Games 2022: The Radical Dreamers had the most radical dreams

There is a strong sense of longing in the opening film of Chrono Cross. A book slowly opens while a gentle melody plays and text appears on the screen: “What was the start of it all? When did the wheels of destiny begin to turn?’

The narrator continues, finally reflecting on the times they laughed “under azure skies.” This sense of reflection and longing persists throughout the game itself. Even my own history with the game reflects this sensation as I’ve spent over two decades waiting to play it, listening to the soundtrack, reading articles about it had read and hoped all along that it would come out in Europe at some point.

Finally, earlier this year, the revamped version of the game – The Radical Dreamers Edition – gave me what I was longing for. It’s not a perfect game; There are performance issues and the narrative is messy and mind-bending. Ultimately, though, it still feels special. In part it’s because it gives such a strong sense of SquareSoft in the original PlayStation generation, a time that lives in my heart due to my love for older Final Fantasy games. The beautiful pre-rendered backgrounds, the music, and even the aforementioned opening movie all have roots in that specific SquareSoft era of the ’90s, when we (in England, at least) laughed under a sky that was gray rather than sky-blue.

Even playing it so much later, the mouth catches my eye at the beauty of the remaster’s backgrounds, like the blue velvet water of Termina and the honeyed sky over a cliff with birds slowly flying by. Sometimes these backgrounds even surpass those of the Final Fantasy games of the time.

The Radical Dreamers.

It’s not just about nostalgia, however; Chrono Cross is a world of possibilities and choices. Decide to take a specific character with you at a certain point in time and you will no longer be able to have the protagonist’s childhood friend in your party. Decide to go on a mansion with a shady magician and you will miss out on the amusing antics of a selfish “hero”.

You’ll keep seeing small, emotional scenes of other characters delving into their own interests, and I find that at times I remember these more than the main plot. A young woman and a man visit a grave with a sword stuck in the ground. A bitter boy misses his father and stays on the house balcony and paints. A doctor sits in a bar, swallowed up by the uproar. The protagonist’s villagers wonder what would have happened if they had chosen other things – if they hadn’t given up what they wanted most.

An observation from the Eurogamer review by Edwin Evans-Thirlwell is very pertinent here when he notes that the characters and such are “haunted” by their different versions in the twin reality/world. That haunting, bittersweet sense of life’s possibilities is what impresses me the most when I play. Anything that is possible is scary, invigorating and sad. One character insists that it’s not about knowing which path would have been best for him. He just wants to know where the other would have led. My path finally led to this game in 2022 and I am fascinated. Games 2022: The Radical Dreamers had the most radical dreams

Fry Electronics Team

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