What I’m about to say is obvious, but could still potentially qualify as a spoiler for those hyper-sensitive to having even the most painfully obvious of things explicitly stated: it turns out that “the empire” whose soldiers dress like a cross between the soldiers of the evil empire in Final Fantasy 6 and those of Nazi Germany weren’t totally on the up-and-up in this game. Shocking, I know. The reason I bring this up is that we suddenly have to commit treason, and that requires an awkward stealth section! That’s bad enough, but here’s where things become truly stupid: there’s initially no nighttime in Lost Sphear’s world, so a long conversation plays out where everyone tries to wrap their heads around what night is so that they can use it to sneak into a prison. Naturally, this creates yet more questions, as it turns out that a magical column responsible for the passage of time was “lost” and needs to be restored with memories. When did this happen? How did no one notice? Wouldn’t everyone realize that they don’t age anymore? I don’t feel that these are unreasonable questions, nor do I find it particularly necessary to include a long conversation where characters slowly grasp the concept of nighttime. It just drags the pacing down and makes everyone come across as mentally challenged.
Oh, and no one apparently notices afterward
I tried going back to the researcher who was looking into nighttime after having successfully “plunged the world into darkness” (great phrasing, by the way), but he had nothing to say on the matter. In fact, I’ve yet to see a single person comment on the newfound passage of time despite it supposedly being a phenomenon lost long ago, way before anyone alive was born. Between the poor writing, giant plot holes, and lack of consequences for things like this, Lost Sphear is weirdly unsatisfying.
Stealth isn’t the answer
Here’s a general rule for game developers: if your game isn’t built around stealth and doesn’t provide a viable alternative to it, don’t include a stealth section. Period. Otherwise you’re bound to create something that’s either trivial to the point of meaninglessness, endlessly awkward, or both (which is the case here).
Pausing to lock in a position
In the last progress log, I mentioned that it was a problem that you can’t launch an attack while holding the right stick down to aim, and that returning the stick to its neutral position inevitably ruined your precise positioning. Thankfully, I found a workaround for this: pausing. If you hit start to pause the game, you can return the stick to its neutral position without the game registering anything until you unpause. It’s still not reasonable to require something like this when it’d make more sense to simply allow attacks while aiming, but this definitely makes things slightly less awful.
As a bit of a side note, this boss fight kind of sucks. It has a laser that instantly kills a party member (which is incredibly cheap; you’re not likely to have many revival items this early on), and you have to fight it three times in a row. Of course, you have no way of knowing that you have to fight it three times in a row, either, which is precisely why I’ve largely avoided using the vulcosuits; it’s difficult to justify using up your most powerful form when you might end up in another boss fight right around the corner.
Lost Sphear is held together with scotch tape
Fairly early on, someone gave my party a ship. Sadly, a giant whirlpool ensured that it couldn’t actually be used for anything. Once the story progressed and the whirlpool randomly disappeared, however, I decided to explore all of the islands and look for extra areas that could be accessed with the ship. In the process, I found a bunch of towers like the time tower, and these unlocked new vulcosuit attacks for different characters (the explanations are needlessly complicated, but I’m starting to get the feeling that combo attacks are only going to be possible in vulcosuit form).
The point I’m making here is that I was allowed to reach these islands at this point in the game. Then I came to the area in the video above, and suddenly a party member chimed in to say that it’s not the time for exploration. Despite there being a pier identical to the others that have allowed me to disembark and explore the area, this pier didn’t work. Normally, a game would block this area off with, say, a giant whirlpool to signify that it can’t be accessed until later. Randomly making this a non-functional pier and having a party member pester me with lies isn’t a great way of handling this, and not using the perfectly good whirlpool from earlier just speaks to the fact that no one working on this game appears to know what they’re doing.
I don’t hate the combat, but…
The best way of describing my opinion of the combat at the moment is “not mad, just disappointed.” Characters have unlocked some more special attacks to use, some of which are surprisingly powerful, but the spitnite bonuses provided by momentum mode don’t look like they’re going to ever focus on restoring HP/MP/VP, and that makes this much more of a vanilla experience. And that’s fine—my first experiences with jRPGs were on the Super Nintendo, and the mechanics of those games were largely copy/pasted from one game to another. I can deal with vanilla. It’s just disappointing that I Am Setsuna finally started to push the formula into uncharted waters that proved even more enjoyable than the stock jRPG experience, only for Lost Sphear to rush back into bland, mechanical conformity. Lost Spotential.