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- "The Chronicle tells of history engraved by men into the memories of the stars above.
The Chronicle searches those engraved histories for a pen that will rewrite them.
It falls to thee to become time's master and carve a path to the future..."
Radiant Historia (ラジアントヒストリア, Rajianto Hisutoria) is a Nintendo DS game developed and published by Atlus. It tells the story of a young man named Stocke, who is given the power to travel through time using the White Chronicle. Stocke must navigate a maze of decisions across two timelines to find a thread in history which will avoid a tragic future.
The game gives a unique take on the concept of branching storylines, which it combines with the concepts of time travel and parallel universes, similar to the games Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. Radiant Historia takes it much further by giving players the freedom to travel backwards and forwards through a timeline to alter the course of history, with each of their choices and actions having a major impact on the timeline. The player can return to certain points in history and live through certain events again to make different choices and see different possible outcomes on the timeline.
The player will be using the ability to travel through time and space throughout the game. The player will be changing the past to create a "true" future, and the game has the player travel through time and space as the player switches between parallel worlds. The game has many possible parallel endings.
Enemies are visible on the fields before a battle and the player may choose to fight or avoid them in open combat. A battle begins when the party comes into contact with the enemies, or if a story event initiates a confrontation.
The battle system makes use of a positioning system called the 'Grid System'. Enemies are placed on a 3x3 grid, with each enemy standing in a single slot, except for some large enemies spanning multiple slots. If the player attacks an enemy who is in a grid space near the attacking character, the enemy will incur greater damage. However, the player will also be open to greater damage.
Some attacks can move enemies around the grid, stacking them on the same slot until an enemy's turn comes and consecutive attacks on this group of enemies hit all of them. Despite being a turn-based combat system each member of the party can switch turns with the others and even with enemies, giving more freedom to the player to perform combos and deal further damage to enemies, but having its risks too, as a party member who switches turns become more vulnerable until becoming able to move again.
The game takes place on the continent of Vainqueur, a land which had in the past been the seat of a great old empire. However, the old empire had misused the power of Flux, creating weapons which drained life out of living things. After some great calamity, the center of the continent was turned into a desert and all the bastions of the old empire reduced to ruins. The last remaining members of the old empire fled north to what became the kingdom of Granorg, where they were able to temporarily stall the desertification of the rest of the continent. This was accomplished through a ritual only the royal family could perform, where one royal sacrificed another to temporarily stop the desert from advancing.
Native to the continent are two races of Beastkind, the wiry Satyros, who have a greater connection to the power of Flux than humans do, and the Gutrals, who despite being large and reminiscent of great apes, are intelligent and peaceful.
When the story starts, the continent is effectively governed by five powers. In the north, Granorg is at war with Alistel. Granorg has superior numbers, but cannot outright defeat Alistel because of the latter's use of thaumatech, which, among other things, allows Alistel's field soldiers to wear suits of mechanical armor. Also on the northern half of the continent is Celestia, the homeland of the Satyros, whose connection to Flux allows them to defend themselves in a way humans cannot match. To the south is Cygnus, a human nation made of outlaws and refugees of the desertification, whose primary defense is the desert itself, which the armies of Alistel and Granorg cannot cross in number. Finally, occupying the southeast, in the last wild jungles on the continent, is Forgia, homeland of the Gutrals.
- See: Prologue
A Japanese trademark for the game's name was known to have existed as far back as March 2010. At that point, nothing was known about the game except its name. It was not until July 2010 that an issue of Famitsu revealed it to be a role-playing game for the Nintendo DS that involved time travel. It was later revealed to involve many staff members who have worked on the Shin Megami Tensei series, and former members of tri-Ace from the company Headlock, who have been previously cited for working on the similarly named Radiata Stories.
Radiant Historia has received mostly positive critical reception. 1UP's Jeremy Parish gave the game a B+ score, describing it is "easily the most original of this month's slate of RPGs" and an "engaging role-playing game that deserves a chance", while praising the game's protagonist Stocke, saying, "While he does indeed come off as a stock character at first impression... He quickly develops into something much more interesting.". Shiva Stella of GameSpot praised the game's time travel aspect, calling it "exciting", and "inventive"; she then concludes Radiant Historia is "an innovative adventure that is sure to stand the test of time."
IGN has given the game 8.5 out of 10, praising the game's graphics, time travel aspect, innovative gameplay and involving story and music which they called "beautiful". Neal Chandran of RPGFan gave the game a score of 91%, describing it as "one of the best Japanese RPGs I've played in years." Jason Schreier of Wired gave the game a score of 9 stars out of 10, concluding "Atlus has created the perfect blend of innovation and tradition." Matt Peckham of PC World praised the game's nonlinear multidimensional concept which allows the game to be played differently by travelling to a decision point and choosing another path, in contrast to "BioWare-style head pats, where whatever you choose, the game plays out more or less as it would have anyway." The non-linear time travel system of Radiant Historia has been compared to later RPGs such as the PlayStation Portable version of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together and more recently Final Fantasy XIII-2.
In IGN's "Best of 2011" awards, the game has been nominated for the "Best 3DS/DS Story" and "Best 3DS/DS Role-Playing Game" awards. Nintendo Life gave it an honourable mention for the Game of the Year award. Game Informer gave it the "Best Old-School Homage" award. Samantha Nelson of The A.V. Club chose it as her staff pick for Game of the Year.