Bittersweet Nostalgia: Reflecting on I Am Setsuna

I recently picked up the game I Am Setsuna for PlayStation 4.  For those not familiar with the game it is a JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) very similar in feel to 90s JRPGs like Final Fantasy and more specifically like Chrono Trigger.  Some have said I Am Setsuna is a “spiritual successor” to Chrono Trigger.

I Am Setsuna

The game tells the story of a young lady named Setsuna and Endir.  Endir is a mercenary who is hired to kill Setsuna.  Endir finds out that Setsuna is “The Sacrifice”.  She has been selected to give her life to save the world from monsters who overrun the world unless the sacrifice gives her life.  Setsuna is the latest in this line and Endir ends up joining Setsuna on this journey as a guardian.  Along the way, others join as guardians, each with their own story to tell.

There aren’t too many games that I know of where one of the main characters is destined to die.  It is that knowledge that seems to permeate throughout the game.  I will not spoil the ending for you (I have beaten the game) but this feeling of bittersweet is prevalent.

Video games like this one are what I grew up on in the 80s and 90s.  I am of that generation that grew up with video games in the home.  The wheelhouse of RPG games was definitely the 90s on the SNES and Playstation 1.  I loved Chrono Trigger.  I would dare say it is my favorite RPG game of all time.  I Am Setsuna does remind me of that game.  While I was playing it, I felt a little nostalgia playing it.  It reminded me of playing those RPGs like that as a teen.  And like the feeling of the characters in I Am Setsuna, it was bittersweet.

I think that is very much like nostalgia.  We remember the past and for the most part look fondly on it.  At the time of course there were problems that we dealt with but when we look back those problems don’t seem as bad (usually because they weren’t, especially when we were kids or teens).  We love to remember the good times and wish they would return.  But we also know that time is always moving forward.  We see and understand this all too well, especially when there are times of transition in our lives.

We all know what bittersweet is.  We have experienced it numerous times in our lives.  Times that had joyous moments but there was a hint of bitterness whether it was because of it being an ending to something or a loss or something that reminded us that as humans things are not perfect.  Until Jesus returns and makes things all right again, there will be bittersweet times.

I am glad that I played I Am Setsuna.  I would highly recommend the game.  And I’m glad the game made me think again about nostalgia and reminded me of those bittersweet feelings.  A good story (like in this game) is one that makes you think and makes you feel.  It should resonate with you.  And I believe that feeling of bittersweetness is one that resonates with us all.


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