You know, I Am Setsuna wasn’t a terrible game. It just had the misfortune of being focused on all the wrong characters, and the writing was an incoherent mess of everyone repeating basic plot information to the point of exhaustion in case the player took a sudden bathroom break (and had a mischievous cat who clicked through several cutscenes in the meantime). It was incredibly patronizing, and this obviously didn’t suit the complex mechanics. That brings us to Lost Sphear, the unrelated followup game that can nonetheless best be thought of as “I Am Actually Not Setsuna This Time.” I haven’t played far into it yet, but the developers appear to be operating on the assumption that everyone’s problem with I Am Setsuna was that it wasn’t patronizing enough. I mean, there are constant button prompts on the bottom of the screen in case you forget how to open up a menu. I also already want to strangle one of the characters, which is almost impressively bad. For a studio that so desperately wants to emulate Chrono Trigger, no one appears to have put any emphasis on learning how its writing and character development actually hooked players, and this has already left Lost Sphear feeling like a soulless clone.
Way to blow that first impression
The town the playable characters start the game in has audio that doesn’t loop properly, leading to an audible *click* at 1:00. This isn’t rocket science. Setting aside how awkward it is for the song to loop from its loudest point to its quietest, all it takes to avoid this is to create imperceptibly short fades at the beginning and end of the track. Boom, no clicks. And ideally, you would compose a track that naturally winds down before the loop occurs to avoid this being necessary in the first place. Even if this track had to be included, though, why would you possibly use it so early?
Nothing about this makes sense. Audio looping isn’t as hard as some developers make it look (I’ve successfully pulled it off before), especially when you have a straightforward loop that doesn’t include a non-repeated intro section.
The audio in general is kind of bad. When I started Lost Sphear, it asked me if I wanted voices. I said yes because how bad could they be, really? That was a mistake. On the bright side, turning them off was a fun experience because the repeating voice clip sounds like a malfunctioning robot that’s bungee jumping.
I’m just kind of uninterested right now
The combat hasn’t hooked me thus far. This is maybe the third boss fight, and there’s still nothing interesting you can do yet. Lost Sphear’s claim to fame is that you can now move characters around on their turn after selecting an attack, which is definitely a welcome change after I Am Setsuna’s confusing approach to positioning, but the fights are just kind of tedious without all of the fun combo techs and area healing moves that game had. I’m hoping this changes eventually (I got past this fight on my second try), but things really are a bit of a boring slog early on.
So much so that I forgot to make sure that my mouse pointer didn’t show up in the video. That was admittedly unintentional, but in hindsight, I don’t see how I can reasonably be expected to put in more effort than the game is willing to.
Anyway, there are a bunch of mechanics here that are vaguely familiar. For one, spritnite can be added to special attacks to give them a secondary effect, and sometimes a lesser version of the effect sticks. I only have one self-healing spritnite that doesn’t do much and isn’t worth using up someone’s MP for, but it’s possible that this eventually makes the combat as enjoyable as that in I Am Setsuna.