Among the titles available in the Nintendo Switch e-shop since launch, this one really stood out to me as an RPG fanatic. Here’s an I Am Setsuna Review, a quality little PS1 era JRPG. If you’re into that sort of game with turn based combat and encounters, this title will make you very happy!
I Am Setsuna Review – Borrowing from the Greats
If you look at the screenshots I’ve included here, you’ll see what looks like Final Fantasy. In fact, though it’s been published by Square Enix it’s actually from a little developer called Tokyo RPG Factory. You’d be forgiven for mistaking this for a PS1 era RPG remake, because it has the same top down look and cartoony graphics style.
I Am Setsuna actually borrows many of its mechanics from these older games too. There’s an ATB system in play during battles, a world map complete with airship and familiar feeling menus for equipping accessories and weapons. Even the story is perhaps a little too familiar. I won’t spoil the details, but suffice to say that right from the beginning there are echoes of a particular Final Fantasy entry.
While the game does re-tread many feelings from other games, it handles them well. Everything feels expertly designed and there’s enough depth in the battle system to keep you occupied.
I Am Setsuna Review – What Makes it Different
When I am Setsuna does dare to do its own thing, it tends to work really well. I’m quite fond of the soundtrack, which is played exclusively on the piano. It changes tone and momentum to suit the situations that play out on screen. It’s quite amazing to see such a range of moods so expertly punctuated by what is no doubt a pianist with very sore fingers.
The ‘Active Time Battle’ system in play might be familiar to JRPG veterans. I Am Setsuna augments this with a mechanic that allows special effects to be added to abilities if you choose to wait on an action, rather than popping your attack as soon as the gauge has filled. Waiting allows characters to enter momentum mode, which as well as the aforementioned perks to your attack, can also result in better rewards of items and experience points.
Abilities are handled through acquiring items known as Spritnite. The abilities fall into several categories covering offense and defence. The Spritnite themselves are acquired through trading items that drop from enemies. In every town a vendor from the Magic Consortium waits to buy your drops from you. They then offer Spritnite abilities in return. It’s unorthodox sure, but works well and gives a nice feeling of progression.
The battle system goes still deeper than this through Flux Bonuses, which allow you to upgrade certain abilities under special circumstances. What really is apparent in the game is just how focused everything is. There’s none of the ‘fluff’ from your typical JRPG. You’ll find no Chocobo races with infuriating seagulls that’s for sure.
I Am Setsuna Review – Tight and Harmonious
What I really like about this game is the way the developers have focused so tightly on their goal. That approach has even manifested on the world itself. Everywhere in game is covered in snow, it’s a proper winter wonderland. The trees build up a coating that eventually crashes to the floor. Your characters and their enemies plough little trenches in the snow as they walk.
All the elements of the battle system come together to produce something engaging and fresh. The story, while not ground breaking, is plenty to keep you interested. The game has certainly borrowed much from its peers, but made each individual element work together admirably.
The streamlined design means you’ll probably only spend thirty or so hours with the game. It’s certainly not a behemoth that’s packed with diversions or optional bosses. What is here is very enjoyable all the same and worthy of your time if you’re a JRPG aficionado.
As with all Switch games, I still think it’s worth pointing out that the proposition here becomes all the more interesting when you consider the portability factor. This is a quality, if streamlined, JRPG that you can play on the go, suspend instantly and pick up again on the TV when you get home. That’s a hell of an attractive prospect!
It certainly filled the time nicely before Lego City Undercover arrives on Friday!
I Am Setsuna is also available for the Playstation 4 and PS Vita.