Sephirothic Stories is an RPG published by KEMCO, and you know exactly what that means, right? Retro graphics, derivative stories, and terms such as “world tree,” “verge of destruction” and “unlikely band” written right there in the game’s description.
In other words, you’ve seen all of this before both under and outside of KEMCO’s umbrella. The Japanese publisher has always embraced and borrowed from the history of JRPGs. That was quite a wonderful thing when they were releasing their titles for mobile devices so we could play something other than endless runners and match-three games. On consoles such as the Nintendo Switch, however—where bigger and much more modern JRPGs are in copious supply—there’s not quite as much room for a game of this type.
That doesn’t necessarily mean Sephirothic Stories is not worth trying, but rather that you just have to view it as a way to kill time between bigger releases.
The story is as bonkers and yet as familiar as you’d expect. You’ve got your unlikely hero (Harold) who must go on a quest to save his sister (Marnie) who is dying from something called the Murk. Harold meets many other characters along the way, some of whom will become his party members as he turn-based-battles his way across the kingdom. They’ll all level up and acquire new skills/items as they progress, and learn a thing or two about themselves along the way.
There will be betrayals and twists, moments of sadness and of triumph, and, of course, revelations that thrust them into roles much bigger than any had expected.
For the most part, the character interaction is light and humorous (albeit littered with translation errors) and, unlike in most RPGs, their distinctive traits are useful in more than just battles. For example, the aforementioned Harold can more easily detect monsters, whereas his beast-friend Izzy has better night vision. This gives you added incentive to switch around your party leader and it helps to keep things fresh as you proceed through the adventure. That’s important because shuffling around your characters to optimize your party for battles is largely unnecessary.
This game is quite easy throughout, making the available DLC rather pointless. You can actually purchase the ability to, for example, triple the amount of experience you gain or double the power of your attacks. I know a lot of gamers cry foul when they hear of the need to pay for features like this, but I’ve got no problem with it. I can think of a half-a-dozen games I’ve played in the past year where I’d’ve loved to purchase my way around traditional level-grinding, but Sephirothic Stories simply doesn’t need it.
Now, if you’ve played any of KEMCO’s releases for the Nintendo Switch, you’ll be interested to note that two items separate Sephirothic Stories from their other available games. The first is that it ditches the familiar 2D presentation and replaces it with a slightly more advanced 3D look. It’s a move forward for KEMCO, but not any further than the types of games you’d expect to see on your mobile device or tablet. The characters look okay, but the backgrounds are repetitive and rudimentary (albeit colorful). They don’t look charming, they just look kind of lazy.
The second is that there’s a puzzle element à la the Legend of Zelda in which you have to move around boxes and such in order to access certain areas. The puzzles are never terribly difficult, but they at least break up the fighting and inventory/abilities micromanagement (there’s plenty of that in ways you don’t need me to explain).
These are nice touches from KEMCO, but are they enough to make this an adventure worth taking? That’ll depend upon who’s playing.
Review: Sephirothic Stories (Nintendo Switch)
If you’re new to KEMCO games or JPRGs in general, Sephirothic Stories serves as a light, quick (the game can be finished in around 10 hours), simple introduction to the genre. Unless you’re looking for a deep challenge or a modern presentation, there’s nothing really wrong here. However, there’s also not much new or terribly interesting, making Sephirothic Stories a game that’s okay to miss.