I Am Setsuna – Review
Follow Genre: (J)RPG
Developer: Tokyo RPG Factory
Publisher: SQUARE ENIX LTD
Platform: PC, PS4
Tested on: PC

I Am Setsuna – Review

Site Score
9.0
Good: Atmosphere, Old school fun
Bad: Mechanics might be too simplistic for some
User Score
10.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Square Enix is probably most known for the Final Fantasy franchise, even though they now also hold the rights to Hitman and Tomb Raider, and many other older well-known franchises. Nonetheless, it’s Final Fantasy that is immediately linked to the mainstream publisher. Older fans of the franchise know where Final Fantasy comes from and probably don’t always like the changes the series is currently undergoing. The games used to have sturdy turn based combat mechanics, which is now being converted to hack and slash combat and skipping the turn based formula altogether. Nonetheless, the worlds are magnificent and the Final Fantasy universe is once again blooming with the upcoming release of Final Fantasy XV. That being said, there are those who long for the good old days, and this is where I Am Setsuna tends to quench your thirst. Old school mechanics, in a beautiful next gen coat, we were very intrigued.

I Am Setsuna

Story

While the story has many characters, you’ll start off with Endir, a sword for hire, one that is slowly but surely making a name for himself. You get noticed by many who are in need of help, but some are seemingly on the wrong side of the law, as you are approached by a shady figure to track down a girl who is about to turn eighteen, and slay this adult-to-be. Even though you don’t get that much extra information, you embark upon your journey to Nive island, home of the girl you’re supposed to kill. Setsuna, the teenager, is the sacrifice that has to travel to the Last Lands, in order to give her life to a noble cause, which will prevent hordes of monsters invading this world. The last sacrifice hasn’t been that long ago, but for some reason more and more monsters are appearing, Setsuna will serve as a deterrent for the monsters, or at least so they hope.

You meet Setsuna, and have the chance to take her life but you hesitate. Before long you meet her personal guard and her father, who entrap you, but Setsuna has something else in mind, namely she wants you on her security detail. She wants you to travel with her to the Last Lands, the final stop of her journey, where you are allowed to end her life, as she is forfeiting her life anyway as the sacrifice. You agree, but even from the beginning it’s clear you aren’t a bad guy.

After mere minutes into the game, you notice a rather sad undertone, and this remains throughout the course of the game, which might be heavy to some, but it also adds a bittersweet beauty to I Am Setsuna. For an old school RPG, the game trots along quite nicely, all while new characters are being introduced.

I Am Setsuna 1

Graphics

Brand new, yet old school, is probably the correct way to describe I Am Setsuna. While the characters have a simplistic air to them, the environments and the eye to small details are simply stunning. There’s nothing more pleasing to see that your band of heroes leave their tracks in the snow or flaunt their newly equipped weapons, all while playing in a top down perspective which was common nearly a decade ago. The 2D style of the old Final Fantasy games makes way for a 3D style, that has a certain cuteness surrounding it, making the game attractive for a wide audience. Overall the developers left no stone unturned when it comes to details and the stun factor of the game.

Sound

Classical piano tunes set the mood, especially when you’re exploring the different parts of the world. Most of the time a tranquil soundtrack accompanies you, and with it being in the foreground for the most part, it kind of drives you further and further, properly setting the atmosphere. While the game is void of any voice acting, the music makes up for the lack of spoken dialogue.

The soundtrack is quite diverse, but some tracks return often yet they never become bothersome. Combat is marked by the same tunes, and just like in the Final Fantasy franchise, you’ll get a very fitting victory jingle at the end of combat, creating a certain point of recognition you tend to look forward to.

I Am Setsuna 2

Gameplay

I Am Setsuna is an old school RPG game, that doesn’t hold you by the hand like many newer RPG games tend to do. You’ll be roaming around, looking in every nook and cranny, all while progressing your journey of escorting the sacrifice to the ‘Last Lands’. Grinding, uncovering new items and gear and picking your ideal party will all pass the revue.

Overall things are very simple to get the hang of, but some are harder than most games nowadays. Even though the game is quite linear, it doesn’t hold your hand all the time, forcing you to properly read the dialogues onscreen, to see where you have to go, who or what you have to look for and so on. The mechanics however are rather simple, you are dropped in a turn based battle system, that uses the Active Time Battle mechanics from the older Final Fantasy games. This means that a meter will fill after you strike your enemy, and when it’s full you can either attack, use a skill or one of your items. If you dawdle too much, your enemy’s meter will also start filling, thus if he decides quicker on which moves he wants to perform, he might just hurt you pretty badly if you keep hesitating throughout the course of the battle at hand. The game also has a ‘momentum’ system, where you can opt to wait before performing an action, which causes a second meter to fill, and if it’s filled you can use it to do extra damage, or have an increased effect from spells. You can charge this meter three times, granting it three stacks, which you can use in dire situations.

There’s only one annoying aspect about combat, namely that you and your enemies seem to muck about randomly, often switching positions, sometimes placing you in range of attacks, purely at random. The latter can be quite frustrating when your enemies do a self destruct, always hitting you in the process, simply because your character decides to step closer.

I Am Setsuna 3

As you progress through I Am Setsuna, you’ll have more and more people joining you on your crusade, but during combat you’ll only be able to place three active characters. This means you’ll have to plan, switch from time to time to level everybody but you can also just play with the characters you fancy the most.

The gear and skills system is equally as simple, as you’ll have to equip skills with Spritnite, which will unlock skills depending on which Spritnite you equip. Other than that you’ll only be able to equip a weapon, which you can buy stronger variations of in towns, and talismans, which grant you passive bonuses. There’s no elaborate system for armor or other items and truth be told, we didn’t really miss a complicated system, as you don’t earn that much money in the game and buying new weapons already costs you a pretty penny.

Difficulty wise the game is fairly manageable. Some battles require proper timing, planning and you keeping your wits about, but the game never truly becomes annoyingly impossible. Nonetheless, be sure to save often in the overworld, or when passing save points.

Conclusion

I Am Setsuna is a beautiful homage to (J)RPG games of the good old days. While the game doesn’t only grip tightly around mechanics that are still solid after several decades, the stage setting of this game also shows how viable a game such as this is in the present day. If you’re in for a story that might make a few tears roll down your cheeks, while the perpetual snowy plains and villages offer you rather breathtaking views, and combat is hard but rewarding, this title will surely grant you many nights of pleasure.

I Am Setsuna 4

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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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I Am Setsuna - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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