I am Set­suna

Not to be con­fused with the citrus John Robert­son

Hyper - - EDITORIAL -

In this era of 4K vi­su­als and elite pro­cess­ing power, many older game ideas are be­ing lim­ited to the re­gur­gi­ta­tion of con­veyor belt that are re­mas­ters and re-re­leases. Why make a new RPG in the clas­si­cal form when you can sim­ply up­grade an ex­ist­ing clas­sic and sell it to an audience ei­ther drunk on nos­tal­gia or ea­ger to play a game that was be­fore their time now that it comes with all the mod­ern con­ve­niences?

The cre­atively named Tokyo RPG Fac­tory's re­sponse is to show just why some ideas have be­come clas­sic in the first place. I Am Set­suna, the stu­dio's first game, ad­heres to many of the sta­ples that Ja­panese-made RPGs of the likes of Chrono Trig­ger, Dragon Quest and Fi­nal Fan­tasy were built upon. It's per­spec­tive is iso­met­ric, di­a­logue is read and not heard, com­bat is turn-based, a world map must be tra­versed, and its nar­ra­tive is one of tragic grav­i­tas. And yet, beau­ti­fully, it's an out­ing that – af­ter three hours of play, at least – feels nei­ther de­riv­a­tive nor clichéd.

Pro­tag­o­nist Endir plays the re­pen­tant hero, an in­di­vid­ual strug­gling to un­der­stand his place in the world af­ter his un­der­stand­ing of his po­si­tion within it is sud­denly top­pled. Set­suna, the tit­u­lar char­ac­ter, at first seems ev­ery bit the weak, help­less fe­male that shame­lessly typ­i­fies many RPGs, un­til she re­veals a per­son­al­ity of stern de­ter­mi­na­tion tem­pered by em­pa­thy even for those seek­ing to kill her. These en­ti­ties are framed within a world of re­lent­less snow and ice, forc­ing a sensation of melan­choly and hope­less­ness that is skil­fully cou­pled with hope through the qual­ity of the nar­ra­tive de­sign.

It's this fine bal­ance that makes I Am Set­suna such an in­trigu­ing propo­si­tion, not least be­cause the com­bat forces a sim­i­lar col­lu­sion of read­ings. The usual turn-based sys­tem of wait­ing for a me­ter to build up be­fore you can act is di­ver­si­fied by a 'Mo­men­tum Sys­tem'.

In­stead of act­ing on their turn a char­ac­ter can wait and do noth­ing, al­low­ing points to build up that can be later un­leashed in one go. Use those points dur­ing a heal­ing spell and more char­ac­ters can be patched up at one time. Use them dur­ing an at­tack and you might do more dam­age, or you might in­flict a neg­a­tive sta­tus ef­fect on your foe. There are a mul­ti­tude of out­comes that can oc­cur, with char­ac­ters also able to team up to spend their Mo­men­tum Points in uni­son by un­leash­ing 'com­bos' in which ev­ery­one acts at once. The risk, of course, is that you wait so long for that per­fect at­tack that the en­emy has dam­aged you beyond re­pair. Tempt­ing in­tel­li­gent use of this risk/re­ward sys­tem is go­ing to be key in mak­ing sure that the go­ing re­mains stim­u­lat­ing through­out what is likely to be an ex­pe­ri­ence that strad­dles the longer side of nor­mal. From what we've seen and played, how­ever, the po­ten­tial is here for I Am Set­suna to be­come one of the sleeper hits of 2016.

SET­SUNA RE­VEALS A PER­SON­AL­ITY OF STERN DE­TER­MI­NA­TION TEM­PERED BY EM­PA­THY EVEN FOR THOSE SEEK­ING TO KILL HER

Developer pub­lisher plat­form re­lease Date Tokyo RPG Fac­tory Square Enix PS4, Vita, PC 20 July, 2016

It may look like they're just stand­ing around, but re­ally... no, they are

Brings a whole new mean­ing to the con­cept of 'turtling'...

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