That’s right. It’s 2012, I can read enough Moonrunes to understand most games, and piracy for PSP games is rampant on the internet (…and it’s not like I don’t partake in such less-than-legal activities). By standard logic, I should have played Radiant Mythology 3, which is said to be the best in the RM series and actually involves a good number of characters from Tales games I’ve played or have watched Let’s Plays for. It has been stated several times on message boards that if there is one Radiant Mythology game that is actually worth playing, it’s the third one. However, I am known to throw away logic at times when I shouldn’t, so my “play games in chronological/release order” mindset kicked in here of all places, and I ended up grabbing a copy of the English version of Radiant Mythology 1 for $10 to begin my venture into the Radiant Mythology games.
Tales of the World is a spin-off series that basically serves as fanservice for Tales fans, featuring characters from the main games in a crossover. Radiant Mythology is a subseries of Tales of the World for the PSP that basically plays like a dungeon-crawler with the Tales characters and battle system. RM1 takes place in a world named Terrasia, where the World Tree that supports life is losing mana and the world is slowly getting eaten up by a creature known as Gilgulim. You are a descender born from the World Tree, tasked with protecting Terrasia from destruction. Partnered with mascot character Mormo, who is actually a descender from a destroyed world, you travel to Ailily and join the guild Ad Libitum to aid people who need help. You also end up meeting a girl with amnesia named Kanono, who clearly looks important to the plot.
The game uses a battle system similar to Tales of the Abyss, minus the FoF change mechanic that was obviously setting-specific. You get your Artes, TP, Free Run, and most of the things you’d expect from a 3D Tales game. Since I had problems going back to Abyss’ battle system after Graces, Radiant Mythology’s combat wasn’t very attractive. Add in the fact that you can only choose the Normal difficulty on the first playthrough, and you’ve got battles that aren’t very exciting compared to recent Tales. The only boss with any semblance of difficulty on Normal was the final boss, and it was a pleasant and much-needed difficulty spike.
Outside of combat, the game plays very much like a yawn-inducing dungeon crawler. Your main task is to accept quests from the guild and complete them, usually requiring you to go into a dull-looking dungeon. As you complete more quests, your fame will rise, and story-related quests will appear. The problem is, you can only do one quest at a time. You can’t do “kill 10 bats” and “kill 10 wolves” at the same time, even if the two enemies are in the same dungeon. Sure, it was kind of fun fulfilling various quests in the beginning, but your usual MMO hunting and fetch quests become dull fast when you have to do them one by one.
Normally, Tales games have decent to good stories that at worst, still compel you to continue with the game and see what happens. That’s not the case with Radiant Mythology here. When your main story is told through some story-specific quests with short cutscenes (done in the style of skits, might I add) during the quests, you know it’s gonna be pretty barebones. I spent approximately 20 hours to beat the game, and most of that consists of quests unrelated to the story. In most Tales game, you get to visit a variety of distinct towns. In Radiant Mythology, you get 3 towns in total with menu-based navigation.
This is a crossover dungeon-crawler, so of course, the main attraction is being able to recruit various Tales characters into your party and see skits of characters from different games interacting. Some of them are rather interesting and fun to watch, but by the 20 hour mark, skits weren’t activating any more no matter where I go (so I assumed I saw all or most of them) so there weren’t enough to keep me interested in the game beyond the final boss. Compared to the large roster of recruitable characters in RM3, this game only has 14 playable Tales characters. They’re mainly from older games, with Abyss being the most recent one to have characters from.
Being with Tales characters are fun and all (even if I didn’t play their game), but the cast original to Radiant Mythology are severely lacking in terms of writing quality. The protagonist is a player-created silent protagonist who doesn’t say anything asides from dialogue choices that have no impact. The mascot character does all the talking for you, and is probably the one with the most presence out of the game’s entire original cast. Yeah. A large chunk of the already brief story revolves around Kanono, the heroine, but she is awfully forgettable for someone the game sees as central. She is so dull she might as well be unique in the crowd of eccentric Tales characters that have great alchemy with each other in skits. Her character is undoubtedly boring, but she somehow gains the approval of everyone she meets due to being “hard-working,” “kind,” or “strong.” The game also plays her up to be naturally great with the sword, but somehow you needed to save her from a weak enemy with one of the lowest stats in the game. Combined with a certain “plot twist” in the game, I can see many gamers calling Kanono a mary-sue. I personally don’t use that word very often since it’s all too easy to just dismiss a female character you don’t like as one, but Kanono just feels so inconsistent yet typical at the same time, like the OC main character of a 13-year-old’s fanfiction.
So let’s see…Radiant Mythology can be summed up as a very basic Tales-based dungeon crawler. Honestly, unless you’re crazy for a Tales crossover game and can’t read Japanese, you can do a lot better. The plot is very barebones, the battle system is rather outdated compared to current 3D Tales games, and there’s less side content than a mothership title despite this being a dungeon crawler, which should offer a variety of quests and bonus bosses in theory. Graphics and music aren’t exactly impressive, and the dungeons are awfully repetitive. They’re more yawn-worthy than those in Conception: Ore no Kodomo o Unde Kure.
The game isn’t terrible, but you aren’t missing anything if you skip it. I did get something out of RM though, since I ended up playing Tales of Destiny thanks to it.