I have not completed I Am Setsuna. This might invalidate a review to some people but god booting up this game immediately sucks all the energy from me like a dementor.
Which is a real shame, because I wanted to like I Am Setsuna. I really did. The art is pretty, the aesthetic is nice, the music is lovely and the characters are colorful-ish. It was also my first delve into an Active Time battle system. I hated it, it was an absolute pain. I’ll be a self admitted skimmer of tutorials but after I struggled a bit I tried going online, and searching through the game logs to see if I missed anything and found myself amongst a mass of barely organized text. While it was my first bout into active time, it was not my first strategy JRPG and so I’d like to believe that the game and I can split some blame there.
Similarly the choice not to contain a map could have been an intentional one, for “realism” or to force players to memorize the landscape, but the landscape is snow, mountains, and snowy mountains. Sometimes there’s a Forrest. There’s a story section of the menu but no quest markers or even definitive “quests” so good luck remembering where to go if you put it down. And a complaint I know I can pin directly on Setsuna is the just plain incorrect move descriptions that appear.
The art and cities are gorgeous, but the lack of diversity in the world as a whole was lackluster and repetitive after about 20 minutes, let alone the full runtime. The plot could be amazing for all I know, I loved the concept of character development all centered around bringing Setsuna (a charming girl) to her death in order to save the world, and the “Cold Equation” style plot is always interesting to watch (for me) but the slog of gameplay just couldn’t be worked past.
Overall Setsuna has an aesthetic and some gameplay I could appreciate, but the refinement that went into it was that of a hour long flash game, and trying to stretch it into a $40 game is honestly a little insulting. Go play ChronoTrigger instead.