Lost Sphear review for PS4, Switch, PC

Platform: PS4
Also On: Nintendo Switch, PC
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Tokyo RPG Factory
Medium: Digital/Disc/Cart
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

In 2015 Square Enix formed a studio called Tokyo RPG Factory and that new studio was tasked with creating a new series that started with the game I Am Setsuna. Many thought that this was a much-needed shot in the arm of the fading JRPG (Japanese Role Play Game) genre, and Setsuna was released to above average reviews and a good price point of $20. Now Tokyo RPG Factory has released a new project, Lost Sphear. A more ambitious project than their first, Lost Sphear is an attempt to really recapture the spirit of classic console JRPG, and pique the interest of more mature gamers who remember the golden age of the JRPG from the Super Nintendo to the PlayStation 2. Let?s see if it worked.

The opening scenes of the game speaks of a legend that the moon created the world. There is an endless cycle of the world being destroyed and rebuilt. Now is apparently the time when the world is destroyed to make it new again.

The story follows Kanata and a group of friends and allies as the world around them becomes ?lost?. This is when vast sections of the world turn bright white and basically disappear. The reason behind this is that everything is made of memories, and when all the memories are lost, then the item, person, or place turns white and becomes lost. Kanata is the only person with the ability to find solidified memories and use them to recover things that have become lost. While that part of the story is confusing most of the rest of it is not, and is rather bad. At the beginning of the game when you get control of Kanata, he makes his way to the village elder?s house. The elder tells him that there is a monster running around town and go ring the alarm bell and then kill the monster. On the way to the alarm bell, he runs into his friend Locke, who is passed out on the road. Thinking the monster attacked him, you go to help. Turns out he was lying on the road because he was hungry… Later on in the game, Kanata meets the emperor of the realm, but not in the way he would expect while the world is in crisis and is disappearing. Would Kanata meet the emperor in the palace? Or in some strategy room commanding his knights? Nope. Instead we find the emperor disguised as a weaponsmith in the imperial capital wanting to get to know his subjects better.

At least the look of the game is good. Lost Sphear doesn?t appear like it would win any awards in the graphics department, however, it does a nice job conveying that it wants to be a classic JRPG and fit in with that crowd instead of today?s amazing looking JRPGs like Final Fantasy XV. The camera is always fixed above the characters and no camera adjustments are available. The game does a great job in not needing to adjust the camera anyway.

Fights take place on the same screen that Kanata is exploring and monsters can be seen wandering around the field. When he gets too close, a fight starts the monsters fan out and get ready to attack and Kanata?s party does the same. When attacking, characters move to the monster, attacks and stops. Fortunately, when choosing what to do during the characters turn, players can choose how and where that character moves to. Basic attacks can even hit multiple monsters if they are close enough on the field and special abilities also have ranges and different hit sizes and areas. Trying to figure out how to make an attack hit two monsters can be satisfying and frustrating at the same time. Fights would have a better sense of urgency if the monsters could act anytime, instead of just outside of attack selection.

Skills and special attacks in Lost Sphear are not earned in the game, instead they are purchased. This brings me to another issue I have with the story. They are purchased with physical memories. Now until this crisis of things being ?lost? started, physical manifestations of memories hadn?t been seen. Furthermore, Kanata seems to be the only person on the planet capable of this ability. So why are there shops setup to trade memories for abilities? If you look past some of the glaringly bad story choices in the game, overall it is fun.

Thanks to the graphical style, battle system and music, overall Lost Sphear is a reasonable attempt at bringing back the feel of the classic JRPG from the golden SNES era. It?s too bad they made some of the story choices they did, though if it weren?t for that, Lost Sphear would have been a much better game.

Note: Square Enix provided us with a Lost Sphear PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: B-