Tokyo RPG Factory is a team unveiled by the Square Enix Company to produce classic RPGs in 2015. I am Setsuna is the first title to be launched and developed by the team. It was released on July 19th, 2016, on Steam and PS4.
Inspired by the golden age of JRPGs, I am Setsuna seems like a mix that contains elements of both the classics like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI with brilliant characters, soothing piano music, and an enchanting story to keep you in the game. Confusing and unbalanced gameplay elements get in the way, but not enough to slow down this mesmerizing and alluring journey.
Its story revolves around escorting young Setsuna to the Last Lands to accomplish her duty of human offering, an act every ten years to protect the snowlike world from the curse of the monsters that roam on it and prey on weak people.
Along the way, Setsuna (you) will meet many other adventurers who join your cause and travel through forests, caves, and ancient ruins. Eventually, they all reveal their reasons for joining the cause in accompanying young Setsuna on her journey. Sometimes you will get to know which character is about to join the party by seeing their portraits when you start talking with them.
The characters are all fun and never bothersome. They are all fun to play in their way.
- Aeterna is an overprotective friend of Setsuna with a bit of an attitude. She knows what she must do but struggles with sending her friend off to die.
- Endir is a mercenary who is on the way to Nive Village to kill Setsuna, a mission given by a Mysterious Man but later on, he has a change of heart.
- Julienne is the strong, conflicted protector of Royburg, her home, as she suffers from a split personality.
- Kir is a powerful mage who seems to join Setsuna’s party at random but eventually proves to be much more valuable.
- Nidr is a swordsman who just wants to be left alone, but later we get to know his back story is much more complicated.
- Setsuna is a kind-hearted girl who tries her best to remain positive and helpful even though she carries a heavy burden.
Looking at friends staying together and being supportive of one who has such a terrible fate is truly overwhelming. These instances provide some of the needed intensity and perspective. There are a few cheerful moments among the characters, but they never feel unacceptable.
Since the game mostly takes place in a snowy mountainous region, you would think it is getting repetitive. But not many regions have their own established identities. The hidden village of Hiddbury. Offers a calming mood with lanterns that lighten up the snow and bring warmth to huts deep within the forest. The numerous ancient ruins that you would explore are infused with an unsettling atmosphere.
Each region has its sound work and can capture the essence of that respective region. Thus, we can see that all the places have their individuality and essence, which makes the game more entertaining and immersive. It makes you want to look forward to what the next region holds for you. The music, texture of the region, looks of the region, the NPCs, and the colours.
Similar to many RPGs, a good amount of your adventure is spent in combat, which copies the features of the old games like the Active Time Battle system. There are no such things as random encounters or random enemies on the world map. Instead, every enemy is visible while you are in the particular selected zone, and the monsters start moving into battle positions when you approach them.
Enemies will move about during combat, but there is no option or control over the party’s movement. There is some control only in the case of certain commands. Each character has its basic characteristics like strength, speed, or magic, but their foundation is dependent on the selection of skills known as techs. Like Final Fantasy VII’s Materia system, techs are gained from magical stones known as Spritnites, slotted into special Talismans.
Some techs can cause damage, make your party stronger, or even make an enemy attack you. Cyclone is one such example that causes wide area damage when used against an enemy There are some techs such as this one, and more powerful which makes the monster encounters insignificant when used consecutively and makes the game less interesting.
Since there is a limit to the number of equipped techs, it is important to choose them wisely to create working with the team easier. If the party members have the right techs chosen, then they may be able to perform combo attacks like the ones in Chrono Trigger, X–Strike.
Lining up the techs to get the most out of them is a horrendous task for which you either have to be lucky and try out various methods. Another easier approach would be to just refer to a guide online to create a lineup of the techs you would like accordingly.
Techs can be enhanced using the Momentum system. Techs cannot be levelled up by fighting but instead by obtaining materials from combats selling them to merchants, and then buying Spritnites. During the fights, the SP meter collects charges through attacking, standing still, or defending.
When the meter gets full, you can use it to unleash the charge through one of the skills or attacks, making it more powerful than it is supposed to be. Sometimes this momentum system triggers certain singularities, which can help fill the meter faster, but the game does not do a good enough job to help us understand what causes the singularities to occur, thus making it just a lucky encounter.
Stats like attack, defense, and magic attack hits can only be increased by equipping new weapons. Purchasing new weapons becomes a common and repetitive thing after a while whenever you reach a new village. There is also no armor slot to focus on either. This, in a way, is good as it helps keep track of only one accessory, which would be the weapon.
There are still some things that are not up to the mark like you can not stay at an inn anymore, and you would have to buy a tent, then leave the overworld and pause the game to use it. There is also the lack of a RUN button which makes it hard to escape if suddenly some rare monsters pop up, resulting in a GAME OVER. The only hope is to hope that you have saved the game before fighting with that monster.
Also, since they tried the top-down camera angle, which was in Chrono Trigger, it was replicated in this game, but it does not feel right as I am Setsuna is 3D and Chrono Trigger is 2D. Also, picking up the sparkles in Chrono Trigger was fun, but in I am Setsuna, it is just everywhere.
In Chrono Trigger, the chest used to play mysterious music and say it is sealed with mysterious energy, but in I am Setsuna, it just says it is locked and spoils the fun. Thus, ruining the curiosity and mystery. Honestly, no one wanted to compare the game to the classics such as Chrono Trigger, but Tokyo RPG Factory has themselves on the store page written that I am Setsuna is a game inspired by Chrono Trigger, which raises the standards quite a lot.
Tokyo RPG Factory has performed a fine job of capturing the nature of classic JRPGs with I am Setsuna. It feels like home or what one would call isolated (in Japanese terms). Its splendid gameplay and soundtracks give a nostalgic feeling of the classics like Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger.
Though the game is unbalanced and holds back the creativity of the combat, it does not let the emotional tone and the feeling of playing more die down. It is a really fun game to play as long as you do not think you are going to buy Chrono Trigger 2.
It might not be a classic, but it gives great homage to them. Our rating for I am Setsuna is 4 out of 5.
Our Rating: 4/5.