Lost Sphear may be be a nostalgia-saturated throwback to classic Japanese role-playing games, but that doesn’t mean it’s a completely predictable (or easily understood) game.
Even in homage, it has its own quirks and intricacies, and while some of them are explained in great detail, others aren’t. There’s a noticeable degree of inconsistency between which points the game drives home and which points it expects players to work out on their own. And for a game with as many moving pieces as Lost Sphear, that can make for a pretty bumpy ride.
We may not be able to iron out every bump ahead if you’re just embarking on your own Lost Sphear journey, but we can absolutely save you time, energy and resources by sharing a few things we had to learn the hard way.
Don’t be a sitting duck
Whether a character is using a spritnite ability or just landing a basic attack, characters can always move before confirming their next action. Sometimes they’ll need to do this just to hit their intended target, but even if they don’t, it’s a good idea to keep their placement in mind. Even seemingly single-target attacks can have a slight area of effect (AOE) if perfectly placed.
Moreover, there are several bosses that can wipe your party out in a single swipe if you’re all bunched up together. Even if their skills don’t force you to move them around, being conscious of every character’s placement on the battlefield is a habit worth developing early.
Play at your own pace
Lost Sphear uses an active time battle (ATB) system. Instead of taking strict turns, every enemy and ally has a meter that fills up over time and eventually allows them to act. Managing ATB is a big part of succeeding with the game’s combat, but it can also be a little overwhelming to deal with at first.
In the game’s settings, you can switch between active and semi-active modes. In semi-active, you don’t gain ATB while you’re in a skill menu or while you’re plotting out your attack, so you have more time to read descriptions and lay down the perfect hit. In active mode, however, that clock is always ticking. If you prefer the challenge and the sense of urgency, then active is perfect for you, but if you’re unfamiliar with your party’s capabilities or are just getting acclimated to the flow of combat, semi-active is the better choice.
Don’t feel obliged to babysit
Characters seem to level up at the same rate regardless of whether they’re in your active party, so if a character just isn’t clicking or isn’t useful to you in their present state, don’t bother cycling them in and out. Play with whoever clicks in the moment — but remember to experiment as you gain access to new abilities. Your least favorite squaddy may very well surprise you once you’ve opened up a few extra skill slots.
Don’t wait for save points
Luminous blue save points are scattered around the world of Lost Sphear, and they allow you to alternate between several save slots. But if you only ever save at these points, you’re destined for some serious heartbreak — especially in later chapters, where they become increasingly infrequent sights on an increasingly difficult path. Pressing the Options button will allow you to quick-save almost anywhere, and once you start meeting random enemies with instant-kill abilities, you will absolutely want to take advantage of that.
Wait — what?
Not only is Lost Sphear guilty of burying itself in jargon and unnecessary, invented terminology, but its story is often convoluted and difficult to follow. Some moments are belabored and drawn out, while others are so abrupt that it can feel like you’ll blink and miss a key detail. Thankfully, tapping L1 on PlayStation 4 (or its equivalent on Nintendo Switch and Windows PC) allows you to review previous dialogue in a conversation, which is especially welcome when the game is describing some of its more meandering ideas.
It’s a bit harder to recap information once you exit those conversations, but hitting R1 (or its equivalent) allows you to ask your party members for their thoughts. It may take a few presses, but eventually they’ll helpfully remind you where you should be going next.
Not all loot is worth your time
We don’t love thinking about how much time we spent chasing after every single sparkle (or “glow spot”) early in our time with Lost Sphear. While chests typically contain equipment, bundles of usable items or larger sums of gold that are always worth the detour, the game uses glow to distribute just about everything else.
Yellow glow spots, for instance, tend to contain cooking ingredients (which you can bring to inns and prepare) or very small amounts of gold. These glow spots regenerate pretty quickly, so you could spend hours hunting each one down, only to find that they’ve all repopulated in your wake. While you will want ingredients from time to time, there will be plenty of these spots in your path over the course of the game, so we never found it worthwhile to go out of our way for them.
Blue glow spots indicate where you can collect a memory. Memories are like a kind of crafting component — you’ll need them to build artifacts in the world, as well as to buy abilities for your party members. Some memories are more common than others, and running out of a certain variety of memory was the number-one problem that forced us to grind, so blue glow spots are much higher-priority than their yellow counterparts.
Purple glow spots, meanwhile, are the most important loot in the game. Often placed along story-critical paths, purple glow spots give you access to new artifacts that you can build on the world map — and they do not respawn after you collect them. Artifacts provide a broad array of buffs and bonuses, and the right combination of them can be enough to carry a party through a difficult encounter. So the more you have to choose from, the better.
Leave no stone pillar unturned
A crucial element of surviving tougher fights (and accessing certain areas of the world) in Lost Sphear is vulcosuits, essentially power armor with abilities unique to each character. These abilities aren’t available right out of the gate, however.
Each vulcosuit is connected to a sort of magical pillar (or “spritnite column”) of which there are several scattered around the world. You won’t be able to use a vulcosuit’s unique abilities until you activate the corresponding pillar during your journey across the map. It’s easy to overlook this, especially since you don’t have to engage with most of these pillars to progress the story. But once you get to a new area, any nearby pillar should be your first stop. Without them, your vulcosuits are only working at a fraction of their true potential.
Your artifacts aren’t sacred
Artifacts are essentially monuments that you’ll be building around the world in Lost Sphear. They can affect drop rates, critical chance, ATB charging and everything in between, with some only offering local bonuses and others reaching globally.
Suffice it to say that building out your ideal artifact array is a significant part of the game, but that doesn’t mean you need to be too precious about them. Artifacts aren’t permanent. You can build and rebuild them, and even toggle their effects on and off in the menu (which is particularly useful for artifacts that have an effect on both allies and enemies). There’s no reason not to play around with different configurations to find out what works best for you.
But don’t be too eager
Here’s a tip to spare you some resource grinding: Near the end of the game, all artifacts on the map will be reset, forcing you to refill those slots around the world. If (like us) you spent a lot of time just before that point perfecting all your artifact placements, then this will be a major annoyance and a waste of memories. But if you know it’s coming, it’s a good opportunity to start fresh and lock in everything you’ve found most effective up to that point.
And one last thing:
The end is not always the end
... but the less said about that, the better.