Lost Sphear - Fighting in the Moonlight
When loading Lost Sphear it is immediately evident that Tokyo RPG factory has iterated on the foundation they built with I am Setsuna. Chief amongst them increasing player quality of life. There is a difficulty setting, you can turn voices on or off, and even rewind text in event scenes. Those voices are only battle voices the characters yell with in combat. They can get irritating after hearing them for the hundredth time so it’s nice to shut them down once in a while.
They’ve also added feet to your characters. If you ever paid close attention to I am Setsuna you’ll have noticed the characters walked around with little peg legs, but not in Lost Sphear. The game is also difficult. During the second boss I was starting to question my choices in game. I turned around and attempted to farm monsters to gain a few levels before taking him on again. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any. Finally after my third time throwing myself at the big pig I managed to take him down. This was on normal.
Another weak spot from I am Setsuna that has been improved upon for Lost Sphear is the lack of environmental diversity. There was a lot of white in I am Setsuna, which fit the tone of the game but became almost too bleak after 40 hours wandering the world. While there is white environments in Lost Sphear the goal is to recover those lost areas and restore them with whatever was there originally, people, buildings, mountains, and even monsters. The environments still share the same artistic style as I am Setsuna but be prepared to see more greens and browns than the first game.
The battle system has evolved too. You’ll now be able to manually move your characters across the battlefield and select areas to attack. Based upon your characters attacks you can hit more than one enemy at a time. Knowing how to line your attacks up most effectively can be the key to victory. Also note that just because your character attacks in small circle doesn’t mean you can’t position it to catch two enemies standing side by side. Additionally you still have a momentum gauge that fills as the battle goes on and lets you trigger extra attacks and special abilities for skills when you time your buttons presses correctly.
Spritnite makes its return in Lost Sphear also although it has been simplified. No longer do you have to worry about weird flux effects. Now you’ll just equip your spritnite and support spritnite and you’ll earn abilities based upon their configuration You’ll also find colored spritnite that you can use to enhance your weapon which provides moderate upgrades until you can find a new tier of weapons to equip.
Vulcosuits are Lost Sphear’s equivalent to Final Fantasy’s Magitech armor. You’ll earn these suits early in the game but I was underwhelmed by their use. I did enjoy traveling the world in them and interacting with the environmental puzzles that required their use but they felt lunky in combat and I didn’t find the switching between the suit and my character in the middle of battle and back again fun. It felt more like a chose.
The most disappointing part of the entire game was the writing. The general premise for the story was intriguing and the mechanic of collecting memories and combining these to return what was “lost” was promising. However the chatter between characters, the monologues, and the scenes felt lacking. None of the characters were overly compelling and some like Locke were completely off putting. And while he was designed to seem bratty it’s not a good thing when you actively dislike one of the early game protagonists. The UI is also a step back from I am Setsuna. Where I am Setsuna’s UI incorporated themes from the game, including snowflakes for the characters powering up their momentum gauge, Lost Sphear’s UI is plain and uninspired. The font for the text strikes me as a placeholder that they just couldn’t find something better to replace with.
Lost Sphear is a good JRPG from Tokyo RPG Factory that falls short of being great. The refinements made to the combat system from I am Setsuna are a welcome addition. The additional colors in the environment also spruce the game up a bit. However, no matter how strong the overall story arch is there are some deep lulls in the early game that are hard to push past.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch with a code provided by Square Enix’s PR team.
SCORE (1-10): 7/10
- Strategic Combat
- More diverse environments
- Simplified Spritnite system
- Early story is not very compelling
- Vulcosuits are anticlimactic
- The UI text doesn’t look right