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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews I Am Setsuna.

Transcript Edit

I am Setsuna... in my lucrative side venture as a transvestite camwhore.

But by strange coincidence I Am Setsuna is also the name of a game that came out last week. It's a JRPG, because with a title like that of course it was going to be either a JRPG or a visual novel about an innocent young schoolmate and all the ways you can fuck her on a subway train. According to the Steam page, the game purports to be 'inspired by the timeless classic Chrono Trigger', with no apparent pun intended, and I was down for that because Chrono Trigger was a game from the SNES period of actually tolerable JRPGs before they became overwritten overdesigned claptrap full of interchangeable characters who have to get up at three in the morning to be properly dressed for dinner.

Sadly I Am Setsuna hasn't taken inspiration from any part of Chrono Trigger that mattered, such as the unique characters, imaginative plot that develops in interesting ways, or variety of environments with more than two colours, and merely recreates the combat and party mechanics somewhat faithfully, which is like claiming that your movie is inspired by Apocalypse Now because you also recorded it on film and employed sound engineers and pointed your camera at a fat bloke for ten minutes.

The plot of I Am Henry VIII I Am is that the titular Setsuna has been nominated to sacrifice herself to calm down all the world's monsters or something and has to make the difficult journey to the sacrifice shop because it never occurred to anyone to put on a fucking bus service, and a party of adventurers assembles to protect her on the way. I'd like to take a moment to draw your attention to one of the user-defined tags that was attached to this game on Steam: "Story rich". I take slight issue with it because you don't get Story Rich just from mugging Final Fantasy X in an alleyway and nicking their wallet. Final Fantasy X itself is only Story Rich in Zimbabwean dollars. Thankfully I Am Setsuna only nicks the pilgrimage plot device and not the rest of Final Fantasy X's plot and the player character as far as I know isn't a ghost footballer from the future.

Which brings me to the second user tag I want to bring up: "Female Protagonist", an outright stinking lie because the player character is a mercenary who becomes Setsuna's guardian. Setsuna's the important one, yes, and you can rearrange the party to put Setsuna in the vanguard if you feel you need a human shield, but it's still the mercenary whose dialogue we choose, when we make the recurring vital decision between agreeing with Setsuna or slightly sarcastically agreeing with Setsuna. Perhaps there's an argument to be made that the playable character needn't necessarily be the protagonist of the story, but if I'm honest I don't want Setsuna to be the protagonist because she's wetter than a fishing trip to Seattle.

Part of my disdain for JRPGs is that most of them read from the same cast list of stock characters - the angsty taciturn hero, the scarred veteran warrior who calls himself past it 'cos he's in his late twenties, and the pure and innocent girl who urinates lightly sparkling springwater and thinks a dildo is a character from Lord of the Rings. Setsuna's so fucking sweet and forgiving she gives me ice cream headache, but there's a point where we go beyond naively trusting into the realms of mental handicap. When she insists on you joining her party the only thing she knows about you is that you're a hired killer, specifically hired to kill her. "Oh player-san, I feel so comfortable around your upraised dagger and coppery stench of blood money." I made myself laugh again by imagining Setsuna meeting a rabid grizzly bear. "Oh I just know there's goodness in your heart, Mr. Tufty-" RAWR MAUL MAUL.

So I wasn't sure if I was going to review Ich Bin Ein Berliner so I said to myself, maybe I'll just play up to the end of the snowy area with the repetitive sad piano music and see how I feel, but the joke was on me because turns out that was the whole game. Which reminds me of another Steam user tag I take issue with - "Great Soundtrack". Exhibit Q in the ongoing case for standardized sarcasm quotes. It's a soundtrack produced by a hotel pianist locked in a studio for eighteen hours with a hockey mask on to stop him chewing his own hands off.

Your ongoing task is to show up at a settlement and solve whatever issue prevents you from proceeding to the next one, which usually involves acquiring a new party member so keep talking to NPCs until you find one whose name we are invited to change if it really matters to us that our adventuring party consists entirely of people named after breakfast foods. This process also involves a lot of combat with weirdly adorable monsters. You encounter groups of reject beanie babies knocking about in the overworld and you can get the surprise attack if you run into them before they notice you, but you have to have one foot in their breakfast burrito before they notice you so why would you ever not get the surprise attack.

The combat is like most televised news media in that it has something of a balance issue. Setsuna's claim on the protagonist title gets shakier by the minute because she's supposed to be the healer, and the player character gets a low cost full party heal spell early in the game. Admittedly it's only full party heal if everyone's standing next to each other, but they usually are, it's turn based combat, strategy straight from Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots. On top of that, several other characters have attacks that also inexplicably dole out full party heals if you use the special sort of quick time event but not really power up thing that grants additional effects, so with only three slots for active party members Setsuna can spend the game in my back pocket frantically jilling herself off with the neck of a potion bottle for all I care. I'm wondering why I'd want to use any of the squishy magic-focused characters when the others all have perfectly good magic attacks as well as useful standard attacks and can take hits without immediately folding up like a hotel room ironing board, except you never know when some plot development will force you to use them for a while and leave you facing the fuzzy horde five levels behind and armed with a spoon.

The monsters do their bit for the lack of balance, too, most of the random encounters are completely trivial until once in a while one of them gets off that one spell that ups all their stats and they proceed to turn you into a pulled pork sandwich. And then there are the optional elite enemies, which are distinguishable from the others only by their different colour - which doesn't count for much since half the enemies in the fucking game are palette swaps of older ones - and by the fact that the moment you enter the fight they fucking pound you into the coleslaw that came with the pulled pork sandwich.

You know what, I almost felt bad about complaining that the entire game is one big ice level, not every game has to be a fucking sightseeing tour and maybe it wanted to focus on something else, until I was looking for tips for a certain boss and realised I had no idea what to fucking google. "Ice caves boss?" That narrows it down to roughly all of them. Besides, if the game was focusing on something else, what the fuck could it have been? The emotional impact of Setsuna's tragic inspirational story? I got more emotional parting ways with my fucking yeast infection.

Addenda Edit

  • I am legend: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • It's not inspired by Chrono Trigger unless there's an animation of a princess slapping her arse
  • And after the sarcasm quote, the rhetorical question mark
Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2 · Hellblade · Agents of Mayhem · Sonic Mania · Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle · Destiny 2 · Metroid: Samus Returns
Q4 Knack 2 and SteamWorld Dig 2 · Cuphead · Hob and A Hat in Time

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