For anyone who is a fan of classic JRPGs, especially Chrono Trigger, I Am Setsuna is a game you should be looking forward to. This game leverages all the technological advances of the last 20 years while also paying homage to the old classics. Although I had previously heard about this game the demo here at PAX East was my first chance to actually play.
The main part of the demo takes place in the Frost Caverns, which seems like it is a mid level area. My first thought upon entering the Caverns was it reminded me a lot of the Fire Caverns in Final Fantasy VIII, in both areas there are restricted paths you can go on and mobs in specific areas. One neat aspect is you can see all the mobs roaming around on the map, and there are often different ways to go on various paths which allows for some of these monsters to be skippable. Of course, as expected for a JRPG, exploring the entire Frost Cavern is a good idea.
Combat is very heavily influenced by Chrono Trigger. As such it is turn based and each character has a power up bar which determines when they get to take their turn. Also if you take too long trying to decide what to do the mobs will still take their turns when their bars fill up. It all felt really familiar and intuitive but also very fluid and fastpaced. The combat in I Am Setsuna feels like how I remember the old games playing through the rose colored glasses of my younger self.
Another real highlight of I Am Setsuna is the art and music, even in the short demo these two aspects really stood out. The animation is very cartoony but it is also very detailed and gorgeous. For example while wandering in the Frost Caverns I could actually see the reflections of the characters in the ice, which is the sort of detail often missing in many games. Also each character, not just the main ones but other NPCs you encounter, have a really impressive level of detail to them.
The music is also comes across as original and different, while also being a great homage to the old JRPGs. For example the music for winning a battle sounds like someone took the victory music from FFVIII and slowed it down, tweaked it slightly, and played it on the piano; all of which is done with such a deft hand it can easily be missed unless you are specifically listening for it. The ambient music when wandering out in the world is equally perfectly fitting and done in such a way it really enhances the experience without distracting.
All in all I Am Setsuna is a really interesting game and is perfect for anyone who has been looking for a new JRPG with the feel of some of the old favorites. Players can get their hands on it July 19th on Steam and PS4 (digital only).