“Everyone fell in love with the RPGs of yesteryear. Let’s bring them back.”
Could there be a more noble mission in gaming today than to revive the classic RPG’s of the golden age of video games? Ikenie to Yuki no Setsuna, or I Am Setsuna in in English, aims to do just that. Developed by Tokyo RPG Factory, the game was published in 2016 by Square Enix. Square Enix, formerly SquareSoft, was the incontestable king of the RPG genre during the 90’s and a bit during the decades bracketing. Square was the one who brought us the ubiquitous Final Fantasy franchise, Chrono Trigger and Cross, the SaGa franchise, the Mana franchise, the first Breath of Fire, Secret of Evermore, Super Mario RPG, Xenogears, Brave Fencer Musashi, Vagrant Story, the beloved Kingdom Hearts series and too many more to be named.
Given that Square has a record of releasing RPGs which are still held up as the prime examples of the genre and personal favorites of millions across the globe, this is the best news I’ve heard for months that Square wants to finally get back to the golden age of their best RPGs. Their latest role-playing releases have been… lackluster. Okay, crap. There. I said it. They’re built new games on the backs of pandering, anime-influenced characters whose only redeeming quality is that they’re “cool” and turned the Final Fantasy franchise into a jumbled J-pop track that nobody respects anymore.
I Am Setsuna, on the other hand, looks beautiful, not because it’s attempting the kind of hyper-realism now possible with next-gen systems but because of its charming impression of reality. That’s the sort of aesthetic that defined the RPGs of the 90’s. Even more exciting, Square is finally doing something with the Chrono name. I Am Setsuna has been called a spiritual successor to Chrono Trigger (thanks to Hatm0nster for telling me about this game). It even shares the same Active Time Battle system used in that SNES classic and others. You can even spot Crono and Frog’s X-Strike in some of the screen captures.
The title in Japanese means “Setsuna of Sacrifice and Snow” and a main theme of the game is said to be “sadness”. The game follows the story of Setsuna who has been chosen as a sacrifice to appease demons, who must travel through the snow with her companions toward her fate. Heavy. Will it be something with a somber tone that isn’t over-concerned with trying to sell itself on “coolness-factor” more than simply telling a story? Will it become a modern classic and meet the standard set for it from the golden age? Only time will tell. Unless you read Japanese. In that case, go play it right now.
I Am Setsuna is scheduled for a mid-2016 English release for PS4 and Steam. I could not be more thrilled for this game. The piano track instantly won my heart.
More pandering? Or art?
-The Well-Red Mage