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Lost Sphear

Posted by GG Goblin On February - 19 - 2018

Classic JRPG goodness from Tokyo RPG Factory.

 
Back in the day, when the JRPG genre was at its height, great JRPGs seemed to be everywhere, providing players with one classic after another. Many of these games created moments that have since become legend, and anyone who was playing games back then would have their favorite JRPG that they would have proudly sunk hours upon hours into. But then, the genre seemed to be disappearing as the JRPG genre fell out of favour with both the developers and the players.

 
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However, recent years have seen the JRPG making a comeback, as developers try to tap into what made the classic games of the genre a success. Not all of these modern classics have been a success, but 2016’s I Am Setsuna from Tokyo RPG Factory proved that following a classic formula could result in a brilliant game that felt both nostalgic and new. Now, Square Enix’s Tokyo RPG Factory have released their next game, Lost Sphear, once again trying to tap into what made the classic JRPGs great.

 
As with their previous title, Tokyo RPG Factory have taken influence from many of the great games of the genre, dropping in mechanics and the like that players of the classics will recognise. Lost Sphear also carries over a lot of same gameplay as I Am Setsuna, with little additions presumably there to mix things up.

 
However, one place where Lost Sphear falters and doesn’t manage to match up to the highly enjoyable I Am Setsuna, is in the story and characters. The premise is that the world is disappearing, being swallowed by nothingness,  and only Kanata, the games’ hero, is able to restore these missing parts of the world by using the memories of others that will have to be gathered along the way. It’s a nice idea, if not the most original, but the problem is that the story never really takes any interesting turns, instead staying with the most obvious, predictable direction. This lack of interest is compounded by the group of characters that make themselves known in the game. None of them are particularly memorable, thanks largely to a lack of backstory and depth. They don’t endear themselves to the player, making it quite difficult to actually care what happens to them.

 
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The game world also suffers somewhat from a lack of interesting features or set pieces. There are some nice places to visit, and some of the dungeons through which the player will explore are quite good. But in general, again, locations are forgettable. They look nice, for the most part, in keeping with the overall visual theme, but nothing really stands out.

 
The combat system is much more successful, building upon what the developers did in I Am Setsuna. Once again, it is an active-time battle system, but mixing things up and adding a little touch of strategy, members of the party can be moved around the battlefield. This gives the player a chance to make use of various area of effect attacks, and the chance to minimise those of the opponent. The combat system is a little more complex than that which came before, with a whole collection of different mechanics that could be seen as overkill, if they didn’t all work quite well. It is not too difficult to come to grips with the combat, and it is enjoyable once the player has picked up everything they need to know.

 
Mechanised suits known as “Vulcosuits” are available to further mix things up. These suits give the character using them stat increases and unique abilities, and they are pretty cool to boot. However, the problem comes from the fact that using a suit requires spending a resource that just takes ages to replenish, making the Vulcosuits a luxury that can never really be used as much as the player would like. It is a shame, as the suits add something memorable that is sorely needed to the game and would have made the already great combat system really stand out if the developers had made them more of a feature.

 
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Lost Sphear is a perfectly good JRPG, but it really does nothing to stand out from the crowd. The game still manages to tick those nostalgia boxes, feeling like one of the JRPGs from before their decline, and the mechanics all work as they should. However, when I think of classic JRPGs, I think about memorable stories and characters that I really cared about. Lost Sphear misses a beat in this respect and while the game can still provide a healthy dose of JRPG fun for fans of the genre, it is no classic.

 

 ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ 



 

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