Now Playing | I am Setsuna

  • Developer: Tokyo RPG Factory
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Release Date: March 3rd, 2017
  • Playing on: Nintendo Switch

The Gist

If anyone even whispers the name Chrono Trigger I perk up a little bit because, Breath of the Wild aside, it is perhaps my favorite videogame of all time.

It came at a time in my life where I thought maybe I was starting to outgrow my hobby and overthought the social ramifications of going into high school with the type of geek cred that was all but damning to an anxious teenager. Instead it cemented in my mind why I love them by being this perfect encapsulation of everything that was good about them and why it will continue to grow as a medium. I’ve never waivered since.

Although I always look for that spark again and again, especially when someone name drops it in association with another role-playing game, I realize that it’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime shot in the dark that somehow managed to hit its mark. However, I can’t fault developers for taking Chrono Trigger and trying to apply its lessons to their work. They may never live up to my extremely lofty expectations, but it’s usually still pretty fun to watch them try.

While Square Enix pushes Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest ever forward, there’s a division called Tokyo RPG Factory that’s more interested in recapturing the feel of 16-bit JRPGs than seeing how many zippers they can add to a leather jacket or how spiky they can make hair. Their first effort, I am Setsuna, takes a lot of mechanical cues from Chrono Trigger as well as a dash of the more melodramatic story elements, but it stands out on its own for its morose plot and frigid environments. It’s not an attempt at surpassing Chrono Trigger, it’s a love letter to it.

The Goal

According to How Long to Beat I am Setsuna is roughly a 20-30 hour adventure, a tidy but lean amount of time for a JRPG. For the most part it’s a very linear journey that lacks the perceived expansiveness that a lot of older Final Fantasy games used to dupe us with. Each party member has a main side quest you can dive into in order to do a little backtracking and lore digging, but there’s also the tempting Snow Chronicles, which works as an in-game journal that tracks everything from your bestiary to the locations you’ve been to the items you’ve collected. Under normal circumstances I can usually take or leave such a feature, but there are completion percentages at the main page that make it every tempting to try and find everything. I fear there may be some Knights of the Round type quests that might deter me, but we’ll see.

Regardless of any dalliances of completionism, I’ll be satisfied discovering the truth about the sacrificial pilgrimage and watching the credits roll.

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