Last updated on December 20th, 2017
In keeping the traditional JRPG alive, Square Enix’s newly formed studio, Tokyo RPG Factory was brought together in an effort to uphold that mission. They first started out with the release of I Am Setsuna in 2016, an RPG that paid homage to the days of classic turn-based gameplay, exploration and overworld traversal all set in a winter world. The game was positively received but was not without its flaws.
And now, their latest venture and foray into their duty is Lost Sphear, a game contained in its own universe set apart from I Am Setsuna and is also a second chance to do right on its predecessor’s faults. With the Lost Sphear, not only is Tokyo RPG Factory striving to pay tribute to the old-school style of JRPGs, but at the same time weaving in a thread of modernization into its fiber, creating something both new and old players can delight in.
Lost Sphear was first released for Japan back in October of this year on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. With the Western release coming in early 2018 on the same systems, but with the addition of the PC platform. Let’s take a glimpse at Lost Sphear and get a taste of what we can expect.
Genre: RPG, JRPG, Turn-based
Developed by: Tokyo RPG Factory
Published by: Square Enix
Release date: January 23rd, 2018
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC via Steam
Lost Sphear Features
- Soundtrack – Two music tracks by composer Tomoki Miyoshi ‘Market Town Marpennig’
- Story – Unique and powerfully unforgettable storyline with seamless gameplay
- Mechanics – Enhanced Battle System with new ATB 2.0 offering more freedom in combat
- Machine Equipment – capture Vulcosuit robots in the fields or whilst in battle then equip your characters to gain enhanced abilities
Story & Setting
This world, was created by Memories.
By merely existing, people become Memories of the planet and is how this world takes its shape. Even now, memories from the everlasting distant past are, Memories of this moment as well. But when Memories are lost, their existence is also erased. And that is what people call “Lost.” Things that are Lost was something could not be restored by the power of humans. This has been the way of things throughout the generations.
However, a major shift occurred when a young man encountered an unusual phenomenon, one that awoken the power of “Memories” within him. And that young man’s name is Kanata. Whether he will bring hope or new despair to the world is something that remains to be seen. But there is no mistake that Kanata’s journey surrounding Memories that is now beginning, will have an impact on the world.
Then out of nowhere, Memory loss ravaged the lands, along with the lunar bell town of Eru, Kanata’s home. Turning something that once existed into a white fog, that then disappears. This an incident that is occurring all over the world…
If there’s one thing that stands out about Lost Sphear, it would be its unique premise. The world you’re in and the places you once knew are fading just as old memories do. What was once tangible is now “lost”, and in its place, a hollow white mist.
The central theme of ‘Memory’ extends beyond the game and reaches out to long-time gamers of the genre, instilling a sense of nostalgia that sparks memories of their time spent with classics such as Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy and Secret of Mana.
And it was some of these titles that helped cement Square as an RPG powerhouse, in part due to the amount of freedom its players had with interpretation of the characters and stories, allowing them to craft their own narrative on top of an already established one. This was one of the defining facets of video games from the 90s and 80s.
The universe of Lost Sphear is one that is created by ‘Memories’ and players will traverse this realm on a large overworld map. Moving between the various locations found within it, with each area housing its own themes and cultures. They will explore this world through the eyes of Kanata, his childhood friends Locke and Lumina; and Van, a mysterious young man.
Encountering enemies in any area will seamlessly transition you to an arena. And just like with I Am Setsuna, the combat system in Lost Sphear employs the classic ATB (Active Time Battle) mechanics found in Chrono Trigger, but with the added edge that your characters can be maneuvered and positioned around the combat arena.
This introduces a layer of strategy to the game on not just what actions to take; as you’d usually do in a turn-based title, but where as well, giving you the capacity to unleash your entire payload on multiple targets at once with a properly aligned Line of Attack. And its with this ATB in place that creates for an exciting frenzy, as you’re forced to think quickly due to each turn in such a system being on a short timer.
Anyone who has played I Am Setsuna, knows that inns were absent and its worth pointing out that they’ll be making an appearance in Lost Sphear. In addition weapon shops, item stores and more. Another thing showing up in the game is a new feature in the form of powerful Mecha suits called “Vulcosuits “.
These are ancient mechanized suits of armor from a bygone civilization. They amplify their pilot’s abilities and come with a special function dubbed the “Paradigm Drive”, allowing its user to discharge multiple skills at once in a fixed amount of time. Vulcosuits will be quite handy as they can also, to some extent, be used outside of battle. Each character’s suit will have a variation to the armor’s Paradigm Drive and appearance.
And as mentioned earlier, Memory is the game’s encompassing theme and mechanic as well. Its protagonist Kanata, has the ability of ‘Memory’. And by reading books, collecting stories and memories from NPCs related to whatever it is that needs to be recovered, Kanata can turn these thoughts into reality, restoring and rebuilding what was has been “Lost”. Enemies that you come across on your journey will contain fragments of Memories as well. And approaching white mists will return that area to its former glory.
Audio & Visual
Tokyo RPG Factory will be bringing back the style of instrumental piano music that formed the basis of I Am Setsuna’s soundtrack into Lost Sphear. As that was an aspect of I Am Setsuna that was well-received by fans of the game. However, Lost Sphear‘s track listing will be taken up a notch and be layered with additional instruments to set itself apart and to accommodate the various scenes and scenarios.
A quick listen to Lost Sphear‘s music and you’ll find that it echoes of melancholy and sentimentality that encapsulates the listener in a warm and gentle mood. And it is without a doubt another standout for this upcoming game. Shying away from the large orchestral compositions we’ve all become accustomed to, in order to deliver tunes with carefully selected notes that tugs at your soul.
Visually, the game is appealing due to its very clean and polished presentation laden with detail and color but can be described as mobile game with very high Anti-Aliasing. While technically it is nothing to write home about, Lost Sphear‘s art direction is what carries it forward. For example, some towns and parts of the overworld incorporates a tilt-shift effect that’s used in photography, making for a pleasant appearance.
To summarize, the Lost Sphear has a unique premise, an engaging and dynamic battle system, along with a pleasing and refined look. Thus resulting in a game that appears to retain what it represents, but with a subtle and refreshing take on it.
You can check out more Preview Articles here.