Square Enix hopes its new title, I Am Setsuna, will get a similar reception to many of its beloved PS1-era classics. Zach Welhouse offered some further thoughts on the game's E3 demo.
Like Zack Webster, I had a chance to play I Am Setsuna at E3. However, I played a little further than him in the demo and wanted to share a few extra observations.
Just like Zack, I was soon enchanted by how I Am Setsuna echoed and modernized Chrono Trigger. In this case, "modernized" isn't a dirty mask for microtransactions and non-stop cutscenes: it's an opportunity for the game to look and sound incredible. Nive Island's soothing piano matched its melancholy atmosphere and is well-suited to the inevitable YouTube remixes and performances that will inevitably result. Tromping around the mountains to fight waloompa — horned walrus beasts — left a trail in the snow behind my character. When the battle started, the rest of the party fanned out and we fought seamlessly on the same screen. On the nostalgia front, the overworld straight sidled up and whispered, "Remember Chrono Trigger? It's that game you like!" directly at my eyes.
When Zack's impression ended, Endir travels to Nive Island and fails his assassination attempt. After a dash of swordplay, Setsuna asks her village to forgive Endir. She needs a guard for her journey: she's about to travel a long way to be sacrificed for an important purpose. Endir may as well protect her until she gets there. That way he's still able to uphold his original "kill Setsuna" plan while helping everyone at the same time. Naturally, no one is certain of Endir's motivations. After agreeing to help, he hops on a ferry with Setsuna to deliver her to the sacrifice site. They're joined by Aeterna, a speedy woman in a hood, who's able to use magic to augment her physical attacks. Their ship is attacked by a dangerous sea serpent, who almost laid me low despite a strict regimen of attack-attack-heal.
During these interactions, I dug into the interface. The Monster Encyclopedia, which populates automatically after facing enemies, reveals otherwise unexpected facts about them. For example, if the waloompa is killed with an Exact Kill it will always drop the item Iron Snowsand. When other monsters are killed by specific Singularity attacks, they trigger other effects. Battling is a familiar experience, but the new wrinkles offered by ATB boosts and Momentum Attacks keep it engaging. Come July 19, 2016, players will be able to see how these abilities scale as the game becomes more complex.