By Steve Baltimore / February 22nd, 2018
|Developer||Tokyo RPG Factory|
|Release Date||January 23rd, 2018|
|Platform||Switch, PS4, Steam|
Square-Enix recently published Tokyo RPG Factory’s follow up to I am Setsuna, Lost Sphear. When I played I am Setsuna I fell in love with it. I thought the atmosphere, music, and story were all simply amazing, so when I decided to pick up Lost Sphear I had some pretty high expectations. Let’s see if this one lived up to the hype I had for it.
The story follows a young man named Kanata and his friends Lumia and Locke as they live a peaceful life in their village. One day the village is attacked by monsters and soon after things begin disappearing. This phenomenon is known as becoming Lost in this world. Once something is Lost it usually cannot be restored, but Kanata possesses a strange ability which allows him to restore The Lost using memories. The trio pair up with a young man named Van who offers to lend Kanata a hand and set out on an adventure to save the very world!
This story is a very slow burn. The first four or five hours seem to drag on without anything really happening. Thankfully the story does pick up and the characters are actually pretty well fleshed out by the end of your journey. There are some crazy late game plot twists that I didn’t really see coming, but for the most part this is a by the numbers JRPG story. Young protag with crew saves the world, bad guy you fight many times, you get jailed etc. I’m really torn on this because on the one hand I did love the characters and the endgame was interesting, but you wade though a lot of bland to get there.
Visually this games looks very similar to I am Setsuna, but this time there is more than snow to look at. The environments actually have quite a bit of variety. These includes forest areas, a ship graveyard, caverns, and one of the most impressive mirror lakes I’ve seen in gaming. The character models are nicely detailed, but I think a few more enemy models would’ve been nice. They use one boss about 3 times, and while that fits the story, I would have liked to have seen a bit more variety.
Tokyo RPG Factory did an amazing job with their music in I am Setsuna. I know some folks didn’t care for the all piano music but I personally thought it was amazing. They didn’t disappoint this time around either. The OST isn’t all piano like it was last time, but it is filled to the brim with emotion. The somber themes really drive home the desperation of the quest, the rocking battle themes get you pumped for combat and there’s even some playful tunes for a few moments of reprise the party sees in this adventure.
As you explore the world you will have to restore places that have been Lost in order to proceed. This is done by using memories. These memories can be obtained by defeating enemies in combat, talking with certain NPCs, and they can be found on the overworld map as Glowing Points. You will use these memories to construct artifacts. Each artifact you construct will not only restore the world, but will have an effect on either the area or entire world. These effects vary greatly from giving you certain perks during battle, improving your movement speed and even having more Glowing Points spawn on the map, allowing you to find more items. Since you will find better artifacts as the game progresses you can swap these out anytime if you want push a different effect on the area or world later on.
Combat here borrows some of Hyperdimension Neptunia’s style of battle system. You move around on the field to line up attacks with your foes. Different skills and weapons will have different ranges and areas of effect, so planning out attacks to cover the most area is always for the best. Skills and abilities do have a cool down time as well, meaning you cannot spam the same special move each round. This means you have to think ahead on which attacks or skill you might want to save in case you get in a pinch. Attacks will also fill your momentum bar. Once this bar is full you will gain one Momentum Charge. You can spend this charge for an extra attack, a counter, and to activate other buffs. All you do to activate this is is press Y when you flash on screen, and your timing doesn’t even have to be that exact to trigger these. You can also swap inactive party members out for ones in combat at any time, but this will take your turn.
Skills and abilities are equipped on each character via Spritnite. Characters will start out with a few slots to equip Spritnite but will gain more as they level up. These come in three different flavors: Skill, Counter, and Momentum Spritnite. Skill of course give you access to basic spells and buffs. Counter will allow you to trigger an effect when a party member takes damage so long as they have at least one Momentum Charge to spend. These usually buff your resistances or give you HP recovery. Momentum Spirtnite will add an extra effect to an attack at the cost of one Momentum Charge. The effect can include elemental attack buffs, debuffs on your foes, instant death and much more. If you trigger an effect on a skill enough times the effect will be added to that skill and it will activate without a Momentum Charge being used. Spiritnite can be obtained at Glowing Points or you can trade memories for them at the shops in town.
The last thing I would like to talk about combat-wise is the Vulcosuits. You will obtain these pretty early on in the story and they can be equipped before or during combat. These robotic suits will give all of your stats a nice boost and also give you access to new moves. Each suit is different. While Kanata’s suit will give him access to Chrono Trigger style team moves, Luna’s will give her special moves an even great boost. These abilities will have to be unlocked on the world map by completing a certain story based action.
This is just the basics of the combat engine found in this game. There is a ton of depth here and lots of awesome effects and skills to play around with. The game has some extra dungeons that unlock near the end game to practice some of the more advanced tactics on, or you can always crank up the difficulty for more of a challenge.
I’m torn on Lost Sphear. On the one hand the story is very basic, but it does get more interesting towards the end after the slow start. The combat is deep and fun. The Soundtrack is top notch and the production values found in the game are good, but I feel like the price tag really holds this back. The game does last around 30 hours and you could get even more time out of it exploring the game’s multiple endings, however I still felt $50 was a pretty steep price for this one at retail. At that price point there are other titles out there with more story depth and better presentation. Nonetheless if you’re a fan of classic JRPGs or you loved I am Setsuna and haven’t jumped on Lost Sphear you should do so. You will find a lot to love here.
Game purchased by the reviewer, but if you would like to snag a physical copy, please use our Play-Asia link below:
classicLost SphearRPGSquare EnixTokyo RPG Factory