I Am Setsuna is one of my most favorite JRPGs that was released last year on the PS4. Hoping that it would go portable on the PS Vita or Nintendo 3DS as playing this kind of game on-the-go is always a plus, the game has now been ported to the Nintendo Switch. Playing through the game for the second time around is great since I can now get my old-school RPG fix anywhere I want thanks to the portability of the Switch.
The game starts off with Endir, a mercenary who is hired to kill a girl named Setsuna, a sacrifice who will go on a pilgrimage to save the world. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned for Endir as instead of killing her, he is then given a task to be her bodyguard and join her. Joining Setsuna and Endir are several more characters that make the story more interesting as you progress. Compared to other classic JRPG games, I Am Setsuna follows the simple, yet satisfying storyline that gets interesting as players go deeper into the story. It may be predictable but there are some unexpected plot twists that surface. Yes, the cast that joins the entourage all have captivating stories to share and they really make a big contribution in shaping the overall narrative.
To get players engaged in the storytelling and narrative, there are parts where Endir will have to make a choice. Unfortunately, regardless of the choices that you pick, it really does not alter how the story goes. Even choosing a different piece of dialogue does not change the course of the story or you actions. It would’ve been great if your choices actually made a difference to the outcomes of the characters.
Content wise, there’s supposed to be an exclusive DLC releasing sometime in April in Japan. It’s a Battle Arena that allows players to acquire battle data from other players and battle them to get rewards. It’s unsure if the North American version will get it, but it’s very likely to happen.
As for its gameplay, it does offer the Active Time Battle system that everyone is accustomed to if they played the classic Final Fantasy games or Chrono Trigger. For new generation gamers who never had a chance to play those games, this may be a huge turn off, but for myself, it was really a good feeling seeing this feature return to the game. The downside of the Active Time Battle system is that every battle can take a long time as you have to wait for your turn. When it’s your turn to attack, you will have to choose your action and the ATB gauge will start filling up again. Luckily, there are no random encounters as the enemies are on screen and can be avoided.
The skills or tech that Endir and other characters uses follow the traditional JRPG style. Each character has unique skills or magic that they can use. Some who are compatible with each other can team up to do a joint attack to make it more powerful. As with skills, a MP will be used, so it’s important to have a stock of potion that restores MP. In terms of learning skills or magics there is this thing called “Spritenite” that you can obtain by selling certain items dropped by monsters. Finding this NPC that gives out Spritenite will allow you to sell these items and exchange it for a Skill that Setsuna or other characters can use.
One new interesting twist has been added to the battle system to make it somewhat feel fresh at the same time and it’s the Momentum system. Whenever the ATB gauge gets filled up, one momentum gets added and up to three can be collected. These momentum points gives you an extra buff by pressing the Square button when attacking. The downside in collecting momentum points is that your character will have to wait for several seconds as soon as the ATB gauge fills up and it’s guaranteed that they will get damaged. So it’s really up to you whether or not you want to get damaged and get momentum points or simply go with the flow and ignore it. Pretty much this new momentum point system innovates the battle system and it’s quite interesting.
Visually, I Am Setsuna uses modern-style graphics that still take after the classic JRPG approach to the game. The somewhat birds-eye view gives access to players to see completely diverse environments. Character models are well drawn and the concept art for the character portraits are polished enough. Unfortunately, the not-so-big budget for the game can be seen due to low textures and color palettes that have been re-used. As for the linearity, it’s somewhat linear though there is a reason to go back to older maps as there are locked chests that you can open in the latter parts of the game. There is that classic world map where you can actually walk on it to go from one place to another.
For the Nintendo Switch version of I Am Setsuna, not much has changed. It’s the same exact game that many have played last year on the PS4. In terms of performance on the console, I didn’t see any slowdowns or frame rate issues at all. In fact, it actually plays nice and I haven’t encountered any single hiccup. The visuals are vibrant, though I’m still hoping that Square Enix should’ve at least put some voice overs on the game’s important cutscenes.
Voice overs aren’t very common is the game so don’t expect any. Since the game is roughly 2GB, don’t expect any CG cutscenes either. What you see is pretty much what you get. If there’s one thing that annoys me, it’s the soundtrack that really ticks me off due to the continuous loop it does. The BGM gets used pretty often but hey, the game is good enough for me to neglect it.
Overall, the Switch version of I Am Setsuna is identical to the PS4 version. It is still the definitive game JRPG fans have been looking for despite the flaws we previously found on the PS4 version such as its monotonous pacing. If you have not played it before and you have a Nintendo Switch, I must say that the best way to play it is on the Switch as you can play it anywhere and this is the type of game to bring along when you’re outside – plus you can always dock it and play it on TV. Either way- you got the freedom to play wherever!
[Editor’s Note: I Am Setsuna was reviewed on Switch platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]I Am Setsuna (Switch) Review,