Reviews: I Am Setsuna

Serviceable, but underwhelming and overpriced.

I was looking forward to I Am Setsuna when it was first announced. I personally don't feel that JRPG's in general need to "go back to their roots" as some would say, but the inspiration from Chrono Trigger and the promising setup and setting was enough to pique my interest.

Upon actually playing the game, I think the game didn't really hit the mark it was aiming for.

To begin with, the plot and characters are underwhelming. For a genre throwback like this, you of course are expecting something fairly traditional, but the execution is just consistently underwhelming across the board. It's not the worst writing I've seen, but just makes you wish you were playing any other number of games that did the plot beats and character types of this game a lot better. On top of that, the plot has some pretty forced turns later on which were off-putting. There are some moments that are slightly more interesting or worthwhile, but they are few and far between.

As an addendum, the way the game treats the main character Endir is fairly annoying in a way I don't often see. Setsuna bringing him along on her quest makes little sense give the circumstances, and since Endir is a silent protagonist we don't really see development on his part to make it more believable. On top of that, the game repeatedly presents you with dialogue options that are completely meaningless and have no impact on anything. Of course, many games have dialogue choices that are mostly just there for flavor or to give the character more of a personality, but the most substantial thing you ever get from them is the option to be quickly reprimanded or dismissed by the other characters, which has absolutely no relevance beyond a text box or two.This happens over and over again and it just gets obnoxious.

The game's low production values hinder it. While the actual compositions are nice, the fact that the piano is the sole instrument in the soundtrack gets to be a little bit tiresome. The snowy setting is pretty and evocative at first, but it begins to get old as things start to blend into one another.

The gameplay is reasonably fun and has some cool additions to the Chrono Trigger battle system...but I didn't REALLY start to see the full potential of it until the game was practically over.

Overall, Setsuna is a passable JRPG, and if you've already exhausted most old school games in the genre and want something similar, it can be good for that purpose. However, there's the fact that it costs 40 dollars; paying so much for an ultimately mediocre experience is just not very justifiable.

Consider this: for 40 dollars, I could go on PSN right now and buy 4 PS One classics. Unless you're an extremely dedicated JRPG player, you probably haven't fully exhausted the older entries in the genre and can still find other older games to play that are straight up better than IAS. For around 10 more dollars you can also buy Bravely Default, which, for all its issues, is much more fun.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/reviews.php?target_group=VideoGame&target_title=IAmSetsuna