I Am Setsuna Review
For years, fans of several RPGs from the golden era of the genre have been crying out for sequels, prequels or something new. Since then, we’ve been given enhanced ports, remasters, a couple of remakes and some unlicensed sequels(ex. Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes). However one thing that’s not prominent in that small list is “original IP”. As sad as it is to say that, we as Gamers understand that it does take a lot of hard work, devotion and resources to create something entirely new. But what if…what if we were given something new, but also gave us something from the Golden Age? Well kids….that’s what you get in I Am Setsuna!
First thing I want to point out that this game is NOT developed by Square-Enix, but another developer called Tokyo RPG Factory. According to sources around the Interwebs, Tokyo RPG Factory was started with the mission of creating new games that are reminiscent of RPGs of the past. Hell, the front page of their website says:
“Countless adventures captivated us when we were kids. Now it’s time for us to return the favor with adventures of our own.”
Back to the game, I Am Setsuna takes place in a completely snow-covered world littered with various islands, settlements and other places. The titular character Setsuna, is a young woman from Nive Village; a village with a tradition that is considered tongue-in-cheek yet necessary by the rest of the world. Without spoiling too much, let’s just say Setsuna and Yuna from Final Fantasy X share a similar occupational hazard. You, however, play as a mercenary that was hired to kill her but due to some unforeseen events, that task gets replaced with protecting her. Again, I don’t want to spoil anything because…well…that would just be a dick move. So, enough about the story!
Off the bat, veteran players will recognize the “Tech” option during a battle and immediately think Chrono Trigger. Now while the battle system is an ATB (Active Time Battle) system used heavily during the Golden Age of RPGs, don’t get too excited. Yet.
The battle mechanics are identical to Chrono Trigger, but with a few differences. You can choose to attack, use Techs (and Combos when available) and items as well as switch between characters who are ready to use a turn. However they added a nifty feature called Momentum Mode. How this works is each time an action is taken, or a character’s ATB gauge is allowed to remain full, a separate “Setsuna” gauge begins to fill. When full, it grants a “Momentum” charge which may be expended at the player’s discretion to grant power boosts to the character’s actions. These boosts can include dealing multiple versions of the attack, recovering health, or dealing critical damage to an enemy. So as an example, the Tech called “Aura” can heal a member of the party. But if you use the ability in conjunction with Momentum mode, you’ll heal that character and remove any negative status effects. So Momentum Mode is incredibly useful and tactful when it comes to some of the game’s more lengthy and tough battles.
So, remember when I said don’t get too excited? Yeah, this is the one part most folks may or may not like. In the case of Techs, you don’t naturally learn them as you did in Chrono Trigger by accumulating SP or Skill Points. Instead, Techs are accessed by equipping “Spritnite” onto you character. Aside from Command Techs, you get access to Passive Techs. These Techs remain active during battle and can be quite useful and downright lifesaving in the later areas of the game. But how is Spritnite gained? Well unfortunately, I Am Setsuna does not have a currency-reward system, meaning that you don’t earn money after battles. Instead, you sell various parts and materials won after battles with monsters (Think Monster Hunter). The materials earned from monsters changes depending on how you kill them, so you’re going to want to change up your battle tactics depending on what type of material you are in need of. Now these materials are sold to merchants from the Magic Consortium and unloading all of what you have will not only get you a metric fuckton of money, but will allow you to grab any Techs you have the materials for. I know it sounds confusing at first but trust me, it’s super simple. You can also upgrade your current weapons, provided you have the materials for it as well. So worry not! The game isn’t THAT unusually cruel!
I will say that this game is amazing. From the characters, to the battle system, to the overall somber overtone…I Am Setsuna is an excellent choice for any of you RPG veterans who truly want to play something that reminds you of the good ol’ days. It pretty much features just about everything from the Golden Age of RPGs but with some new content that balances out very well with the old stuff. The music is phenomenal as the entire score is completely on solo piano and really makes you feel what the characters feel. There are NUMEROUS references to other RPGs of the past and they are all fun to find…especially the Frog/Glenn Doll! I Am Setsuna is currently available digitally on the PlayStation 4 and Steam so….you know…go get it!!
9.5 out of 10
Until next episode…