As more JRPG games come out over the years, the classic feel that everyone used to love in games like Chrono Trigger have been slowly diminishing due to developers taking a more action-orientated approach. While there are still franchises that stick to the classic JRPG formula like the ‘Tales’ series by Bandai Namco, others have completely changed. Most of the JRPGs these days have gone from the traditional turn-based combat to real-time fighting. Well, one developer called Tokyo RPG wants to bring back the classic formula that veterans of the JRPG genre love through I Am Setsuna, a game that gives a classic JRPG feel with modernized graphics. Is I Am Setsuna a new game that old-school fans will still love?
I Am Setsuna starts off with Endir, a mercenary who id 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.
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.
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.
I Am Setsuna is the definitive game JRPG fans have been looking for. The game gets most of its mechanics from the classic JRPG genre that will ultimately give its fans that nostalgic feeling. While it’s not a AAA game that you would expect from Tokyo RPG, the value of the game is worth spending money on as it has an interesting story that gets you through to the end, well polished and likable characters, and of course a battle system that completely innovates that ATB system. For gamers who never liked the classic JRPG games like Chrono Trigger due to its age and really classic feel to it, skip I Am Setuna but for anyone who really is looking for a game that gives that nostalgic feeling, I Am Setsuna is the game you are looking for.
[Editor’s Note: I Am Setsuna was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]I Am Setsuna Review,