Is I Am Setsuna The Ultimate JRPG Love Note?
So here I was, thinking I had 2016 pretty well mapped out in my mind. From a gaming perspective, I mean.
I'll probably be done with the unbelievably excellent Ratchet & Clank next week and then I'll be lying in wait for Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (May 10), Doom (May 13), and Mirror's Edge Catalyst (now June 7).
I figured if the second expansion for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Blood and Wine, really does come out on June 7 (as previously rumored), I could spend a nice leisurely summer playing that. It's supposed to be 20 hours long, ya know. But then I saw that the Chrono Trigger-inspired RPG, I Am Setsuna, had landed a western launch date of July 19. Well now, that throws a monkey wrench into the works, because I seriously doubt I'll finish all those May games and Blood and Wine by the end of June. In fact, I know I won't.
And yet, I think I might have to play I Am Setsuna. I have heard claims from developers and publishers about how so-called retro/traditional RPGs will remind us of days long gone. Except most of the time, these games are only "retro" in terms of visual display; yeah, they've got a spruced-up old-school look. But the gameplay is very often just more action, as even indie developers seem loath to go anywhere near a true turn-based mechanic, as if it's some sort of disease. One of the few examples of a game that sort of transported me back in time was the great Child of Light but for the most part, "retro" doesn't always pertain to the gameplay. In fact, from what I've seen, it rarely does.
And yet, I Am Setsuna really is turn-based. Toss in the traditional structure, right down to the party that runs around with one member following the other, the towns and forests and dungeons, the inventory and menu screens, etc, and yeah, this actually looks like a slightly modified yet certainly prettier version of those classic SNES and PS1 RPGs many of us knew and loved. Perhaps this really is the ultimate JRPG love note and I wouldn't be surprised if I played it for a long time. We'll see...
4/22/2016 Ben Dutka