I Am Setsuna Hands-On Preview – Heartbreak Incoming

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Recent trends in the Square Enix series Final Fantasy have slowly begun to worry me and plenty of others. Their constant focus on active battle seems to be a major sway against the traditional turn based combat that made me fall in love with the series.

I don’t know if I was just longing for a return to form or if I was falling into a trap filled with nostalgia, but I think I might have found a game that can finally scratch my itch for RPGs in Square Enix’s new game, I am Setsuna.

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The game opens up as the main character Endir, a mercenary, travels through a taiga in search of a young girl who went missing.

As Endir travels the arctic forest, the player is met with several monsters used to teach the general mechanics of combat. I think it was right here that I fell in love with this game.

Combat is an active turn based system and as you’re waiting for your turn to start, enemies will attack. While this isn’t a new approach to RPGs, it’s certainly inspired by wonderful games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy IV.

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In keeping with the inspiration from Chrono Trigger, enemies will move around during battle, and positions will change throughout battle, granting a chance to hit multiple enemies.

One of the more interesting uses of the active combat system is the idea that there are benefits to not taking your turn as soon as you get the opportunity.

The longer you wait to take your turn, the more a gauge next to the character rises. As this gauge fills up, beneficial effects begin to accumulate – these effects can be anything from increase to your defensive stats to an improved chance to hit.

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These stat increases can be traded for a strong attack that can dramatically change the flow of battle. Each time the gauge is filled, a point is gained at the top of the gauge.

Each point adds more stat benefits and even more chances to trade points out for massive attacks, however these points max out at 3 total. Another major point of combat that I couldn’t help but feel giddy for is the use of equipable techniques that reminded me of materia from Final Fantasy 7.

While not much was explained during the demo, it appears that you will be able to buy techniques – and, I assume, magic – through stores as well as find them throughout the environments as you travel.

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Even the art direction is reminiscent of previous games made by Square Enix. The character models seem to be inspired by the Nintendo DS version of Final Fantasy III.

While the characters are chibi-fied, the artwork and the environments during my small encounter with the game were wonderful for such a humble game.

You can see snow fluttering along the wind as you move through the snow. You left visible tracks that stayed along the snowy ground. Even the enemy characters were uniquely interesting and I am anxiously looking forward to seeing more.

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The demo ended with Endir facing off against a massive bear that was trying to kill the girl you were searching for. You needed timing, proper use of the gauge, and a good handle on the techniques that you had gained up until that point in order to best the beast.

After the bear is defeated, your companion takes the girl away to safety and a man walks out of the shadows. He offers Endir a job. A girl is being forced to travel off to a distant land in order to serve as a sacrifice to an evil fiend that has terrorized her village for decades.

Your job is to find her and kill her before she makes it to this fiend. This is I am Setsuna.  Prepare to have your heart broken.

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I am a research student with a history in psychology. I am a fan of tactical rpgs and I love to travel. I hope to one day be a clinical psychologist.

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