Classic JRPG ambition.
Lost Sphear is Tokyo RPG Factory’s latest attempt at capturing 90’s JRPG fans once over, and in almost every regard, it has succeeded in doing so. With heavy influences from both classic JRPGs and new-age renditions, Lost Sphear creates a touching story and likeable characters, making for a solid JRPG title to add to your library across the foray of releasing platforms.
The opening sequence of Lost Sphear is all too familiar to the JRPG genre, as you are plotted in a makeup of mystery as the curious adventurer, Kanata. Starting out inside your home, your first job is to regroup with your fellow adventurer friends as you are told that one of them has gone missing – the cheeky, mischievous Locke. In cliché fashion, the rekindling is nothing but a prologue to the inevitable mystery and tragedy that strikes your small town, known as Elgarthe. A blanket of white opaque floods your town and neighbouring cities, and it inexplicably becomes Kanata’s job to find out why. In a coincidental manner, Kanata slips into a dream, and it is here he discovers that his memories have the power to restore life to his town through ‘memory shrines’. As you visit your first shrine, a small part of the town is restored, which is where the mysteries begin to unravel.
As you delve deeper and deeper into the mystery of the white mist that surrounds the region, traversing towns will become common as you and your friends work to uncover the beholder of the havoc. As the story unfolds, you’ll find that the mystery extends not only to your town and neighbouring region, but a mystery that holds the potential of world destruction. While it certainly isn’t the most creative or riveting story I’ve seen in a JRPG, keeping an open mind and going in with little assumptions of Lost Sphear and its constant nods to past titles (notably, Tokyo RPG Factory’s brilliant work on I Am Setsuna) made Lost Sphear’s story both comedic and enjoyable during my playthrough.
As the story, inquisitions, and battles scale exponentially, you’ll need to make strategic use of the characters in your party. Kanata is posed as an all-rounder, while Lumina will be your second most valuable asset (a well-balanced healer) only to Locke, who is incredibly useful with powerful, long-range attacks, something I’ve seldom seen in the current era of JRPGs. Encountering my first few rounds of battles was a delight in Lost Sphear. Battles are swift, free-flowing and allow the strengths of your characters to strategically and powerfully shine.
With each battle, you can tactically position your party, as well as having full vision over your enemies throughout each cycle. My little tip for progressing through easier battles quickly, and difficult battles with greater ease, is to position Locke with initial long-range attacks, bringing Kanata to deal damage at close range as a follow up. Positioning Locke closer and closer as you begin to build greater damage with Lumina providing heals to Locke will position you well for every battle as it progresses. To sum up, the battle system in Lost Sphear is a highlight, providing a mechanism to deal damage to multiple foes in tandem, as well as having free movement to dodge attacks gives you the feeling of invincibility in your early battles.
Graphics and Sound
Visually and audibly, Lost Sphear stands up to its fellow JRPG titles with a familiar base for its soundtrack, as well as colourful art for its characters and surrounding scenery. Lost Sphear and its beautifully orchestrated soundtrack is none to different to what you may have heard in other Square Enix-guided titles, but offers beautiful strings, mostly reminiscent to that of Chrono Trigger. While not quite matching Chrono Trigger-esque calibre, it stands up surprisingly well and compliments your town exploration and battle sequences in an appropriate manner. The visual stand-up of Lost Sphear is far from remarkable, and at times, can appear a little dated. Textures seem slightly steered to the blurred side of the spectrum, and don’t have the beautifully crafted softer tones we’ve seen in I Am Setsuna.
Forming only its second title since its birth, Tokyo RPG Factory have created a solid, fun and approachable RPG in Lost Sphear, with an addictive battle system, interesting characters and a wacky story and setting. While some of the backstory and intriguing details of its story are left out where normally spoon-fed, Lost Sphear does well to strike a balance of setting your mind off on a tangent of creativity, while pulling you back in to its fast-paced and enjoyable setting. It won’t blow your socks off if you’ve already set foot in I am Setsuna – but positions itself as a definite recommendation in what might be viewed as a slow start to 2018 for RPG fans.
Thank you to Bandai Namco for providing a copy of Lost Sphear for review.