Chop's Thoughts On: I am Setsuna
I recently purchased I am Setsuna for the PS4 thanks to a great sale going on PSN. I've been wanting to play it since its release in July 2016 but haven't felt justified in spending the full $30 for the game since anything that boasts as the "Spiritual Successor to Chrono Trigger" leaves me skeptical. I'm not an early adopter too often for games and when they fall into a category that I really enjoy such as JRPG's (Japanese Role Playing Games), I like to leave some breathing room for reviews to come out and some gameplay to surface. I've been burned before on games (ahem...Valkyria Chronicles) and I like to spend my money on games that bring an equal or greater return. But enough with my musings, lets get into my opinion of the game.
As a JRPG made in the modern day but respectfully making reference to the ones of old, I felt right at home. Starting with the first scene of a loan character walking and a semi recognizable sprite I was drawn in. The landscapes are current but the appeal is there in the obvious lack of detail. The characters look unique and different but the proportions are very similar: Over-sized body parts, bright colors, tapered feet. The game has charm and nostalgia.
Your main character of the game is the typical silent brooding type where they modernize this archetype is through dialogue choices you can make every now and then. So he's not really the silent type if I think about it more but that's what they were going with. Either way it was a tasteful way of reminding you of the time where diaglogue was one sided in a lot of JRPG's and you felt like the hero of the story. And with I am Setsuna you're able to impact how other characters react to the protagonist Endir based on what you say back. Now the choices don't leave any lasting effect on the game but it still adds personality to the world and the people.
I'm not going to go into much detail of the story for the game but know that it is your typical JRPG story-line but with flare. You are on a quest that you aren't sure you can complete let alone you were thrown into. You meet people along the way, some join you some fight against you but everyone fights the monsters in the game. Very pro monster hunting this game is. Your group becomes formed, bonds are made between characters but ultimately the quest catches up to you and hard choices have to be made. I was drawn into this story unlike most games these days because it was simple yet executed well. The story pulls you forward, there's some side quests but nothing is obviously thrown in your face to pull you away from the main objective and most importantly you feel satisfied regularly from beating bosses and clearing area's without being rewarded with pointless achievements. Its what I've been hoping to get out of modern games these days but it has been few and far between.
One of the more surprising aspects of the game I found was the play-ability after you've beaten it, or the "post credits" game-play. I found sub quests that I didn't know existed resulting in extra boss fights, trophies you can unlock, and even different area's to explore. Now there isn't a DLC's worth of content after the game but for something that is a modern retelling of an old genre it had ample to do. There was even a nod to the aforementioned Chrono Trigger on one specific island...but you'll have to play it for yourself to find out what that is ;)
For those of you who don't know much about JRPG's they are typically Turn-Based style. Meaning you take turns fighting...pretty simple. I am Setsuna did a fine job bringing the old fighting style to show but added some flare to make it more interactive and unique. There's particular fighting commands, combos, and variety to allow each character to shine and to make you want to defeat enemies differently every time. In fact, there are certain items that you get from monsters that only drop when you defeat them a particluar way. Such as debuff kills, elemental kills, exact damage and over damage kills, and many more. This variety allows you to change your strategy to meet your play style but to also allow you to get certain equipment based on experimenting. This style of item finding originally had me concerned because I don't like to be an all magic guy or a debuff master. I prefer straight up physical damage into obliteration, but I found myself trying new ways to play because it was fun. A strange concept I know! The magic system partnered with this battle system made for an interesting yet familiar game play.
Now that I've spewed my love for this game I'm sure you want to hear what's wrong with it. Well, the game does have flaws but not many. I'd like for more time spent in the world and/or more to do in it. I get that it wasn't a $60 game and it falls into a niche category but if it was a true successor to Chrono Trigger then it should have more to do in it. The content that is there is great but I wanted more. Some small tweeks to the menu system and travelling could help but that's just petty changes that I found after putting many hours into this game. There is also a point where a new character joins your party but it's rather late in the game and I didn't feel like it was important to play them at all. I was upset by it because they are very interesting and different from the characters in the party already but I'm near the end of the game and I've got my group set and I didn't feel compelled to change it. I would have liked this character to show up a little later or add something in the game to nudge you into using them more.
Overall this game is worth it. Did the money meet the time for this game? Absolutely. Even if you spend the full amount on the game you won't be disappointed if you're a JRPG fan. If you don't like Turn Based fighting then I'd suggest you look else where. You can beat this game in 15-20 hours but I recommend you spend more than that to get the full experience. I've almost gotten the platinum trophy on this game because I like playing it so much and I don't normally do that...ever. Trophies are dumb...but I want this one.
Buy the game. Reminisce and hope for more games to come out that provide this type of reaction from you. Game on!