I Am Setsuna Hands-On Preview – Heartbreak Incoming

i am setsuna 06-28-16-(1)

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.

i am setsuna 07-14-16-(1)

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.

i am setsuna 07-14-16-(11)

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.

, ,


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.

  1. deadeye
    July 14, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    Holy shit, that headline had me fearing the worst, like the game was really bad.

    But it seems pretty decent.

  2. Brandon Orselli
    Brandon Orselli
    July 14, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    In hindsight I should have chosen a better one …. I was trying to play off its emotional themes ><

  3. Ben Ruiz
    Ben Ruiz
    July 14, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    What version did you play?

  4. GameZard
    July 14, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    I can’t wait! I hope this game sells well

  5. Tubsiwub
    July 14, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    Nah, it’s fine. Bad games don’t give anyone “Heartbreak” so it’s easily assumed to have to do with the game’s story or theme in general.

  6. MegaRay
    July 14, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    Is the game fully voiced, just a few scenes, or no voice acting at all?

  7. Mid 90's Shinigami
    Mid 90's Shinigami
    July 14, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    This game better not be as depressing as i’m expecting it be, not a big fan of “This character is gonna die but the game wants you to bond anyway to break your heart into 100 tiny fucking pieces when they do.”…ya know?

  8. InfectedAI
    July 14, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    I second in Ben in asking you should post what platform you played it on. Also how’d you get your hands on the demo?

  9. dsadsada
    July 14, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    Not necessarily in this context. Ore Wa Gundamu has been marketed as a return to classic JRPG if I recall which is exactly what has people excited about it. If it turns out to do it but is still bad, that’s heartbreaking in a way.

    Also just to rant a bit of exasperation, I spent the last few days unable to find this site since my bookmarks still had it listed as .net and it’s been changed to .com.

  10. BaronKrause
    July 14, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    Yeah, though I wouldn’t mind a sad first playthrough ending that unlocks the potential for a better “real ending” in NG+.

  11. Uncle Slick
    Uncle Slick
    July 14, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    Can’t wait to play this one.

  12. No_Good_Names_Ever
    July 14, 2016 at 11:06 pm

    Don’t worry fam, Square got your back whether it be mediocre at best gameplay or ran through the 8-4 scrubber.

    July 15, 2016 at 12:34 am

    To be fair, anyone who at least watched the trailer should know what it means. It is supposed to be emotional.

  14. Sevuz
    July 15, 2016 at 2:20 am

    Man I hope this is one is gonna be good

  15. machariel00
    July 15, 2016 at 2:41 am

    Minimal to no voice acting. I’m almost certain it’s at least not fully voiced.

  16. Meinos Kaen
    Meinos Kaen
    July 15, 2016 at 3:45 am

    What this guy said. Fuck I hate these kind of emotional manipulations. T.T

  17. MegaRay
    July 15, 2016 at 5:30 am

    I see. That unfortunate :/

    Thanks for the info

  18. Etherblaze
    July 15, 2016 at 6:45 am

    I’m disgusted with myself because the first thing I think about a game I’m looking forward to is “how much did they change/censor during the localization that they didn’t need to?”

  19. Shiroken
    July 15, 2016 at 6:55 am

    That X-Strike made me remember the joint attack of Chrono and Frog. That gave me the shivers.

  20. R.Hoffmann
    July 15, 2016 at 7:28 am

    How great is the music?
    What do you think, how long is the game?

  21. R.Hoffmann
    July 15, 2016 at 7:29 am

    How dissapointing Street Fighter V was, was kinda heartbreaking for me =/

  22. Elkhazel
    July 15, 2016 at 8:43 am

    where did you try the demo? E3?

  23. machariel00
    July 15, 2016 at 9:29 am

    Not necessarily unfortunate if they take advantage of it to write more indepth dialogue.

  24. Montrillian
    July 15, 2016 at 10:18 am

    It’s the exact same joint attack.

  25. MegaRay
    July 15, 2016 at 10:24 am

    Still, I cant justify $40 for a game as small as this tbh. I think ill watch few more videos before making a decision.

  26. Montrillian
    July 15, 2016 at 10:24 am

    I don’t remember hearing any real voice acting. If memory serves me correctly it was the jumbled text that they always do for RPGs.

  27. Montrillian
    July 15, 2016 at 10:25 am

    I demo’d this on the PS4

  28. Montrillian
    July 15, 2016 at 10:26 am

    Oh it will be, and you’ll cry so hard. You will love this game.

  29. machariel00
    July 15, 2016 at 11:49 am

    I agree, the price is very much questionable without voice acting.

  30. Derp Minos
    Derp Minos
    July 15, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    It’s not Nintendo. Nothing is going to be censored. It would be even more so difficult to do that since Square is lazy and it would mean they’d have to have 2 different build for the JP and EN version of the game on Steam.

  31. Derp Minos
    Derp Minos
    July 15, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Battle cries, from what I remember they are, THANKS GOD, in Japanese.

  32. MegaRay
    July 15, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    I see. Still no voices in cut-scenes is lame. Specially for an $40 game :/

  33. Montrillian
    July 15, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    I wouldn’t be so certain. Just because the company is different doesn’t change the general feel of the industry. You never know how different things are between the regions until you’ve actually got the game in your hands. While I don’t appreciate censorship when it’s blatant it’s better to hope for the best and expect the worst. ,

  34. Montrillian
    July 15, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    When I was playing the demo I didn’t get a chance to really talk to anyone about the game, sorry about that!

  35. Montrillian
    July 15, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    It was on the PS4.

  36. Derp Minos
    Derp Minos
    July 15, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Well the thing is they haven’t censored anything recently iirc so it should be fine imo. Also please keep in mind as always that Setsuna is available both in Japan and the west on Steam. It’s very unlikely they’d change anything, at least graphic-wise, it would be too much of a hassle for them. This is the biggest reason why I’m staying optimistic on this.

  37. H.S
    July 15, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    I’m pretty excited about this game. It’s also nice that they’re doing a simultaneous PC release as well.

  38. Mid 90's Shinigami
    Mid 90's Shinigami
    July 15, 2016 at 6:46 pm


  39. SiliconNooB
    July 16, 2016 at 10:07 am

    I suppose you want to bring back Aeris too?

  40. BaronKrause
    July 16, 2016 at 10:18 am

    Bet you thought that was a cute response.

  41. Montrillian
    July 16, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    Always and forever yes.

  42. InzMovi
    July 16, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    So I’m guessing you haven’t been following Bravely Second then?

  43. Derp Minos
    Derp Minos
    July 17, 2016 at 6:45 am

    Nintendo again.

  44. Asuka
    July 17, 2016 at 10:21 am

    This is the first JRPG I’ve been excited about in ages. I’m still pretty salty that it isn’t getting a physical OR any Vita release though.

    I did get a PS4 the other day for really cheap (thanks to a friend who works for Playstation), and I did pre-order this game off the PSN yesterday. $40 for a digital pre-order felt liked I was getting cucked, b-b-but at least I got 2 PS4 themes for doing so :

    I guess this is just the state of gaming today, and I feel should lucky to have gotten to experience the heyday of JRPGS, physical media, and cool pre-order bonuses.

    Let’s just hope this game is fun and well made.