As a new dad, I don't have all the free time to play video games like I used to, and RPGs are my favorite type of game to sink my teeth into. As I approach the final chapter of I Am Setsuna, I feel that this game developed by Tokyo RPG Factory is exactly what I'm looking for in a game right now.
While as far as JRPGs go, I Am Setsuna is perfect for me in this moment for several reasons. It is short, which is necessary for someone with little time, but wants a game with substance. I've only played about 20 hours, and I'm walking to the final boss now. Also the game, while not amazing, is great, and a wonderful throwback to the RPGs of my younger years, like Chrono Trigger or Breath of Fire. And frankly, the combat system is a near clone of Chrono Trigger's.
I Am Setsuna is set in a seemingly bland, snow-blanketed world where once every decade or so a magical maiden must make a journey to sacrifice herself to save the world from monsters that want to destroy the small pockets of humanity left on these snowy islands. You take the role of Endir, a mercenary tasked with killing the sacrifice. However, Endir is persuade by the sacrifice, Setsuna, to join her guard, and escort her to the Last Lands where she will be sacrificed. As things tend to go with JRPGS, you pull together an intrepid band of adventures and societal misfits to make the journey. This may seem like a somber game, but even with the impending sacrifice, assassination, and death, the game remains fairly lighthearted.
You would think a game with all of these recycled ideas from the battle system to the fairly predictable opening would be off-putting, but it felt warm. I'd relate I Am Setsuna to wrapping an old blanket around you. It's familiar, but not blatant coping. Regular battles are simple with basic attacking, healing, and magic to walk through each dungeon without much challenge. However, the boss fights are where the mechanics of the active time battle system shine. Without careful management of spells and combo, sometimes I didn't think I'd make it through these challenging fights.
While well deserving of praise, I Am Setsuna isn't without issues. The main problem is the repetitive nature of the setting. Every town is a small snowy town, and every dungeon is a snowy mountain path, frozen cavern, or technologically advanced tower. The lack of diversity in the enemies was quite obvious as well. Most were reskinned version of previous monsters.
Even with these flaws, I Am Setsuna's characters, mechanics, and story were on point, and the lovely piano soundtrack plays perfectly into the game's melancholy mood.
TL;DR - I Am Setsuna is a great homage to the RPGs of the SNES and PS1 eras, dipping heavily into the genres plot and characters. The sad yet enjoyable story of the game combined with the battle mechanics make I am Setsuna a must for fans of the genre. Though not without faults, I'd say it is definitely worth your time and money, and I can't wait for Tokyo RPG Factory's next JRPG.