks - an enhanced re-release of the 2011 DS title. Atlus is certainly no stranger to these sorts of ports, with games like the Devil Survivor series and the upcoming Strange Journey getting the same treatment. This is also the first time Radiant Historia will get an official release in Europe, thanks to the publishing team at Deep Silver.
As is now commonplace with Atlus, this release comes with several enhancements and new additions not present in the original version. I've gotten some time with the new game and I wanted to break down what's new and different here with Perfect Chronology.
In the original Radiant Historia, Stocke - the main protagonist - must bounce between two different timelines in order to solve the game's conflict: Standard History and Alternate History. The largest new addition to Perfect Chronology is that of a third sort of timeline - Possible History. Possible History is centered around a new character, Nemesia.
Nemesia is a historian looking into the history of the continent of Vainqueur. She seeks to enlist Stocke's help in this endeavor, searching for a way to stop the desertification leading the land to ruin.
Possible History is not really a full 'timeline' like the other two. Rather, it's a set of several individual 'what-if' scenarios that place Stocke in a familiar-yet-altered setting where he must obtain an Artifact to help Nemesia with her research. In one such scenario, for example, Stocke finds that his friend Rosch has been promoted to the rank of General, but is soon attacked by a mysterious assailant. Stocke prevents the attack and finds the mysterious Artifact, which he returns to Nemesia.
Now there are two different ways this Possible History content can be incorporated into your playthrough. Before starting the game, the player can choose Perfect Mode or Append Mode. In Perfect Mode, the new content featuring Nemesia is included within the normal storyline, where different scenarios open up regularly as you progress through the game.
In Append Mode, these scenarios are excluded from the main game, and the storyline plays out like it does in the original release. After the game is cleared, you can start a New Game + with the new content included. I should note I am experiencing the game with Perfect Mode.
As for how well Nemesia's story meshes with the original content, you'll have to keep an eye out for our upcoming review.
While the character spritework and overall look of the gameplay itself are largely the same, except with a larger/wider screen, many aspects of the game have been cleaned up for the rerelease. Most of the game's menus and UI have been revamped to take better use of the additional resolution and screen space.
The most noticeable change is that the character art has been redone, and characters are now voiced in English. Also notably, Eruca's design has been changed from her original look, now featuring longer hair instead of a shorter cut. There is also a new opening movie, done by animation studio A-1 Productions.
A DLC was released in Japan which allowed players to choose the original character artwork, however, Atlus USA has yet to unveil DLC offerings for the English release. [Update: See DLC offerings here]
Yoko Shimomura returns as composer with five new tracks for Perfect Chronology. It seems most of these tracks are centered around Nemesia and the new Possible History.
Also important to mention, in 2011's Radiant Historia, the game was played on the DS' bottom screen while the top worked as a simple menu extension to display things like character HP&MP. In Perfect Chronology, the main game is now played on the larger top screen, while the bottom holds both character status and a new mini-map. The mini-map is very basic, only showing the relative size of rooms and where the exits are, but it's still a very useful addition nonetheless.
Finally, a handful of new CG art pieces have been added to the game for key scenes. There is also a Gallery to view these arts and character artwork.
Support Skills are new to Perfect Chronology. In addition to the usual active battle skills each character can learn, now characters can also learn Support Skills, which can activate when a character is not participating in the active party. Much like regular battle skills, some Support Skills are learned simply by leveling up, while others are taught using special Skill Cards found in the game.
Support Skills activate randomly, as long as the character is in the party reserve. These skills can be simply additional damaging attacks or used to apply others effects. Aht, for example, can jump in to poison the enemy or attempt to steal an item. Marco can buff the party or perform an enemy scan.
The Vault of Time
The Vault of Time is a place Stocke can access within Historia that is largely a sort of training ground. You can take on normal enemies in the Vault sooner than you would normally meet them in the storyline, meaning it can act as a sort of challenge dungeon. The Vault opens up relatively early in the game, but additional floors are added depending on progress made in the main story. (It's not a randomly generated dungeon, just to mention).
The Vault uses a special currency called Mementos, which is dropped by enemies here instead of gold. Mementos can be used to purchase consumable items, special new weapons, and new equipment to use back in the regular game. You can also purchase skill cards for more new Support Skills for the playable cast.
The original DS game did not have any options for difficulty settings. Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology has options for Friendly, Normal, and Hard. The Normal and Hard difficulties affect enemy stats in battle, and the player can swap between the two of them at any time during the game. The Friendly difficulty can instead be used if the player simply wants to experience the story with minimal combat difficulty. However, once Friendly is selected, it cannot be changed.
There are several other small tweaks worth mentioning as well.
- The localization has been touched up. Obviously, the new content is a new translation but original lines have also been slightly reworked in places. (Raynie, for example, habitually says 'prolly' instead of 'prob'ly' as she commonly said in the original. There's one point where Rosch calls Kiel's sword dancing 'impressive' while in the original he called it 'amazing', things like that). This also includes some skill and item names. Several lines are still exactly as they were.
- While shop wares seem to be the same as before, several shop prices have been changed. It seems prices for certain items have been mostly increased, although I have seen some items less expensive than they were in the DS version.
- You can now more easily see unit status during battle in the menu for status effects and buffs.
- Weapon and armor stats have been modified slightly.
- Some chest content has been changed.
- There are now volume slider options in settings. You can adjust the individual volumes for music, sound effects, and character voices.
- Message speed can be toggled between Slow, Normal, and Instant.
- There are now 14 save slots - 6 on the 3DS memory and 8 on an SD card - compared to the original's 3 save slots. There is also a new suspend save, which is a temporary file that can be used anywhere and deletes itself upon loading.
- The White Chronicle screen has a 'fast-scroll' toggle now.
- The Skill Screen now shows all available skills that can be used outside of battle in one list, rather than having to page between characters.
- When buying equipment in shops, you can now equip to character not currently in the party (and see the stat changes), as long as you have recruited them in one of the timelines.
Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology is set to release in North America on February 13 and in Europe on February 16.