Warning: mostly negative opinions inside.
Demon’s Souls is a Japanese RPG that came out of nowhere. Its developer, From Software, was famous only for a few niche titles such as King’s Field and Armored Core series. Their most recent releases, like Enchanted Arms, Chromehound and Ninja Blade, received lukewarm reactions at best and were quickly forgotten except for a few small, dedicated groups of gamers.
And then it came. A PS3 exclusive role-playing game with a different kind of online mechanic and a focus on tough-as-nails difficulty. While I’m not saying those other games developed by FS didn’t have their own quirks and differentials much like Demon’s Souls did, nevertheless it was this one which finally put the company under the spotlights. And I found myself mostly agreeing with all the praise the game received, as it was overall quite a unique and enjoyable experience in its entirety, despite some shortcomings.
Needless to say, I was excited for Dark Souls.
Radiant Historia caught me off-guard. It came as a traditional (read here: uninspired) Japanese RPG, it went as one of the most enjoyable I’ve played recently. Last games of this genre to ever be graced with such merit were P3FES and P4, all of them by Atlus… I think I’m unofficially joining the ranks of its niche fanbase, little by little.
Despite all my fanboyism towards the last Persona games, I definitely wouldn’t consider buying a game just because it was developed by Atlus. I’ve played the first Persona game before, and I’ve seen friends playing Strange Journey and Etrian Odyssey (both share some of its development staff with the team that worked on Radiant Historia). I wasn’t terribly impressed by not one them, nor by gameplay videos of other SMT games I had seen so far. I actually have no idea why I dove head-on into this game. But I’m glad I did.
My expectations towards turn-based jRPGs were reaching new lows. Dragon Quest VIII, for instance, made me fall asleep whenever I was in an area with random battles. I just don’t see the fun in going through dozens of slow-paced battles that I can’t avoid, where I just use the exact same strategy over and over again. I could name some other PS2 games that, even though didn’t disappoint me like Dragon Quest, weren’t all that great or fun in its entirety.
Moving on to this console generation, I can’t say I was satisfied with my Final Fantasy XIII experience, even with such interesting battle mechanics. I also briefly played Eternal Sonata, but wasn’t impressed at all. On the other hand, I greatly enjoyed Valkyria Chronicles and Demon’s Souls, both developed in Japan with strong RPG traits, but far from being a “normal” jRPG (some wouldn’t call them jRPGs at all). So, what’s the point of all this? My skepticism towards traditional jRPGs started growing more and more, making me avoid games like Resonance of Fate and Star Ocean 4 altogether. So, once again I say, I’m glad I picked Radiant Historia, as I could finally enjoy wholeheartedly a new game of one of my old favorite gaming genres.