I Am Setsuna promised to scratch the itch of the classic JRPG fan who longed for the days of turn based battles, Active Time Battle meters, (known more commonly as ATB), and a more methodical game play style. After delivering on a multitude of platforms, Tokyo RPG Factory is back at it with Lost Sphere, a spiritual successor that continues the style introduced by Setsuna. With a new world and new cast, much of the early moments of the game manage to hold onto some familiarity with the first game while showing off a few new tricks in the Comic Con demo on display at Square Enix’s booth.
Using an identical graphic style to Setsuna, Lost Sphere recreates the classic feel of a 32-bit era RPG while using chibi style 3D models for the characters to match the dimensions of the world around them. Much like Chrono Trigger, enemies are spotted on the field, and any enemies around them will join the battle once its time to draw swords. From there, you’ll manage your party by deciding to attack, use special abilities, rely on items to get you out of a pinch, or defend to help reduce unavoidable damage. Positioning plays an important role, since most attacks have a certain radius that can lead to dealing damage to more than just your target, but this is where the biggest change in Lost Sphere surfaced.
With some of the abilities offered, they allowed the characters to line up their attacks to get the most out of them. For example, a shot from one of our allies could potentially pierce through their enemy, draining the HP of any foe unfortunate enough to be lined up directly behind them. While Setsuna did have attacks like these, Lost Sphere made it more noticeable, which in turn made it easier to plan out how we wanted to do the damage. As an extra layer of strategy, it helps the game feel like you’re doing more than just picking options in a menu. That kind of engagement is what separated the great RPGs from the rest back in the day, and it’s no different now.
After exploring this sample of the game, I’m looking forward to seeing what other ways Lost Sphere separates itself from I Am Setsuna. With this classic style of engagement taking a backseat in recent years for more flashy, real time combat, it’ll be interesting to see how far we can ride the nostalgia wave. If the developer’s previous efforts are any indication, then I can’t wait to play more of the game when its released in 2018. With PS4, PC and Switch support, we’ll be able to keep on adventuring whether we’re at home or on the go!