I am Setsuna Draws Inspiration From More Than Chrono Trigger

By Jenni . July 19, 2016 . 1:30pm

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When it comes to I am Setsuna, it seemed like all I was hearing was how much it was like Chrono Trigger. And certainly, there are some similarities. You walk from place to place on the world map, without fear of enemy encounters. Enemies wander around the field, which means running into one automatically triggers a battle against the party of foes. Many of your party members’ attacks have ranges that allow them to hit more than one enemy at a time, if you target the right foe. You eventually even get collaborative attacks where multiple party members will all hit a foe, if everyone’s ATB gauge is filled. But there are so many other games that have influenced I am Setsuna, and it’s easy to see elements plucked from other games.

I am Setsuna is a lot like Tomato Adventure and the Mario & Luigi series, for example. The SP gauge fills as you take damage, deal damage, or wait to attack. You can press the square button when a light appears above the character and the gauge has one of its three points filled will add an additional effect or more damage to the attack. In Tomato Adventure and Mario & Luigi, you deal additional damage when you press the button right as the party member is about to attack. The main difference? I am Setsuna is far more forgiving with its attack, so you’ll probably trigger the additional effect as long as you try.


It calls to mind the Tales and Monster Hunter series too. You can visit restaurants in I am Setsuna to have someone make you a good meal. But, before you can chow down, you have to collect food from the field. These are usually hidden in the snow, so you’ll have to listen for the chime, watch for the sparkle, and feel for the DualShock 4’s vibration. From there, you have to talk to people around town with the ingredients in your inventory and hope someone takes notice. If they do, they’ll make you a meal with those items and give you a recipe you can register at a restaurant.




I am Setsuna is like Monster Hunter in another way. Every monster drops materials. These can be sold to the Magic Consortium, which will turn them into Spritnite stones. A certain number of parts are required for each stone, but you’re free to take whichever ones you’ve earned when you have enough pieces to make them. This means you might need to head back to previous areas in search of specific monsters, in the event you miss certain ingredients for the stones you need. You can also temper weapons with materials to strengthen them, as another similarity.


The idea that I’d have to acquire these specific Spritnite and have accessories with the specific equipment slots for skill spaces reminded me a bit of The Legend of Heroes series. While it isn’t as complicated as the Orbment and Arts system there, you still need to be aware of the accessories’ special features and spaces before equipping them, then make sure someone has the right Spritnite equipped for special attacks. Though, to be fair, The Legend of Heroes and I am Setsuna aren’t the only games that assign abilities in such a way, but it was the one that first came to mind as I played.


The most unexpected comparison, however, was to Hyperdimension Neptunia. Bear with me, because this is more about the spirit of the thing, rather than an actual implementation of a similar feature. In the original Hyperdimension Neptunia, your healing was limited. You could only heal in-battle and had to hope for certain conditions to trigger when you had specific items to restore a percentage of characters’ health. In I am Setsuna you can heal via special abilities, items, and automatically when you level up, but there are no inns. You can’t stop somewhere in a town, pay a fee, and immediately be restored to full health. I absolutely hated this, and the limitation reminded me the one I encountered in Hyperdimension Neptunia.

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In general, I am Setsuna reminds me of one of Kemco’s mobile RPGs. It isn’t terribly long. I was done in between 18 and 19 hours. It isn’t exceptionally detailed. You follow the storyline quests and that’s it. There aren’t really any supplemental activities, though you can go back and get treasure from additional chests. Each dungeon is rather straightforward. You very clearly know where to go and there often isn’t that great of a reward waiting off of the beaten path. It also wasn’t terribly challenging. Some bosses can be difficult, but switching up your Spritnite and party members can alleviate most issues. It feels like it is following a formula, much like Kemco’s can.


It’s easy to bring up I am Setsuna’s similarities to Chrono Trigger. They’re really easy to see. But this is a game that’s taking inspiration from many different sources. It seemed like it was working with many elements that other RPGs had successfully implemented before, used them a bit in their own way, and hoped for the best in the end. At times, I felt a bit underwhelmed, but it feels like it did try to honor classics that had come before.


I am Setsuna is immediately available for the PlayStation 4 and Windows PC.

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