There’s something about the experience of sitting down to play an epic and expansive game. Settling in for hours, watching everything unfold on a big screen, and enjoying the overall experience in a satisfying way that lets you encounter every possible thing on the grandest scale. Yet, there’s something to be said about the handheld opportunities, since it allows us to take these moments everywhere with us. The Nintendo Switch version of I am Setsuna showcases how well the system works with RPGs, as well as allows us to better savor the adventure in the way it was meant to be played.
First, a word about I am Setsuna. As anyone who has been following the game knows, it’s only available in home experiences outside of Japan. The PlayStation Vita version was never localized, meaning we can only experience Endir and Setsuna’s excursion in a single manner. It’s limiting and, to be honest, I do feel like this had an effect on my enjoyment of the game the first time around. Each time I wanted to play before, I had to make time, get in front of the PlayStation 4, and really settle in for a session. I’d become so accustomed to character grinding being a thing I do on the go, perhaps on the Nintendo 3DS or PlayStation Vita. Or maybe spoiled is a better word?
Having a game where I would really need to spend some time working for the best Spritnite Stones or grinding characters on a console seemed less comfortable somehow. I really wished I could have played the PlayStation Vita version back when I am Setsuna first made its worldwide debut, because while it is a pretty game on the PlayStation 4 and PC, it does seem like it’d be best enjoyed on a smaller screen. The Nintendo Switch iteration allows that. The game looks good and maintains the same visual fidelity, the frame rate is good, and it feels like it just fits here. I even found myself feeling fonder of the game this time around, more forgiving of some of its more generic elements and ham-fisted elements to make me feel sad about the entire situation, because there was this luxury of playing in smaller doses.
In fact, it truly seems like even Tokyo RPG Factory understands the boon portability brings to I am Setsuna. Next month, we’ll be getting the Temporal Battle Arena free DLC for the Nintendo Switch version of the game. This is an additional affair that will rely upon the best character builds and equipment for success. These are things that will only come if you make a commitment to I am Setsuna, something that’s much easier to do when you could pick it up and play it on the go, then drop it into a dock and resume your progress in your home. I can’t help but feel like Tokyo RPG Factory got it with this version of the game.
More importantly, it is the first turn-based RPG on the Nintendo Switch. We have The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but that’s a very different sort of RPG. I am Setsuna shows how well this platform could adapt to the JRPG experience. As I went through the game again, it made me remember how much more I enjoyed playing Persona 4 Golden on the PlayStation Vita than I did on the PlayStation 2, even though it was a great game either way. There’s something about being able to take this substantial sort of experience with you and play it everywhere. Knowing you don’t have to pause, could accomplish busywork at any moment, and just generally have more freedom to enjoy the ride is an important thing.
I am Setsuna feels quite at home on the Nintendo Switch, and that’s an encouraging thing. Not only does it make this RPG feel a bit better and more manageable, now that we can enjoy it both at home and on the go, but it offers a promising perspective for Nintendo’s new system. Seeing how well this game handles not only gives people a possible opportunity to experience it, either for the first time or again, but offers a glimpse at a possible area in which the Nintendo Switch can shine.
I am Setsuna is available for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC.