E3 Impressions: I Am Setsuna: A Return to Form for Square Enix

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

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I Am Setsuna | Logo

I Am Setsuna is one of those games I’ve kept hearing about but have purposefully kept myself in the dark regarding it. I wanted to really tackle this with no expectations and I’m glad I did, as I now find myself rather intrigued by this title. While Final Fantasy XV is Square Enix’s attempt to be “Leading-Edge,” I Am Setsuna instead seeks to be the return to form many fans have been asking for, it seems. Let me go ahead and detail my experience and I think you’ll see why.

I Am Setsuna | Header

A group of fans who have been waiting a long long time for a return to form.

When I asked the attendant to tell me a bit about I Am Setsuna, she told me that the combat in particular was very reminiscent of Chrono Trigger and I could easily see why. I Am Setsuna’s battle system makes use of many of Square Enix’s older battle mechanics. The Active Time Battle System (ATB) is in place, for one. Once the bar by your character’s name fills up you’ll be able to take an action. Of course, enemies also have their own bar, even though you can’t see it. Techs also make a return from Chrono Trigger, including combination ones. While I wasn’t able to use any during my playthrough I could see a few listed in the menu. Finally, there’s one more interesting thing. If you let your ATB gauge fill, there’s another meter by your character that will fill. Once it’s full you’ll gain an orb of light that adorns the gauge. You can hold up to three of these at once. If you press Square when you attack an enemy, you’ll do a more powerful strike that can also produce additional effects. This reminded me quite a bit of the “Timed Hits” mechanic from Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. I suspect there’s even more to this mechanic, but I wasn’t able to see it in my brief playthrough.

I Am Setsuna | Throne Room

Speaking of Super Mario RPG, am I the only who who thinks this looks a lot like the Chancellor’s Throne Room?

After starting the game, I found out that I was a mercenary and would be teaming up with an older one who would be acting as my tutorial guide basically. Our goal would be to rescue a young girl who was taken by some monsters. Understanding my goal, I set out and quickly encountered my first fight. The tutorial battles, of course, weren’t challenging, but gave me a good feel for the mechanics. I also can greatly see the influence Chrono Trigger had on the game as characters move about the battlefield to attack much as they did in that game. Finally, after a few fights I reached the first boss who was holding the girl hostage.

I Am Setsuna | X-Strike

Yep, there’s a very distinct Chrono Trigger influence in this game.

The boss itself wasn’t challenging, as it was still a tutorial boss. This was where I was introduced to the mechanic of that second meter I mentioned. After waiting to get all three of my orbs (and taking a few hits) I proceeded to toy around with the effects to find it did seem to be worth the wait. I quickly made short work of the boss once I went on the attack and completed my mission. With that done I concluded my playthrough. As you can see, there’s a lot for old school Square Enix fans to like.

I Am Setsuna | Space

JRPGs, the only genre where causing explosions in space will only damage the enemies around you.

The battle system is very reminiscent of Square Enix’s SNES era RPGs. In addition, the current day graphics do look very nice and I would love to see Chrono Trigger get remade in this style. I do wonder if maybe the reliance on this nostalgia could hurt the game in the long run. However, from what I played, I think fans who wanted a return to form are going to get it with I Am Setsuna.

About Benny Carrillo

A gamer since the days of the NES, this professional otaku adores Mega Man, Super Robot Wars, Yuri, Visual Novels, the Slice of Life anime genre, and of course Hyperdimension Neptunia. His mission on oprainfall is to help deliver the news straight to you.