I am Setsuna: Tokyo RPG Factory’s first game hails back to days gone by, a time when the Super Nintendo was the in-thing (or SEGA Megadrive in my case!)
I am Setsuna is similar in its execution to the older titles that were the norm for that era – ones like Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger are a prime example or what has inspired this new release. The tale itself is your usual old-style JRPG fare – save the world from an unrelenting evil. You play a mercenary named Endir, and your task is to escort the titlular Setsuna and keep her safe from harm, and deliver her to where she is to be sacrificed to save the world.
(DVDfever Dom: Reminds me a bit of road trip movie The Last Detail where Jack Nicholson and Otis Young were having to safely escort Randy Quaid to naval prison – since, ultimately, they won’t thank you for it!)
On your journey, you will meet people who can become members of your team. These characters, like many of the games this title is based upon, are typical JRPG stereotypes – troubled teens who think you are up to no good, people who want to make sure Setsuna gets to where she is meant to be going to save the world, and so on. Your team can have three members at any given time which can be swapped out when not in battle, so you can mix it up and have characters that fit your play style. I usually go for a melee-type fighter, a healer and a support-type character.
The world itself is pretty bleak and mournful – it is forever winter and quite melancholy. The conversations between characters have an underlying sadness, and this feeling is portrayed throughout your time in the game.
Visually, the game itself does look really nice, but feels a little wooden. You have an over-world map where there is little to see and do; it’s just there to join the areas together. The areas, themselves, are enclosed and quite linear with only a few branching paths that will either lead you back near the start or a dead end with a chest that can be opened which, of course, will be locked and need a key. The game is done with Unity, so scales well across different systems running just fine on a laptop with Intel HD graphics and a Celeron processor. My mine gripe with the graphics is that I feel they are zoomed-in a bit too much. I like to be able to see a bit more of the environment when playing third-person RPGs (such as Diablo and Torchlight).
The gameplay takes you from area to area with the above mentioned sections filled with monsters. Like other similar games, the combat is turn-based and the further you get into the game, the stronger the general monsters are, while there are a few boss fights thrown in for good measure. I Am Setsuna uses a familiar ATB style of combat (Active Time Battle); this is where your attack gauge fills up, and once it has, you can either use magic, attack or an item for that turn. You also have Momentum attacks – this is a ball which fills up alongside your normal bar. Once this gets a light above it, you can do combo attacks with another character (provided they have at least one light). These attacks are dependant on the character with which you perform the combo.
For example, the first member to join your team can do a powerful cross-attack which performs a one-hit enemy kill, and kills enemies early on, and if enemies are close together, you can take multiple numbers of them down at once. The magic system – Spritnite – essentially gives you strong attacks that require magic points to pull off. The system is pretty simple as you just equip the spells through your inventory. However, obtaining new spells is pretty convoluted – you can get items from the world that then have to be taken to a Magic Consortium member found in towns, where you offload unwanted items for said new spells. It can be a bit tiresome at times.
The sound on this game is beautiful, but a little lacking. There is no voice work at all, not even a Japanese voice with subtitles. The music is done with a sole piano which ups the tempo or slows down depending on your current situation – this is what sounds beautiful. After a few hours, though, it starts to wear a bit thin, and I found myself muting my PC.
All in all, I Am Setsuna is hoping to rekindle childhood love of the old JRPGs. In some ways, it is pretty effective in doing so. However, the bleak writing and the interwoven sadness can be a little offputting, even though you have quirky characters with attitudes at times.
There are no advanced video options – you can select resolution and that is it. There are also options for changing control from keyboard to joypad, English or Japanese text, or running the game windowed or full screen.
Lately, I have been using a wired Rock Candy Xbox one controller on all my games. On this, though, I can get into the game but I cannot select anything with the A Button – I had to get out my failing 10 year old wireless Xbox 360 pad or be forced to use keyboard controls.
Yes, it’s a good game but there are better titles out there for half the price. The excellent Tales of Symphonia is available on Steam, and is just as awesome today as it was back on the Gamecube. There are also the classic Final Fantasy games for a fraction of the current price (£29.99 on Steam for I Am Setsuna, presently)
I do want to like this game, but after playing it for nigh on 10 hours now, I have grown weary of it, and have been going back to other titles like Tales of Zestiria/Symphonia and even had a play on World of Warcraft to break things up a bit.
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Players: Single player
Director: Atsushi Hashimoto
Writers: Makoto Goya and Hirotaka Inaba
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!