Best Battle System
Grinding is usually a necessity in RPGs, but Radiant Historia makes doing so pretty darn fun. There's no standard "mash the A button until the victory screen appears" formula here; Atlus went for something unique and entertaining that should be copied by other developers who need some ideas. At first glance the very idea of being able to swap character turns with those of the enemies seems insane — why would anyone want to allow the opposition a chance to beat up the party before striking back? Because the game makes it rewarding to do so, of course! Unlike the regular battles in most traditional RPGs, those of Radiant Historia reward taking a moment to plan how best to organize the attack. Also unlike most other battle systems, in this one stringing strikes together sequentially can yield a lot more damage than single blows.
The key to this game's combat being remarkably addictive lies in the ability to smack enemies into the spaces occupied by their compatriots, then hit everything in that space with all subsequent attacks. There's a catch, of course, and it is that whenever the next enemy's turn comes up all of them disentangle themselves from whatever pigpile they were thrown into. Thus the initial reaction of someone presented with the ability to make enemy turns come up first is undone, because grouping multiple character turns into a compact mass will produce plenty of pain. As if merely being able to smash the enemy in one concentrated rush of well-planned offensive fury wasn't enough, the after-battle rewards are increased too. Even if this gets a touch monotonous due to the repetition of certain enemy formations, not being subjected to random battles means being able to run past onscreen foes most of the time. This kind of fighting doesn't come around every day, and it ensures no one will start feeling sleepy because of constant A button mashing.
The unique twists offered in Radiant Historia were great, but our runner-ups went to games that were a little more grounded. It doesn't get much more grounded than the ever robust battle system found in the Disgaea series, and Disgaea 4 offered the best refinement of the system to date. There were some of us that desired a more brutal combat system and Dark Souls was right there to fill that void. Making sure we never had a chance to relax and take things easy, this game was all about making sure that when we did make a mistake we knew it...and would hopefully learn from it.
by Mike Moehnke and Michael Cunningham