While pursuing the Nintendo store on the switch last night I came across Tokyo RPG Factory’s latest entry Lost Sphear. For those not in the know ( its okay I wasn’t either) Lost Sphear is the spiritual successor to I Am Setsuna another JRPG that pays tribute to the 1990’s RPGs that came before it. According to the demo description Lost Sphear follows a similar vein in design and as someone who both grew up a gamer and has a love for the classics figured that it was worth firing up the demo to see what this title was all about. As the game is scheduled to release in North America early next year this will be a quick first impressions piece of the demo. So without further ado let’s take a look at the demo for Lost Sphear.
The Demo drops you into the game with very little explanation of what is happening in the world, who you are or what you’re supposed to be doing. Starting with a party in around level 18 I simply began exploring an overworld that reminded me a lot of Chrono trigger. As I troddled along character dialogue in the form of scrolling text informed me that we were essentially sent here to aid the empire in stopping rounding up some people that the empire wanted captured. So after several minutes exploring the aforementioned overworld I came to my first real zone to explore.
After some additional dialog I was free to explore my way through a rocky desert setting where I was introduced to movement, navigation and the basic combat mechanics. After some quick trash mob fights and a little discovery I was thrown into the main plot line of the demo which had me chasing the leader of the group we were sent to capture and ended in a grand boss fight that took some work to beat.
The visuals and world building in the small demo that I experienced definitely pay tribute to and are inspired by some of the JRPGs of old. With its 2D map layout and art direction I appreciated the intelligent use of colors and other visual cues to express items or areas of importance.
Combat in Lost Sphear also finds its roots comfortably set in an Active Time Battle System with each character’s attacks ending with a short cool down before allowing you to attack again. The abilities and spells possessed by characters are what you would expect to find in the genre but impressed was the development of abilities and the importance of positioning. When preparing your attacks in LS you are given the opportunity to reposition your character on screen allowing you to position area of effect spells and attacks for maximum damage. It may seem like a small thing but I found combat to be much more engaging and rewarding.
Another interesting battle mechanics the mech system that can be deployed before combat essentially turning each of your party into their own mech with unique abilities and attacks. This of course uses its own special resource that must be managed with potions and such but it was a great mechanic that also aids in exploration. Some impossible objects become fodder when running in Mech mode and other areas can only be reached while running as a human party. Over all the system adds another layer to both combat and exploration.
At this point I find it hard to be excited or deterred by Lost Sphear. I loved some of the elements that I saw in the game. The tribute to my childhood gamer makes me interested to see how the game and story will develop. Combat is engaging and the introduction of mechs and as well as positioning was a real treat and exciting development for the genre. Yet being dropped into the middle of the game with no real explanation or understanding did make it hard to really engage with the experience. The demo is really just that and doesn’t really give me enough of an impression to know if it is something I would want to commit to. However you don’t need to take my word for it as the demo is now available on the Nintendo Store with a full release to North America coming January 23rd to the Switch, PS4 and Windows.