Elsewhere, when Lost Sphear tries to innovate, it confuses overly-complicated game design for good or deep game design, and comes up with systems I struggled with throughout my time with the campaign. I never quite got the hang of a lot of the jargon thrown at me during the muddy tutorials, and as such I often felt a little lost.
Much like I Am Setsuna before it, I’m really taken with Lost Sphear’s presentation. It’s got a visual appeal that harkens back to the classic design of JRPGs from the SNES and PS1 era, but without the lack of fidelity that our memories often forget existed. In this way Lost Sphear is a perfect recreation of the games from our memories – at least from a visual standpoint. Everything is crisp and clean, with a cute aesthetic full of interesting character and monster designs.
The score is also familiar yet fresh, with some really great tunes that are only slightly dragged down by some forgettable ones. It plays on the same melancholic riffs that I Am Setsuna championed, and a nostalgic twinge that doesn’t desperately claw at you as some of the story beats do.
“Lost Sphear” is oftentimes a wonderful trip down memory lane, but it has some significant caveats. There’s a great game here, but it’s occasionally bogged down with its own legacy and some questionable design choices. Despite these shortcomings it does a good job at capturing the atmosphere and gameplay of the games I grew up playing. Even as a fan of that genre however I’m left wondering whether we have to rely on some of the less timeless tropes to capture those old vibes. I’m eager to see where Tokyo RPG Factory go from here, as both of their games have felt like they were testing the water for something altogether more original, yet still steeped in the classic (but altogether more positive) conventions that made us love these games in the first place. Maybe I’m asking too much – as I write it I certainly feel that’s the case – but I’m looking forward to whatever’s next regardless.
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