One of Radiant Historia’s major selling points is the way in which it explores alternate histories. We see this concept in fiction in other forms of media all the time. Comics explore the idea often, with X-Men’s Age of Apocalypse alternate timeline. Movies do it often as well, with Back to the Future being among the most famous. The Man in the High Castle is pulling double duty as a novel and TV show centered around an alternate history. But in video games, it is not always as commonplace a concept. With Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology, it feels like this element is celebrated with Possible Histories.
It is important to know going in that the Possible Histories are more of a complement to the original game. This is not a full alternate timeline to enjoy, one that fleshes out the ones we see as Stocke is trying to find a way to save the world. This is a bonus that allows us to see even more possibilities. If things had gone differently, maybe if a butterfly had flapped its wings, we would get to see these people’s lives go differently in the primary Radiant Historia timelines. Instead, we have these more minor vignettes as we hunt for Artifacts for Nemesia.
What I like is that the game does not give these more priority than you would expect. It acknowledges that these are an extra that could impact the ending if they are all complete. As such, it lets each player determine when they appear. Perfect Mode is preferable, in my eyes. This makes these extra opportunities appear during the full game. You may or may not run across and choose to do them in between other, more important events. It spaces things out, making them little time traveling snacks to enjoy as you go through the game. In this way, they also improve your knowledge and awareness of various characters. After all, many of these have to do with people who may be heroes or villains of varying consequence.
The Append option is not without its merits. This takes the additional Nemesia content and keeps it hidden away until you beat the game. In a way, this takes away from some of the impact of the ending. Radiant Historia is a game with a finale that can be rather stark and emotional. But then, it also gives people a chance to do something more. The Possible History impacts the story, so you can go in knowing that things can change by delving deeper into alternate timelines. It really hammers home how much Stocke is able to accomplish by exploring possible worlds. At the same time, if you decide you want to go ahead and skip these extra segments, you can. They do not distract from the core experience at all in this mode and become completely optional.
What is cool about these, no matter when you play through Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology’s, is how different each one can feel. These extra quests cover quite a few bases. Some of them are omake segments. They can be rather funny looks at characters in a game which is often sad or serious. Some of them are incredibly enlightening. There are a lot of characters who are not part of Stocke’s main party and do not get as much attention during the course of the game. Heroes and villains alike, they get their moments here. Also, the payoff that comes from completing these, story-wise, can make running through these extra tasks feel like an extra accomplishment if you really did like one of these folks.
With Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology, people get to enjoy options. They have an opportunity to explore part of what makes this game so great. You can see even more “what if” moments and allow them to impact Stocke’s own world. It is an opportunity to learn and enjoy more, but on your terms. It is there should you want it, but easy to ignore if you do not. It perfectly provides more of what is one of the game’s defining qualities in the best way.
Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology will come to the Nintendo 3DS on February 13, 2018 in the Americas and February 16, 2018 in Europe.