Preview

I Am Setsuna

An Old-School, Somber Tale
by Kimberley Wallace on May 24, 2016 at 03:05 AM
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Tokyo RPG Factory
Release:
Rating: Everyone 10+
Platform: PlayStation 4, Switch, PC

Iam Setsuna has captured a lot of buzz since its reveal, where Tokyo RPG Factory noted it was inspired by classic RPGs, ranging from Chrono Trigger to earlier Final Fantasy games.  After getting some hands-on time, it’s easy to see that influence and feel nostalgic, but I am Setsuna also immerses you with its beautiful music and tragic story. The more I played it, the more I was drawn to the world.

I am Setsuna starts off simple: As a young mercenary named Endir, you help defeat the monsters invading the land. As you search a snowy forest to serene piano music, you come across a vicious bear holding a woman hostage. During the encounter the classical piano score revs up its intensity. 

The active-time battle system is reminiscent of Chrono Trigger, right down to combo attacks that you can unlock once more members enter your party.  For now, it’s just a matter of waiting for my bar to charge to unleash attacks, as they’re on a cooldown before I can use them again. Edir can also use tech attacks to hit multiple enemies at once. This comes in handy for the pesky penguins I face after I defeat the bear and save the girl. There are no random encounters, but being in the vicinity of an enemy will trigger combat. 

Edir comes back from rescuing the woman to an interesting proposition. He’s told about an 18-year-old girl and a ritual called the “village of sacrifice” where once every 10 years a sacrifice is chosen. He’s told to kill this young woman, who’s set to be the offering before she goes to the Last Land to fulfill her destiny. After tracking her down, you find out her name is Setsuna and she’s warm and friendly. Endir begins to raise his sword, but villagers storm in, coming to her aid and capturing him.

Endir may be imprisoned, but his chance to prove himself comes soon enough: monsters are attacking Setsuna’s village. Setsuna refuses to leave Endir to die, coming in to free him from the magic that’s restraining him. She has an immediate trust in him, even though moments ago he tried to kill her.  Her friend, Aeterna, isn’t as trusting, but they don’t have time to waste and decide enlist Endir. 

This is where battles get more interesting, as I now have a three-member party. Combo attacks are extremely powerful, such as X-strike, which lets Endir and Aeterna team-up and attack the enemy in an X shape for deadly damage. The battle system also offers an interesting decision: you can build up your SP points by not attacking when your bar is full and store up to three turns. This allows you to unleash a charged attack or tech with timed button presses. Positioning also matters, and some of your attacks can knock enemies back. More importantly, characters all have unique perks. For instance, Aeterna can deal two hits to one enemy, while Endir can target multiple enemies at once. 

I’ve only scratched the surface of I am Setsuna, but so far it’s promising. I can’t wait to see how deep the battle system goes, and the soundtrack stands out as it drives so much of emotions associated with each experience. Most importantly, the story is already haunting me. Will Endir really let Setsuna die?