Radiant Tale Review – The CIRCUS Is In Town

    Title: Radiant Tale
    Developer: Idea Factory
    Release Date: July 27, 2023
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: Aksys Games
    Genre: Otome, Adventure

We all have those times. Being sad, depressed, and just wanting everything to work out. It’s times like these that chilling yourself to a light-hearted game without too much action are perfect, and this is what Radiant Tale, the latest Idea Factory localized title by Aksys Games, strives to be. So let’s open the curtains and watch as the entertainment group CIRCUS greets their audience with yet another performance.

In Radiant Tale, the story begins with Tifalia, a young girl who lost her parents due to a workplace accident when she was but two years old. As the years have passed since her parents’ passing, she has preferred the idyllic life working at an inn restaurant called Liber, together with Radie, a fluffy creature that stayed and comforted her during those hard times.

When Tifalia thought that these idle, normal days would continue, she encountered a group of entertainers known as CIRCUS, a group of entertainers that were tasked by the King of Escholtia to perform across five major cities: Arthreir, the royal capital. Cultura, the City of Harmony, Oriens, the City on Water, where love is in the air. Calida, the Scholar City, also known as the brain of Escholtia. And finally, Ferrus, the Duel City, where power is everything.

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By performing, they will be able to make a special flower known as a Flora, which is a culmination of humans’ positive feelings, to bloom. And with the nectar from said flower, they will be able to cure Escolthia’s first prince, who unfortunately cast a powerful spell that has closed off his heart and soul from feeling any emotion entirely after fending off the Fiends, embodiments of human negativity, from wreaking havoc in the country.

And well, the cast sounds promising! A mystical dragon, a clown, a water magician, and a strong gladiator. With such a colorful cast, what could possibly go wrong? There lies the catch: While the members are all amazing in their abilities, they lack one vital element: Teamwork. After they’ve realized that Tifalia might be the perfect person to bring them together, the leader of CIRCUS, Jinnia, signs with her a contract to help produce the shows across all of the cities.

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Radiant Tale’s narrative and pacing feel, for the lack of a better term, like a very light-hearted anime season, especially because you always have an intermission before each Chapter, and a character will even narrate information about the place you’re about to visit. Furthermore, I should also mention the art style by Kagero Usuba, the same artist that drew Variable Barricade, is one of the main points that caught my attention.

When it comes to the localization, I only found some small issues. Sometimes, there are sudden tonal shifts of a character’s accent, as well as some slight grammar mistakes and typos. As for the font, it’s sufficiently readable, but there are certain segments where the color blends in with the background, which makes it difficult to read at times, especially in Handheld Mode.

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Perhaps one weird thing I found about the narrative is how it tries to plant the fact a “all of CIRCUS’s performers are hopeless at their job” atmosphere, with marketing material for this title constantly hampering on the fact that, for example, Zafora is a clown that can’t make anyone laugh, or that Ion is a gladiator that everyone is scared of. While those characteristics are true to a certain degree, I personally didn’t think they are one hundred percent accurate, especially after playing through their routes.

Personally, I feel Radiant Tale would’ve benefitted greatly if the protagonist, Tifalia, was voiced. There are many times when she narrates over the show, and personally, the whole “self-immersion” excuse doesn’t suit the narrative, especially at the beginning and during the finale route. Furthermore, it’s not like you see her face that often outside of the in-game CGs, so I would’ve loved to see her voice out her emotions.

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Still, despite that…one thing I thoroughly enjoyed about Radiant Tale was the Switch scenes. During certain points in the story, Radiant Tale will shift the point of view from Tifalia to other characters. It’s very similar to how games such as Piofiore do it, and it is honestly one of my favorite parts because it does not limit you to just Tifalia’s perspective, and it lets you view other sides to the story, contributing to its worldview.

My favorite route was Vilio, which also serves as the finale route for Radiant Tale. In order to unlock him, you must first see the Happy End of all the other four members of CIRCUS, but instead of keeping it vaguely hidden, you’ll get a clue at the end of each route showing an illustration of Vilio surrounded by four blank spots, and those are filled in as you complete the other members’ routes.

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Vilio’s route is also the longest, having ten whole chapters, but the build-up for Vilio’s character development is crafted. Surprisingly, none of the routes were bad, but if there was one route that I was really uninterested in, it was Paschalia. Don’t get me wrong, his route is an absolute roller coaster, but its developments are quite predictable when compared to the others. I’m also just not a fan of pessimistic characters in general.

Radiant Tale was an absolute treat to play. The fantasy elements that it introduced were properly utilized, and besides a few translation issues, it had a well-paced narrative that didn’t drag itself out and properly ties the knot on its main plot points. While the romance does take a bit of a backseat, all of its characters are unique and well-written, so if you were looking for a good otome game for this Summer, then why not watch as CIRCUS perform their number for you?

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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