Title: Ys: The Oath in Felghana
Publisher: Xseed Games
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Release Date: November 2, 2010
MSRP: $29.99 (Standard Edition), $39.99 (Limited Collector’s Edition)
Genre(s): Action RPG
ESRB Rating: T- Teen
Adventurers suffer a great deal of wanderlust for many reasons. Whether it is on a journey for self-discovery, looking for buried treasure, or saving the damsel in distress it rarely ever ends. Such is the case for Adol “The Red” Christin in Ys: The Oath in Felghana. Ported over from a 2005 Japanese PC release, Adol’s adventure continues in the land of Felghana where disasters, monsters, and the tyrannical Count McGuire have been plaguing its people. With his best friend Dogi by his side they enter the town of Redmont where Dogi grew up. From here Adol’s quest begins, but does it stumble or emerge victorious in battle? Have a seat and read on.
As stories go it hits all the major plot points of other Japanese RPGs before it. Nothing wrong with that but this feels like it hit them all and decided not to stray beyond that. Characters’ actions and motivations are pretty obvious from the get-go with little to no surprises. Unlike the previous entry in the PSP remakes, Ys Seven, the game has voice acting which is a gesture I appreciate. Unfortunately, besides Dogi and maybe 1 or 2 others the English voice acting is not that good; think overly dramatic delivery with some stereotypical writing. There’s no Japanese option so you’ll be stuck with it. The environmental graphics are much improved over the previous game with less jaggy polygons and a bit more detailed. Character models look like high-res’d SNES 2D sprites which fit well. I must say the music is pretty sweet with a wide variety of charming tunes to high intensity ones that really set the tone for what situation Adol finds himself in. I only wish my digital copy came with the soundtrack as a bonus.
This is a solo adventure so players will only be playing as Adol the entire time. You have your main quest and some side quests but for the most part these latter are not memorable and have no effect on the story. As an action RPG, players will be hacking and slashing monsters in real-time. Leveling up is simplified and since items can’t be used in battle, you’ll have to rely on quick thinking and even faster reactions to keep yourself alive: this is doubly so in boss battles which are tough, fun as they may be. Loot in the form of temporary increases in magic, speed, strength as well as gold and health are dropped but only outside of boss battles. As you progress Adol gains magical skills that can be used to attack enemies as well as traverse environmental obstacles. The amount of equipment Adol acquires throughout his quest is minimal but can be upgraded in town. With everything simplified and the fact you’re only controlling Adol it just lacks the depth that charmed me in the previous game that made me want to grind to make my characters stronger. Also imagine my surprise when the game ended near the 10-hour mark: Ys Seven hit 20 hours easily.
My major complaint about the game is that Adol and other enemies and objects on-screen are too small. Whether it’s because the sprites are too small or the camera is too far the point is I sometimes found myself not knowing what I was slashing at in combat. Also this made reacting to enemies harder because I couldn’t tell what they were doing. There were even a couple of times where I almost had to squint. And when items dropped – oh man – it was like finding a single coin on a beach. Some pieces of gold looked like they were created from a single pixel cut in half they were so small.
Overall as much as I wanted another one of Adol Christin’s stories and as fun as this game was I was disappointed with how it turned out. The lack of depth, relative brevity of the game, and the presentation issues aside from the music and improved graphics, cooled my enthusiasm the more I played it. With a bunch of difficulty settings to play with and the ability to revisit old boss battles really hardcore players can get into it, but for the rest of us it will be an adventure only experienced once. From a ratings scale of worst to best: Ugh, Mediocre/Okay, Good, Great, & Excellent; Good.