I Am Setsuna is the first game from Tokyo RPG Factory and their main focus going forward is to create JRPG style games that I remember growing up playing.
JRPG style games were hugely popular in the past with games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy but that genre of turn-based combat faded slightly and we now see open world RPG’s like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Even Final Fantasy has changed from turn-based action too much more open world action in FF15. JRPG’s were known for their exploration within certain environments and turn-based battles that were almost like a mini game within itself. I Am Setsuna is a love letter to JRPG’S of years gone by and it has some fantastic elements along with some aspects that hold it back slightly.
The first thing I noticed about the game was the atmosphere and beautiful music. The game takes place in a snow-covered world that looks fantastic and the music feels ethereal and reminiscent of Final Fantasy games. Characters trudge though snowy environments from a top-down perspective. The music is quite simply stunning and is probably what I will remember the game for, with its unique piano based soundtrack.
At the start of the game you play as an assassin known as Endir. You make your way though the first area, learning the basic controls and mechanics before being confronted by a stranger who offers you the mission to kill a young woman, who is in fact a sacrifice to save the world. The woman is known as Setsuna and she must give her life to put a stop to monsters and beasts attacking towns and villages. I wont give too much away about the plot, but I really loved the premise and it reminded me of playing Final Fantasy games when I was little.
The game does a great job of creating unique environments that feel full of mystery and intrigue, with villages scattered throughout. You will gather various tasks and missions throughout the game, which more often than not, see you making new allies along the way. It’s also important to mention that you can miss new characters entirely, so I felt the urge to explore as much as possible. Characters are unique and interesting to talk to and they always add something to the game or had something interesting to say.
The combat in I Am Setsuna is what you would expect from a classic JRPG, with turn-based battles against AI that can move around a specific combat area. You can use a mixture of physical attacks, magic and potions to heal yourself, the game also has a critical meter for each character. Once the meter is full, you’re able to hit the square button to use a much more powerful attack. You can equip and use different types of weapons and items that can make your characters much more effective. The combat is very similar to Final Fantasy 7 and I Am Setsuna has obviously taken inspiration from the popular Materia mechanic.
I Am Setsuna has a feature known as Momentum which can be altered using the games ‘Spritnite’ system, where players can utilize different objects and then use different skills and boosters. The best way to become more powerful is by picking up items from beasts you have killed. The items dropped by enemies vary depending on how you beat them, like fire attacks or Exact Kill, which is where you kill an enemy in the perfect amount of hits to deplete their health bar. I loved this aspect and think it works well because it encourages you to try out different attacks and weapons. Enemies are varied but they could have been more interesting as they rarely felt threatening. The game for the most part is fairly manageable but towards the end things do start to become more challenging. The game also has more than one ending, so its worth replaying to see how things can unfold differently.
The presentation of the game is simply fantastic, with beautiful environments and unique setting. The world is full of detail and the animations of characters look great. I absolutely loved the way the characters leave trails in the snow and the sound of crunching snow with each footstep. Unlike the static environments in say Final Fantasy VII, the world here moves around you and feels alive, with trees swaying and snow twinkling in the light. The sound design is great, with the piano based soundtrack adding depth and emotion to the narrative and gameplay.
Overall I Am Setsuna is a fantastic game that gave me a nostalgic kick whilst having its own unique charm and style. I loved the setting, story and characters and the combat has enough going on keep me engaged throughout. I would highly recommend this game if you like classic JRPG’S like Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger and its also a great game to try out if you’ve never had the chance to play this type of game due to its inviting world and accessible gameplay.
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