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LOST SPHEAR is an Action-Packed JRPG Filled with Lost Memories and Mech Suits

LOST SPHEAR is an Action-Packed JRPG Filled with Lost Memories and Mech Suits

After spending the last decade or so moving away from its established footing in RPGs towards action-oriented combat games, Square Enix is at long last finding new ways to return to its turn-based roots. The publisher’s Japanese studio, Tokyo RPG Factory, found success with the 2016 release of I Am Setsuna, and follow-up Lost Sphear aims to expand upon its predecessor’s gameplay features. It’s got the same top-down perspective and a similar Active Time Battle System, but Lost Sphear also has plenty of elements that help it stand on its own.

During a demo session with Square Enix last week, I grew intrigued by how Lost Sphear combined elements of action- and turn-based fighting systems. There’s a command menu and a timer counting down to each character’s turn, as you’d expect from a JRPG, but the action happens in real time, not a cutaway battle screen. What’s more, your position on the battlefield can determine the range and damage of attacks, so the fighters in your line-up need to move around the field to find the best angle. The result is fast-paced combat that utilizes both old-school and modern RPG mechanisms to great effect.

Another fun element of Lost Sphear’s combat is the use of Vulcosuits, mechanized suits of armor that raise characters’ stats when worn. Using Vulcosuits opens up a different set of powerful abilities on the field, but they also have their use outside of battle—for instance, crushing heavy obstacles in your path. Aside from serving as fun robot outfits, Vulcosuits are strongly tied to the game’s story as well; they were used by a long-lost civilization and become relevant again as a new threat emerges.

In this world, everything is made of memories; when a memory fades, the corresponding part of the world turns white and essentially disappears. Our protagonist, Kanata, realizes early on that he has the power to restore these memories before everything is lost, and is helped along by the mysterious Obaro, who was resurrected by Kanata and his pals. My demo consisted of two 30-minute sessions set during different parts of the game, so I still have a lot of questions about the story, but the taste of Lost Sphear I got was just enough to make me want to find out more.

I found myself still thinking about Lost Sphear for hours after I walked away, and I’m now eagerly awaiting its January 2018 release on the PS4 and Nintendo Switch. There’s something so interesting about a world built on memories, and I want to know more about how they disappear. The battle system is genuinely fun, if a bit hectic at times, and I’m determined to master it. As a longtime RPG fans, it’s good to know that studios like Tokyo RPG Factory are keeping that classic spirit alive.

Images: Square Enix

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