Review: Ys: The Oath in Felghana

YsTheOathInFelghana.jpg

I had a rather … um … lousy first experience with the Ys franchise. The game was Ys: The Ark of Napishtim, which I reviewed back in spring of 2006 for a now-defunct site. My summation was that while playing I suffered a ‘death by a thousand load screens’, noting “The load times are not too long in Ys: The Ark of Napishtim, but they occur almost incessantly. There are so many load screens the developers came up with creative ways of displaying the words ‘Now Loading’. ” The enemy balance was terrible, and in general it was a highly forgettable game. I skipped the more recent Ys Seven, but am returning for another single player, action-oriented entry to the series.

In Ys: The Oath in Felghana you play as an ancient hero whose destiny is already set, but you are retelling events as the story unfolds in front of you. You are accompanying Dogi to his old hometown, which has recently come increasingly under attack from monsters, and you set out to help the town unravel this mystery, which in turn leads you on a grand adventure! It is a simple and straightforward story, with some interesting and fun characters and a couple of twists and turns along the way. You will never be surprised, but you will find everything about the story and characters charming and engaging.

Well, perhaps not everything. As I discovered, this is apparently an updated port of the Ys III game released in the US for the SNES, and as a result there are many things that feel a bit quaint or dated. The one that transcends into questionable territory is some of the voice acting. I had no issue with the translations or localizations, but some of the accents were stereotyped to the point of making me cringe!

The other mixed bag are the graphics. In general they are charming and look like a solid current PSP game. But at other times they get muddy and it is hard to figure out what is happening on screen and hard to see the tiny dropped items in huge dungeon rooms. Overall they work well, but when you get deep into a dungeon and need every health and energy drop possible, not seeing them because of the graphics is annoying!

But where the game thrives best is the gameplay. The game deftly combines 3D platforming and an action-RPG style of hack-n-slash combat. There are limitations to equipment and skills and so on, but those simplifications serve to keep the game rolling along at a fast pace. Basically you enter a dungeon area, wipe out enemies, and move on to the next area, eventually leading to the boss. There are plenty of healing opportunities, loads of save points, and the ability to retry a boss battle. All of this works well – and I love that the boss fights are particularly challenging, require you to use what you have recently learned, and don’t allow for healing during battle. It all adds to the excitement and sense of accomplishment.

I mentioned load times, so let me just quickly dismiss that – there are loads on each area, but they were only a couple of seconds and never really registered for me.

Overall Ys: The Oath in Felghana is an imperfect but fun experience. It is over fairly quickly – in a dozen or so hours – but with the fast paced action and fun combat system you never feel like you aren’t getting a great value for your money. Since playing this I picked up Ys Seven, and while I think overall that game is a better value, with a deeper story, characters and combat system, this offers a visceral thrill and sense of adventure that game lacks. Both games are very well done and very much worth playing so I won’t choose one over the other. Regardless, Ys has come a long way since 2006 and the last game I played – and now I can’t wait for the next entry!

BuyIt.jpg

Pros:
+ Excellent combat and platforming balance
+ Charming story and characters
+ Save points make for great pick-up-and-play

Cons:
– 3D platforming doesn’t always work well
– Feels like it is over just as you start to get settled in!
– Some cringe-worth stereotypes

Game Info:
Platform: PSP (available on UMD and PSN)
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: Falcom
Release Date: 11/2/2010
Genre: Action-RPG
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

[nggallery id=1461]

[nggallery id=1417]

About the Author

I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!