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JRPG: I am Setsuna




Yes, I went ahead and played this, having pre-ordered it on Steam. I've been pumping about three hours a day into it since it came out and my final level for my main party was 47 (which seems to be low, but that is apparently because people go for the 'beat the boss without weakening him first' trophy, pfft).  This is a game designed to bring nostalgia to the minds of those who are fans of the SNES and PS1 eras, and in that sense, it definitely succeeds.  It utilizes a battle system copied from one of the most famous kamige jrpgs of all time, Chrono Trigger... with a number of additions, both big and small.  The world map is also reminiscent of that estimable game... but the resemblance pretty much stops there, save for a few other superficial elements.

First, I'll give you a basic rundown on the story concept.  Endir, a mercenary swordsman, is sent to a certain island to assassinate a young girl, and it is there that he finds out that she is destined to die in any case, giving her life for the sake of the world, to appease the monsters.  It really is, from the very beginning, a story of compassion, driven almost entirely by Setsuna herself, with Endir as a sounding board, more than anything else (your choices as Endir are fairly irrelevant). 

It is easy to love Setsuna.  She is kind-hearted and genuinely compassionate, as one would have to expect of someone who is going willingly to their death to save the world.  As a character, she has, of course, been 'done before', but that isn't as problematic as you might think, considering how the entire VN is meant to stab you with nostalgia about as subtly as driving a nail into someone's forehead, lol.

The world map's design style is identical to Chrono Trigger's (albeit with modern graphics), and many of the skills are drawn straight from that game, name and all... though there are about five times as many skills total.  All skills, save for a few found in chests and a few defaults, are obtained by selling items gotten from monsters to the Magic Associations, which gives you their 'Spritnite' if you sold them enough of the right item.  There is no need for more than one of the 'command' type spritnite, as each character's techniques and magic are unique to them, so don't waste your 'budget' of sold items by getting more than one of any of them, lol.  Support spritnite are another thing entirely... these give various effects, ranging from stat boosts to healing you when you kill enemies, and using them strategically can make the game immensely easier. 

Most monster drops need you to meet certain conditions for them to be dropped, ranging from killing enemies with a specific element, killing them with damage close to their exact hp, or overkilling them (there are other conditions, but those are listed in the monster encyclopedia, so there is no need for me to go into detail here).  This can be a bit of a pain when it comes to items from bosses, but you can re-fight bosses in certain dungeons opened up in the late game, so don't worry too much about it, lol.

One of the positives of this game is that there are multiple characters capable of healing... to be specific, both Setsuna and Endir can serve as healers, as well as damage dealers.  Not being bound to keep any one character in your party just to survive can be immensely helpful... especially when their attack element is useless against the local enemies, hahaha.

The atmosphere of this game is not just shaped by the setting... but also by the music and the world itself.  Piano music dominates this game, giving it a somewhat 'realer' feeling than a lot of the half-synthesized music that is common in mid to low budget jrpgs.  However, while the tunes are just fine for activating your emotions, they tend to blend into one another after a while.  The world... is defined by snow.  Literally.  Blizzards, your feet leaving a path through snow drifts, monsters rolling balls of snow both before and during battle... this game is based in winter, and it doesn't even try to be anything other than a world in winter, hahaha.  Both aspects can leave you numb after a while... but the game is short enough that it isn't that noticeable if you play it in digestible bites of a few hours at a time.

Story-wise... I'd say that the writing/localization is several levels above what you used to see in the same era as Chrono Trigger (one aspect of that era that I am glad is gone is the weirdly inconsistent translations).  The basic plot is classic jrpg, with endless excuses for taking the long route to get to the final destination, lol.  The ending is... a bit of a letdown, from my point of view.  I honestly don't see why they chose the classic 'dialog-free' ending type that used to be common in SNES era jrpgs, even if they were going for nostalgia, hahah.

Overall, this is a first-rate effort, for what amounts to a mid-budget VN directed at retro-gamers.  It goes for the emotions, it ignores the intellect, and it breaks the fourth wall at times (you'll see what I mean if you go to a certain place once you get the airship).  In other words, it is a classic 'save the world' style jrpg, and for those who like the older console-style jrpgs, it is pure crack, though it does leave you wanting more (I'm probably going to yank Xenogears out and play it again sometime soon, lol).



Recommended Comments

6 minutes ago, Decay said:

I heard that the game was way too somber for its own good. I'm not sure I want a deathly serious take on Chrono Trigger.

As I said above, the resemblance is mostly in superficial elements.  For better or worse, the Chrono Trigger resemblance seems to have been used to draw in retro-gamers... I never really took that part of things that seriously, lol. 

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Would you say this game is comfy?

I've been waiting for the indie pixel generation to end so we could get the indie early psuedo 3D-accelerated graphics generation to begin, it looks like it's finally upon us.

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1 hour ago, ExtraMana said:

Would you say this game is comfy?

I've been waiting for the indie pixel generation to end so we could get the indie early psuedo 3D-accelerated graphics generation to begin, it looks like it's finally upon us.

It isn't indie... it's a subsidiary of Square-Enix.

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