Tokyo RPG Factory is a new development studio from RPG juggernaut Square Enix. Zach Webster got a chance recently to sit down with its inaugural game, I Am Setsuna.
Square Enix is having quite a big year in the genre it helped popularize. Led by Deus Ex and Final Fantasy XV, most of the rest of the company's foreseeable future is filled withbig-budget RPGs. However, that isn't all Square Enix has to offer, also bringing with it the throwback RPG I Am Setsuna. Firmly established in the tradition of Chrono Trigger, I Am Setsuna is one of the more pleasant demos I got to play on the showfloor.
The demo began right at the start of the game, where I took control of Endir, a mercenary assigned to rescue lost members of his village. The opening mission acts as a tutorial but not an overly long one as it follows Endir as he searches for a missing girl. Along the way he meets some unfriendly penguins and an abominable snowman of sorts, which he must dispatch in order to see the missing girl to safety.
Combat in Setsuna feels like an iterative improvement on Chrono Trigger's. The demo had Endir as the only playable character, who stood in place while enemies on screen moved around him. The game features a classic ATB system, with actions only able to be executed when the bar has been filled. Initially there was only a basic attack, which would hit the selected target, repositioning Ednir in order to do so. It wasn't until later that I began unlocking techniques through the use of Spritnites. Spritnites are equippable items that unlock the use of techs whether they be passive or active. Only one slot was unlocked during the demo but eventually characters will be able to have up to ten.
The one technique I did find while playing was Cyclone, a standard physical AoE performed by Ednir spinning his sword. The range was good and cleared through the penguins easily, but became less useful when going up against the abominable snowman. This monster was a bit tougher and was also the fight where the game introduced Momentum Mode. Momentum is an additional in-battle resource that can be used to augment existing attacks by pressing a specific button during an attack while Momentum is built up. A properly-timed Momentum attack can add an extra hit or cause Singularities that otherwise change the outcome of an attack. Momentum is built by dealing or being dealt damage, but interestingly enough can also be built by simply waiting with a character while at full ATB. While a bit underserved by the limitations of the demo, this mechanic feels like an interesting alternative to something like an overdrive and may have even more possibilities in the full game.
After defeating the abominable snowman and rescuing the girl, the tutorial stage ends with a foreign knight asking Endir if he would be willing to travel to an island to kill a young woman. This is significant because the woman was chosen to be a sacrifice for the well-being of the island. This leads in to the plot of the main game, where Endir becomes the guardian of Setsuna, the chosen girl.
I Am Setsuna is the kind of title designed to appeal to the nostalgic among us, but that isn't exactly a bad thing. The combat was fast and dynamic enough for the demo, what little music I heard was pleasant, and the game's wintery setting complements the dark and somber tone. It helps that the game looks like a high resolution version of a game lifted directly from the PlayStation era. I Am Setsuna is already out in Japan, but the rest of the world can get the game on July 19, 2016.