A Nostalgic, Mediocre Game Lacking In Originality
In an age of evolving role-playing games like Persona 5 and Final Fantasy XV, it’s somewhat refreshing to see a title like Lost Sphear defiantly steering clear of this, reveling in its nostalgia-driven aesthetic. Although the game suffers from a lack of innovation and memorable characters, what Lost Sphear does well, it does very well. Unfortunately it’s also a title that’s unlikely to be remembered for years to come.
Aesthetically, the game looks great and some of the lighting effects are impressively rendered
The story begins with a young boy called Kanata who awakens following a mysterious dream to find large chunks of the world, including his own town, erased from existence by a strange, sparking white phenomena referred to as the “Lost”. Following a series of events, it turns out Kanata has the ability to reverse the Lost through some unknown power. What follows is an epic journey as Kanata travels across the world, accompanied by a merry band of misfits, to save the world before it vanishes from existence completely. The story is certainly enjoyable and there are a few memorable moments although it does become unnecessarily convoluted during the latter stretches of the plot.
Between the in-game cutscenes and pockets of dialogue-heavy story, most of the game time is broken up by a plethora of dungeons and towns to explore. During the 30+ hours playing through this adventure, Lost Sphear revels in most of the tropes and cliches you’d expect from this genre. Big boss battles, a maniacal main villain, slapstick humour from the supporting cast and a whole lot of travelling across the environment are all common occurrences in this game. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the lack of innovation makes the game feel ancient, highlighting some of the limitations this genre brings.
Most of the controls are relatively straight forward and easy to pick up from the start. Moving around the map is done in a third person viewpoint with your group tailing along behind you as you traverse through the landscape. There’s an almost isometic, pixellated style to Lost Sphear despite the 3D landscapes and character models. Gusts of wind cause shrubbery and grass to blow, butterflies flutter lazily through the air and water glistens like diamonds under the hot sunlight. There’s no denying that at least aesthetically Lost Sphear is a real looker and each environment and dungeon is well designed for the most part, making it exciting to explore the next area. Despite a number of different areas and a seemingly large area of land to explore, Lost Sphear does features a fair amount of backtracking that feels like unnecessary padding in the game.
Despite the open world map, areas are strictly linear to explore
In true JRPG fashion, there’s a lack of voice dubbing too meaning an abundance of text to read through. Although this does come as a welcome change from some of the stifled, over-acted dubbing plaguing mainstream titles nowadays, it can be a little jarring to those not expecting it. In battle there are some generic Japanese phrases for the characters but these are few and far between. For the most part the script work is good and there’s easily hundreds of NPCs to speak to on top of the key characters you’ll encounter. As you may expect, a lot of these conversations are pretty generic; NPCs will ramble on about general observations in the world as well as personal issues affecting that specific character.
The battle system is generally very good and there’s just enough tactical intrigue here to keep it fresh
Throughout the time spent playing Lost Sphear, it becomes increasingly apparent there’s obvious influences from a host of old school role playing games, most notably Final Fantasy VI, VII and Chrono Trigger. Early on you’re given some mech suits which are similar to that seen in Final Fantasy VI and some of the humorous character animations from the side characters feel ripped straight from Final Fantasy VII. While these are ith these obvious influences Lost Sphear fails to really stand out from a host of other roleplaying games that have already done what this game sets out to achieve. This makes the game somewhat of a passive experience as you constantly compare it to other RPGs with the same style.
The one area Lost Sphear actually excels in is the battle system. Once you’re engaged with enemies, the cleverly crafted turn based system allows you to move freely around the battlefield before attacking. This can be manipulated to your advantage , especially specialist characters in ranged attacks who can take out multiple enemies at once with a well placed blast. As the game opens up, the options in battle include switching to your mech suit, crafting magic and initiating special skills that can all help turn the tide in battle, especially boss fights. The system does take a little getting used to and certainly opens an extra element of tactical skill as you manoeuvre around the battlefield which helps the longevity of this title.
Lost Sphear suffers from a lack of compelling, originally written characters
When the nostalgia wears off and the allure of the battle system runs its course there really isn’t anything here that hasn’t been done better and more effectively elsewhere. Lost Sphear feels like a hollow shell of a game, lacking some much-needed innovation and personality to set it apart from other games in this genre. As a full retail priced game, it’s difficult to recommend Lost Sphear. On sale or as a rental purchase, Lost Sphear is a nostalgic blast and fun to play through but when the charm wears off, there just isn’t enough here to help it stand out from the plethora of other games on the market.