Square Enix published I Am Setsuna for the PlayStation 4 and PC as a downloadable game only last year, and this year for the Nintendo Switch. I decided to work my way through the game, recently, in order to bring a just review of I Am Setsuna, enabling you to decide whether or not this title is a must-buy.
The following review was made after playing it on a PS4.
The story of I Am Setsuna is based on a girl called Setsuna, who has been chosen to be sacrificed in order to soothe the angry demons in the land.
This is not the first time a sacrifice is being made, since it is a never ending cycle for the world. This time Setsuna has been chosen to be sacrificed, and now must make her way to the area where the ritual will take place. Along the way she meets a number of people who accompany her on her journey, making them huge assets.
A mercenary by the name of Endir, had been tasked of murdering Setsuna, but joins her side when he gets to know the implications of his job. And that is the point from where the game actually begins.
I Am Setsuna not only makes you run through the game, fighting enemies and leveling up your characters, but also explores emotional burdens that come with making tough decisions throughout the story.
If you have played a specific Final Fantasy title before, you would automatically know that a lot of the story elements feel nostalgic. And if you have not, then let me tell you that the game is none other than Final Fantasy X.
Tidus and Yuna, who were the main characters of the game, had to reach a specific place in order to complete the pilgrimage that was said to take Yuna’s life in exchange for the welfare of the people of Spira. We can see the same plot develop here, but a much more tear-jerking adventure is present in I Am Setsuna.
For people you have played Chrono Trigger, I Am Setsuna’s combat system will remind them pretty much of the it since that’s where the inspiration for the battle system has been derived from. The fighting style is pretty much the same, but also has its own charm. The good thing about it is that even though the battles are quite repetitive, you don’t really get that feeling at all.
I Am Setsuna follows battles a bit differently than what Final Fantasy titles do. For starters, you don’t randomly encounter an enemy and get into battle mode, but instead you can see your enemies on the battlefield and, by choice, engage them in a fight.
This puts the decision in your hands, making you feel safe if your health is quite low and wish to run to the nearest shop to get potions.
The Active Time Battle (ATB) system is also present in I Am Setsuna, which makes your party members first fill the ATB gauge and then choose an action to perform.
You have a total of three actions to choose from in battle; either Attack, Tech, and Item, or Attack, Combo, and Item. “Attack” is the standard attack a player does, “Tech” focuses on using techniques to win the battle, “Combo” lets players deal a series of attacks, and the “Item” option lets you use items to either heal yourself or inflict damage on the enemy.
The way you gain money in the game is quite different to what RPG’s usually offer. You don’t get any loot from enemies after beating them, and instead you get materials.
You can also get materials which are found lying around the world map. In order to gain the in-game currency, you have to sell all the materials you earn throughout the game. This is the first time we have seen any JRPG follow this kind of gameplay.
Leveling up in the game will not get you much boost in stats. If you do level up, your hit points and magic points are the only two things that will increase.
In order to boost your attack and defense stats, you will need to buy weapons. And so because of this, you always need to purchase weapons whenever you enter a new town. This can become a pain if you don’t have enough materials, but once you do, taking on challenges become easy as pie.
Apart from following the main quests, you can also take on sidequests. These sidequests are essential for you if you wish to get the best of abilities earlier than near the endgame.
When you have earned a lot of abilities, you will experience some difficulty in choosing which ones to keep, since you can’t equip all of them. And because of this, cross-referencing multiple menu screens, in order to use those abilities, will be quite off-putting.
The game’s visuals look quite good but not as good as a next-gen title. Although we understand the fact that I Am Setsuna was aimed at providing more of an old school experience in terms of gameplay, the visuals should not have been downgraded.
For a game to be developed by Tokyo RPG Factory, a company under Square Enix, I was slightly disappointed for not getting to see visuals as good as any other Final Fantasy game.
And let’s not forget to mention, that even though the graphics aren’t that top notch, there are framerate drops in certain areas. Long loading times is also something I encountered often, which is quite off-putting for a game of this calibre. I Am Setsuna runs at 30FPS, which can be seen as a problem by players who will be playing it on their PCs.
The game’s soundtrack is something I fell in love with as soon as I started the game. All of the compositions composed in the game are full of piano performances, leaving me surprised as to how much a single instrument can have an impact on the game and as well as the heart.
My most favorite trackof them all was “Path of Redemption”, seconded by “Winter Journey’s Tale”.
The composer is Tomoki Miyoshi, who has also worked on Soulcalibur V, ARK IX, and Steins;Gate. He has also worked alongside the legendary composer of the Final Fantasy series, Nobuo Uematsu; so now we know where he gets his inspiration from. And thanks to his work on I Am Setsuna, we feel a sorrowful nostalgia emanating from it.
I Am Setsuna was a great game to play, but lacked in a lot of areas.
Character building is poor, and feels like it was rushed. Unlike in Chrono Trigger where you got to understand and like all the characters, with each of them having a different personality, I Am Setsuna is horrible at portraying each character. It feels like the whole game was designed in a way to focus solely on the story and gameplay.
The protagonist is too boring, making the game feel like a chore to play. Sure the game is gloomy and does not offer much in terms of lively characters nor small hysterical moments, sitting through a game that only concentrates on battle elements is just something few people can take.
But thanks to the amazing soundtrack of the game, I was able to finish it without getting bored or tired of pure repetitiveness.
A game that costs $39.99 and offers only 20 hours of gameplay, when it was told to give 40 hours, is just something I don’t advise people to buy.
The best thing to do would be to wait for a price drop, or a sale. I Am Setsuna comes close to offering that nostalgic experience I wanted since I first heard of its announcement back in 2014, but fails to deliver what it sought out to do. But if you are a JRPG fan, and love to listen some old school music, go ahead and buy the game.