Square Enix announced that Lost Sphear, a spiritual successor to I Am Setsuna developed by Tokyo RPG Factory, will debut in January 2018. The company said the game will be released on January 23 in Europe and PAL territories; a North American release date was not announced. The U.S. version of the Lost Sphear website also shared a January 23 release date, however, so the title could simultaneously debut in those regions.
I Am Setsuna was something of a love letter to classic JRPGs. Square Enix's big games have largely shifted away from its classic combat and medieval fantasy motifs, which has left fans of the form pining for quality titles. That's where Tokyo RPG Factory came in. I Am Setsuna was an homage to Chrono Trigger, and Lost Sphear is supposed to continue that legacy with an updated Active Time Battle (ATB) system and new story.
A quick refresher: Many JRPGs used to feature turn-based combat that tasked rows of sprites with leaping forward, pummeling each other, then jumping back into their positions. Over time, however, developers experimented with more dynamic battle systems. The one used in Chrono Trigger featured time-based attacks performed by characters who could combine their efforts and freely roam around their environment.
Lost Sphear will use a similar system. Square Enix said in a press release that the game will "feature an enhanced gameplay system with a revamped ATB (Active Time Battle) system offering more freedom in combat, seamless environments, and various locations to explore." That's pretty standard '90s JRPG stuff. So is the game's story, the company's summary of which reads like a boilerplate for most classic games:
In [Lost Sphear], players will begin their adventure in a remote town where a young boy, Kanata, awakens from a devastating dream to find his hometown disappearing. To stop the world from being lost forever, Kanata and his comrades set out to rebuild the world around them with the power of Memory by manifesting thoughts into matter and restoring what was lost.
Yes, the main character's name is an anagram of "katana." No, we don't think that's a coincidence, even if he appears to use a broadsword in combat. Whether that sounds like delightful campiness or cringy kitsch will probably depend on how fondly you remember the JRPGs of yesteryear. With a January 2018 release, you'll only have to wait a few months to find out how well Lost Sphear lives up to those memories.
Square Enix plans to release Lost Sphear on PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch. You can pre-order the console versions of the game from the company's online store. Lost Sphear does have a Steam page, but you can't yet pre-order the title from Valve's digital marketplace.
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Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.