Let’s take a look at five reasons you should be excited for I Am Setsuna. The JRPG promises to designed in the vein of classic JRPGs.
Everyone is excited about the upcoming release of Final Fantasy XV. It looks like it will be a wonderful game with some innovative mechanics, but I think fans should be just as excited for another Square Enix release that’s happening on July 19th: I Am Setsuna. The game promises to return to the JRPG’s roots and provides an interesting, and important, contrast to Final Fantasy XV. The latest Final Fantasy will attempt to reinvent the formula of the JRPG for the modern age. I Am Setsuna will do the opposite and create a gaming experience reminiscent of the JRPGs of the 1990s. I feel this is just as revolutionary since traditional JRPGs tend to be somewhat dense; I mean that in the best way possible. So let’s look at some reasons why we’re excited for I Am Setsuna.
Experiencing The JRPG’s Roots
In the last few years, traditional JRPGs have been going through a small revival. Square Enix released Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light and it’s spiritual successors, Bravely Default and Bravely Second. Both games got a lot of praise for returning to their uncompromising JRPG roots. On the other end of the spectrum, the new Doom game has experienced some positive vibes – and big sighs of relief – from fans because of it’s old school inspirations.
I Am Setsuna promises to be forged in the same fires. This is beneficial to dedicated followers of JRPGs as well as people just getting into the genre. To the old fans, I Am Setsuna will be a return to form and a reminder why they’ve always liked the genre. However, more importantly, it’ll give new fans a taste of genre’s foundations and deep roots. Players who’ve cut their teeth on the newer iterations of the Final Fantasy series will be in for an entirely different experience. If the experience is a positive one, I Am Setsuna will open many doors to a plethora of old school JRPGs.
I Am Setsuna’s Battle System
In promotional materials for I Am Setsuna, the game’s battle system is unabashedly compared to Chrono Trigger’s battle system. Chrono Trigger utilized the Active Time Battle system first introduced in Final Fantasy IV. A timer gauge fills up gradually during battle and, when full, the character can take an action. The rate at which the gauge fills up depends on the character’s statistics. What made Chrono Trigger’s battle system stand out from other JRPGs of the time was that players could see the enemies on the map. When the characters made contact the battles will begin right then and there without having to shift to a separate battle screen.
While in battle, certain abilities, called “techs” can work together with another character’s techs. The combinations result in a different, more powerful attack. Each character has eight different techs, so there’s plenty of room for experimentation. Having this battle system come back in the form of a brand new IP will most likely be one of the highlights of I Am Setsuna.
An Emotional Story
The story follows Setsuna, and her bodyguards on a literal quest of sacrifice. Once every 10 years, a sacrifice must be made to a fiend that lives on the island where the game takes place. The sacrifice is made to ensure the safety of the land. However, the fiend becomes restless and wants a sacrifice early. This is where Setsuna comes in; she is to be sacrificed. It’s up to her bodyguards to escort Setsuna to “The furthest land” in order for the ritual to take place. This means players will be spending a lot of time with these characters, especially Setsuna.
It will be interesting to see the turn of the events. Will the bodyguards allow to the sacrifice to take place? Will the player? People familiar with JRPGs know that most of their stories hinge on the themes of friendship. A good JRPG creates an effective relationship during combat and story sequences. As mentioned before, some battle techniques depend on working with the other characters to create attacks; the game places an emphasis on character interaction. It’ll be interesting to see these relationships build, but with the knowledge that a character must be killed in the end.
I Am Setsuna’s Beautiful World
The gameplay trailer opens on a dark snowy forest. Throughout, we see different environments all covered in snow and beautifully realized. The graphics, environments and character designs all look classic, but at the same time new; this might as well a be the game’s slogan. We see bits of a world map reminiscent of the classic Final Fantasy games. The snow and winter motif gives the game an moody, ominous, chilling – pun intended – feeling as if the land itself is privy to the grim task that lies at the end of Setsuna’s journey. The director of the game, Atsushi Hashimoto, remarked in an interview that he wants players to think of the game as “an RPG of snow.” Snow has many thematic connotations that will surely make the story even more poignant.
The Future of the JRPG
I don’t think that I Am Setsuna will only appeal to fans wanting a nostalgia trip. Earlier I mentioned that the game will find new fans in players who want to explore the JRPG’s roots. The goal of this game to is garner appreciation for those mechanics. Current JRPGs are on a mission to continuously reinvent their battle systems. This return to form could help remind developers that the original systems still work just as well. According to a PlayStation Blog article written by Square Enix, “The game development studio behind I am Setsuna is called Tokyo RPG Factory and their goal is to carefully create RPG’s of yesteryear, merging the nostalgic elements from the 90’s with today’s technology.” If I Am Setsuna proves to be a financial success, than we can probably look forward to a host of new old-school RPGs.
I Am Setsuna’s creation, and its revival of the traditional JRPG isn’t just to remind people of the existence of the genre, or its roots. The timeless mechanics are timeless for a reason. Newer mechanics and narrative can’t become too out of touch with what made these games great in the first place.