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I Am Setsuna
Game Reviews

I Am Setsuna

A slower (but still stable) framerate doesn’t hurt this newly portable, and still depressing, JRPG.

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If you’re an early adopter of Nintendo’s Switch you’ve probably reconciled yourself with the idea of not having much to play once you’ve gotten through the massive world of Breath of the Wild. It’s not all sadness; there’s a few other solid games on the platform, of course; Blaster Master Zero is a favorite, for instance, and if you want to have a good time hating your friends you can’t go wrong with Snipperclips.

Speaking of sadness, for you RPG fans out there, the Switch launched with a port of Square Enix’s I Am Setsuna, an almost comically depressing traditional JRPG that met with some acclaim last year. It’s certainly not the kind of game you’d expect to see on a Nintendo console, but here it is!

If you’re unfamiliar, I Am Setsuna follows Endir, a mercenary tasked with hunting down and killing a girl named Setsuna from a remote village. Endir stays his hand when it’s revealed that Setsuna, who is intended to be a sacrifice for the good of the world, will soon die anyway. Instead, Endir and a cast of others join Setsuna on her journey to give her life. It’s not really a spoiler to say that the plot in this one is a giant bummer, so be ready for that.

I Am Setsuna was intended to be a sort of spiritual sequel to Chrono Trigger, a contrast with that game’s divisive actual sequel Chrono Cross. Setsuna’s combat system is very similar, for instance, featuring a take on the classic Square Enix Active Time Battle setup with combination attacks. Battles reward proper positioning of area-effect attacks, encouraging you to plan out when and where you strike. Gathering materials is central to Setsuna as well, and you’ll have to defeat enemies in a variety of ways (ranging from killing them with drastically greater damage than required to killing them with nearly the exact amount required) to get the goods you need. There’s not a lot of side content available here, but you can expect around 20 hours of total gameplay.

Aside from the new platform, I Am Setsuna is largely unchanged in its journey to the Switch. The game still runs nicely, looks great and sounds fantastic, though the Switch version runs at 30FPS as opposed to the other versions’ smoother 60. That might sound bad, but in my mind it’s less of a crime in this style of game than in something more action-focused. The relatively simple combat system and clear graphics mean that it’s a solid choice for portable gameplay as well, though TV mode helps the game’s visuals really pop. Otherwise, you’re getting the same game here that you’d get on PS4, Vita or PC; the diminished framerate is balanced out with the ability to take the game on the go.

There’s no need to pick up I Am Setsuna again if you already played it last year. If you haven’t had the chance to do that and you’re looking to give your Switch a little more love, though, it’s a great example of how this style of RPG can work on the hybrid console. Cutting the framerate is sure to upset people who are invested in that sort of thing, but being able to take a full-featured RPG of this sort with you whenever you’d like is more than worth the trade.