Hands-on review: Lost Sphear is an old-school JRPG
Square Enix is the current king of JRPGs as the publisher/developer has been responsible for such classics like the popular Final Fantasy series to even the much loved Chrono Trigger from the SNES era. Lost Sphear is a new JRPG from Square Enix, although it has a more retro style look compared to AAA efforts such as Final Fantasy XV.
Due to the old-school style of gameplay, Lost Sphear feels and looks more like a game that could have come out back in the '90s. That's not to say the graphics are outdated though, because the 2D cartoon visuals look impressive for what it's worth.
The thing that makes this game feel so retro is due to the camera perspective as well as the older style of combat system. The game uses a semi-top down camera viewpoint reminiscent of JRPGs from the '80s and '90s. There's also even an overworld where you can explore the wider area of the game's landscape.
In terms of its story, Lost Sphear starts off pretty slow but improves a bit as you further progress. You essentially start out playing as the main character named Kanata who lives with his friends in a small town called Eru. Kanata and his friends venture outside Eru to do a bit of exploring, but when they come back they see the town and other landscapes covered in a mysterious white fog. It's almost as if their hometown just vanished in thin air for some reason! Therefore Kanata and his friends have to go out on an adventure trying to restore the land to the way it used to be. He has to restore the 'Memories' of the land, and also find out the cause of the fog itself.
Even though the game has a somewhat interesting premise, the main thing that drags this game down is due to its monotonous presentation. The story is told at a very slow pace due to it not having any voice acting or cool looking cutscenes to gawk at.
Most of the storytelling is done by watching boring and long conversations between the characters in the game. That's not to say that a lot of reading is bad, but the slow pace does make the dialogue scenes drag out longer than they should. Gameplay wise, Lost Sphear does not innovate the JPRG genre in any interesting ways. It just plays like a standard JRPG with an active turn-based combat system. You can move the characters around the battlefield and everyone has to wait for their turn to attack. Thankfully, the game does not have any random battles and you can see enemies on the battlefield at any time. That said, the combat is very generic and the game doesn't offer anything new to veterans of the JPRG genre like myself.
To somewhat break the monotony of combat, later in the game the party has access to something called Vulcosuits. There are mech-like suits that makes combat better than before, although you may have to save them at important points. They are best used against bigger boss fights.
Overall, Lost Sphear is not a bad JRPG, but it does not further the genre in any fashion. It's just a very average and adequate JPRG that has an okay combat system and decent music. The thing that holds this game down is that the story is slow and reading all of the dialogue conversations gets boring really quick.