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Even if it falls short of becoming a worthy successor to the likes of Chrono Trigger, Lost Sphear really does capture the essence of classic role-playing games in a lot of ways. When it's not bogging itself down in overwrought mechanics, this RPG really can spark a sense of nostalgia. Its writing, environments, battle system, and music all evoke the best moments of bygone days. And even if it doesn't quite hit the heights it aspires to, it does a fine job of rekindling some fond memories.
Lost Sphear is a more ambitious JRPG than its predecessor, yet it risks abandoning its purpose to return to the genre's simpler days.
Bland and unambitious save for its combat, Lost Sphear draws so heavily from the traditions of past JPRGs that it fails to build a personality of its own.
Old school JRPG fans will find much to enjoy here, but the refusal to innovate does more harm than good for the genre's reputation.
The combat is fun and the plot takes some interesting turns, but that doesn't change the frustrating design and tediousness
Tokyo RPG Factory's follow-up to I Am Setsuna improves on the first game's combat, but feels like a by-the-numbers RPG in other areas.
If you had asked me just two weeks ago to name the biggest storytelling sin a game could commit, I would have told you it was making players ask questions without giving them a reason to care about the answers. Ask me today and I'll tell you something different. Lost Sphear buried me under convoluted logic and explanations, lore and jargon, only to cast it aside with a shrug whenever the details were inconvenient to the action. It answered my questions, but in ways so fundamentally disconnected and absurd that I regretted even caring in the first place.
Lost Sphear is a colorful, charming game, and does a pretty good job of triggering the nostalgia folks like me have for SNES RPGs of their youth. It just doesn't quite reach the heights of the titles it's influenced by. There's nothing wrong with it, but by trying to be everything to everybody, Lost Sphear becomes sort of a pastiche of other RPGs rather than something which will be remembered for its own merits. I've certainly enjoyed my time with the game, and I think it's worth playing. But I know deep down that in a few years I'm far more likely to replay Chrono Trigger for a twentieth time than I am to come back to Lost Sphear.
Here's hoping that Tokyo RPG Factory's next project takes that gameplay design and applies it to a heartfelt story that doesn't feel like it was assembled on a conveyor belt.