Lost sp­hear

I Am Not Set­suna

Games Master - - Contents -

The I Am Set­suna devs re­turn to grace us with an­other beau­ti­ful yet bru­tal JRPG.

Lost Sp­hear (no, that’s not a typo) is the lat­est project from Tokyo RPG Fac­tory – de­vel­oper of the equally oddly named I Am Set­suna. A strange ti­tle isn’t the only thing this game has in com­mon with Set­suna, though: it has the same daz­zling art style, top-down per­spec­tive, and ‘ac­tive time bat­tle’ com­bat sys­tem as its spir­i­tual pre­de­ces­sor.

This sec­ond of­fer­ing from the stu­dio in­tro­duces a brand-new world, with a more up­beat tone. The bright colours make Lost Sp­hear’s au­tum­nal sur­round­ings feel more spir­ited and invit­ing, and while there is still a som­bre aspect to the nar­ra­tive, it’s off­set with a sense of ad­ven­ture, hero­ism, and mo­ments of hu­mour.

In typ­i­cal JRPG fash­ion, the plot is an epic tale spiced with pe­cu­liar­ity. It opens with the world on the brink of de­struc­tion, sub­ject to an oc­cur­rence known as Lost. Re­al­ity is fash­ioned from mem­o­ries, and when things are for­got­ten, they van­ish. Ob­jects, ar­eas, and peo­ple are all re­placed with an eerie noth­ing­ness.

Loss bat­tle

When pro­tag­o­nist Kanata’s home­town of El­gar­the is on the re­ceiv­ing end of this af­flic­tion, he dis­cov­ers he is able to com­bat the Lost us­ing the power of Mem­ory. This af­fects not only the story, but also what you do; in one in­stance we come to an im­pass­able route, blocked by a rock show­ing the fa­mil­iar pasty hue of the Lost. Only by de­feat­ing the nearby crea­tures and util­is­ing their mem­o­ries of the area are we able to re­store the miss­ing spot, and break the boul­der with our snazzy ar­moured suits (but more on those later).

En­e­mies lurk in dun­geons and, with no ran­dom en­coun­ters, can be eas­ily seen, and po­ten­tially avoided. The turn-based

“a giddy sat­is­fac­tion comes from us­ing pow­er­ful abil­i­ties that hit mul­ti­ple op­po­nents”

com­bat is rooted in tra­di­tional RPGs, but there’s an el­e­ment of in­di­vid­u­al­ity in its ap­proach to the ac­tive time bat­tle sys­tem. Se­lect­ing a char­ac­ter lets you place them wher­ever you please on the bat­tle­field, and plot­ting a char­ac­ter within range of mul­ti­ple tar­gets al­lows you to deal dam­age to nu­mer­ous foes with the one at­tack.

Your party is formed of four mem­bers. Each has a sig­nif­i­cant com­bat style and unique skills that can be used for max­i­mum dev­as­ta­tion, or support, dur­ing bat­tle. For in­stance, Kanata can use his sword skill, Cy­clone, to per­form a dizzy­ing spin at­tack to slice nu­mer­ous en­e­mies, or pro­vide heal­ing us­ing his Aura abil­ity to re­store the HP of all char­ac­ters within the spell’s ra­dius. There’s a cer­tain giddy sat­is­fac­tion that comes from per­fectly lin­ing up your char­ac­ters and us­ing pow­er­ful abil­i­ties that hit mul­ti­ple op­po­nents. It’s not only en­joy­able, but nec­es­sary. Be­neath the painterly vi­su­als lies a de­cep­tively deep bat­tle sys­tem. Fail to plan your at­tack strat­egy prop­erly, or group your own char­ac­ters hap­haz­ardly, and you’ll leave your party ex­posed to multi-hits from the op­po­si­tion.

If you’ve got quick re­flexes, you’ll ben­e­fit from the in­creased dam­age that the Mo­men­tum Sys­tem of­fers. When a char­ac­ter is about to strike, a flash of light ap­pears above their head. Time your but­ton press just right and you in­flict more pain than you can with a nor­mal at­tack. It’s ini­tially hard to get the tim­ing down, but once mas­tered it’s an in­valu­able ace to have tucked up your ar­mour-clad sleeve.

Robot wars

Now, back to those ar­moured mech suits. Known as Vul­co­suits, they grant in­creased strength and de­fence, and al­low for pow­er­ful co-op at­tacks to be per­formed. Each char­ac­ter has their own suit, but they can’t be used in­def­i­nitely. Us­ing their abil­i­ties guz­zles up en­ergy, so it’s prob­a­bly best to save them for the game’s tougher foes – and if the bow-wield­ing hon­cho we en­coun­tered is any­thing to go by, formidable boss bat­tles.

Re­tain­ing the stu­dio’s flair for cre­at­ing emo­tion­ally charged nar­ra­tives en­cased in en­chant­ing vi­su­als, Lost Sp­hear of­fers com­mend­able strate­gic depth and choice in com­bat. If you’ve been lament­ing the cur­rent lack of tra­di­tional JRPGs, this could be just the rem­edy.

Anne-Marie Coyle

For­mat Switch, PS4, PC Pub­lisher Square Enix De­vel­oper Tokyo RPG Fac­tory ETA 23 Jan­uary 2018

Just how the mech suits fit into the story re­mains a mys­tery, but their help­ful­ness in bat­tle is be­yond ques­tion.

Po­si­tion your char­ac­ters well and you can deal dam­age to mul­ti­ple en­e­mies at once. Boost al­lows you to sprint past foes, handy for when you want to avoid over­whelm­ing num­bers of op­po­nents, or reach your des­ti­na­tion faster. You’ll still have to get...

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