Also available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and Windows
I Am Setsuna is the first game made by Tokyo RPG Factory, a development team created by Square Enix to focus solely on producing role playing games. For a first effort, I Am Setsuna is an extremely impressive experience. What first drew me to the game was the art style; the game has an almost watercolor aesthetic that's absolutely beautiful and the type of artistic flair that I rarely see in video games.
At the core of the gameplay is your standard JRPG. There's not much in the way of frills or groundbreaking new innovations. It uses an active battle system, so it plays a lot like a modern Chrono Trigger, and as anyone who's played that game knows, anything that makes you feel like Chrono Trigger is a good thing. You assemble a party of seven characters over the course of your journey - mine were named Bhutseks, Samus Aran, Zelda, Cronoxilla, Mr. Popo, KeyGlyph, and Buttz - each of whom have their own focus and uses, leading to some diverse strategic options.
The story is a mostly generic JRPG narrative with a slight variation. You, of course, are accompanying a "chosen one" - Setsuna (or, in my game, Samus Aran) - on a quest to quell a surge in monster attacks and save the world. Your main player character is from a tribe of mercenaries who always wear masks. I guess they're from Halloween Town or something, I don't know. It never explains why they always wear masks (or, if they did, I wasn't paying attention). Anyway, story elements happen, and you're part of Setsuna's guard to protect her on her journey to the Lost Lands to offer herself as sacrifice to appease the monster gods or whatever. I don't want to explain much more than that because, while not the most original thing in the world, the story is very well told, and it would be doing a disservice to spoil any of it.
The art directions really steals the show here, though. The whole world is covered in snow, and that snow-covered landscape gives the game a fairly unique feel as far as 2D JRPGs go. You keep expecting the environment to change - we've become accustomed to a variety of biomes in games - but start to finish, the world is a winter painting. The visuals have an almost watercolor quality that make the game really stand out. I cannot stress how beautiful this game is. Playing on Switch, I was playing at 720p30 instead of 1080p60 on PC and PS4, but the game's art style isn't so realistic that the drop in resolution makes a huge difference (especially when that 720p is on a small handheld screen). A 60 FPS frame rate, I must admit, would have been nice, but the 30 FPS on Switch is consistent with no dips that I saw, and as we all know, a consistent frame rate is always better than one that fluctuates.
I Am Setsuna is a fantastic RPG experience. For Tokyo RPG Factory's first product as a new team, it's fantastic, and it has me eagerly awaiting their next project. It doesn't break new ground for the genre, but what it does, it does very well. It has the feel of an indie game (a good one, not that dime-a-dozen pixelated shit) despite being published by a huge company and developed by a team owned and created by a JRPG juggernaut. In addition to Switch, it's available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and PC, so most folks have a platform on which they can play it. It's not a "masterpiece," but it's an amazing experience nonetheless that I absolutely recommend to all JRPG fans.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm Mr. Deck
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach history at a high school in central North Carolina; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.