What is Lost Sphear?
With a gorgeous pastel art style, traditional turn based battles, and a story that revolves around a ragtag group on a quest to save the world, Lost Sphear is role-playing adventure with an old-school feel from the folks that made I Am Setsuna. With a strange white mist making its way across the land, people, places and items have been disappearing without a trace, leaving only the mysterious mist in their place. When protagonist Kanata's home town becomes 'lost' to the mist, he discovers he, and only he, has a mysterious power - the ability to bring back the missing from the memories alone. And so, he and his childhood friends, the feisty Lumina and the goofball Locke, set off on a journey across the kingdom in an effort to recover everything that has become 'lost', and get to the bottom of the mysterious phenomenon once and for all.
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How do you play Lost Sphear?
Essentially a game of two halves, your time in Lost Sphear is split between exploring towns and cities to restore the 'lost' people and places, and battling monsters in dungeons and forests, as per your average role-playing adventure. For the former, you'll make your way through the game's strongly guided story, as you hunt down memories strong enough for Kanata to use to recover the 'lost' places from the white mist. Sometimes dropped in battle, sometimes found in and around town, these memories form solid crystal-like balls you can collect, and each person, place or item that's gone AWOL requires a certain number of certain types of memory crystals to rebuild. Sometimes, you'll need to talk to nearby characters with particularly strong attachments to the missing things, and create the memory crystals yourself, by holding down the corresponding button when a blue highlighted phrase appears.
When exploring Lost Sphear's many dungeons, winding forests and caves, you'll come across many a hostile monster spoiling for a fight. Battles are a simple turn-based affair, with you and your team mates taking it in turns to attack, sling special skills and use healing items. Perhaps unusually, after choosing your move, you can also freely move your character around the battlefield to choose who to attack - and with each attack having a different area of effect, a well-placed punch can damage multiple enemies in one go, if you're crafty. Once charged sufficiently, a Momentum Mode bar works as an overdrive of sorts, with a well-timed button press letting you squeeze in an extra attack for more damage. Meanwhile, equipping special crystals known as Spritnite lets you choose what special moves your characters can use. More Spritnite can be bought in stores, or found during the course of the story.
How easy is Lost Sphear to pick up and play?
On its standard difficulty, Lost Sphear is fairly straightforward, with battles against bog-standard enemies causing you very little trouble - however, boss fights do dial the difficulty up significantly, and will likely end in defeat if you're not careful. Fortunately, Lost Sphear does have an adjustable difficulty level, and dialling it down to easy will make your enemies weaker, and your party stronger, as well as having the added bonus of granting you extra money from battles. Extra cash is especially handy, as money can be a bit tight when you're trying to kit out your party with sufficient healing items, better equipment and new Spritnite moves. For those that like a challenge though, there is a hard difficulty too, which makes enemies tougher and reduces the rewards you get from fighting them, providing a rock solid experience.
Lost Sphear also has a useful 'Party Chat' option should you ever find yourself lost or struggling with where you should head next - hitting the button will get your party members to chime in with a reminder. However, you may need to hit it a couple of times to get something meaningful, as they do have a tendency to gossip. It's also worth noting that Lost Sphear is largely unvoiced, with everything, from story segments to hints and tips, done entirely through text, which makes reading a necessity here.
- "Hey, help a friend out, would ya? I'm looking to make Gaia Salad, but I'm all out of Goldhead Carrots. Any chance you could find me some?"
- "Oh, Kanata and Lumina. Thank you for coming. You probably heard, but someone said they saw monsters in town. Monsters are always around, but I'd still like you to check it out. Oh, and make sure you ring the alarm bell and warn the villagers first. Can you do that for me?"
- "Tsk, tsk! Hey, Plana! Sorry to bother ya just after ya got back from bein' lost, but time's runnin' out! We gotta talk over the new engine designs, or we're not gonna make the deadline! Tsk, tsk!"
On the whole, Lost Sphear is relatively tame in terms of mature content. Violence is limited to the game's turn-based combat, where players select moves from a list, and characters use sword slashes, cross bows and magical spells to battle with both human characters and fantastical creatures (goblins, robots, oversized toads). Attacks are accompanied by impact sounds, bright flashes of light and the occasional cry of pain, and defeated enemies simply fade away and disappear - no blood is shown whatsoever. Sexual content is pretty much non-existent, while bad language is limited to the very occasional utterance of the word 'b*stard'.
Format Reviewed: Playstation 4