I Am Setsuna is the newest Japanese Role-Playing Game (JRPG) from Square Enix. It was released July 19, 2016. It is available for $39.99 on Playstation 4 and Steam for PC.
The first thing I noticed hands down was the music. The music is relaxing and beautiful. At times, it echoes the classic Final Fantasy theme and at others themes from Chrono Trigger. My stream viewers commented on how beautiful it was again and again.
For a sample of the music, here is the game’s official trailer where the music shines:
The story is really about Endir, a mercenary, who is hired to kill Setsuna in the first scene of the game. Setsuna turns out to be the chosen one for this world’s cyclical human sacrifice trope. The party members are adopted one-by-one as they accompany her and Endir on her journey to sacrifice herself and protect her from those who want to kill her to prevent her sacrifice. Each member of the party gets their moment in the spotlight. This game shines in terms of character progression and backstory for each playable character. Overall, the story itself doesn’t hold a lot of surprises but I still cared about each of the characters anyway.
Graphically, the game takes old school 2D world maps and upgrades the scenery and backdrops to new school Japanese painting, similar to Ni No Kuni. The gentle snowfall is a theme throughout the game which blends beautifully with the piano-based soundtrack. There are no battle-specific backdrops, as all fighting occurs on the open map.
The fighting style retains a turn-based style coupled with the ATB gauge. The player has the option to wait with a full gauge and let “Momentum” build, allowing them to perform special moves or do bigger cooperative moves between more than one character. Once in awhile, Momentum pops up with special bonuses called Fluxation that benefit your party for a given duration.
There are only two types of gear to maintain and upgrade in this game, weapons and talismans. This streamlined approach lets you spend less time in the menus maximizing your party’s gear and more time working on the story. The weapons are fairly straightforward. The talismans appear to give you special upgrades to your abilities, but the exact way in which they work is a little opaque. I just gave my healer the one with the word “healer” in it and tried to match up the rest with which ones appeared to be for physical versus magical damage.
The character abilities, called Techs (just like in Chrono Trigger), in this game are acquired by use of spritnite. These function similar to materia in some of the Final Fantasy titles. You acquire spritnite by selling various materials dropped from monsters throughout the game, which the merchant then transforms into spritnite for your party. Weirdly, you can’t “sell all” even though it appears that the expectation is to sell all the components since it’s your main way of acquiring gold. That’s a bit clunky.
Overall, this game was very enjoyable. Some parts weren’t especially innovative or unique, but the game successfully played on the nostalgia of Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy. The addition of Momentum to the battle screen was fresh and interesting, and the visual and auditory aspects of the game were soothing and beautiful.