Ys: Oath in Felghana Review

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Title: Ys Oath in Felghana
Developer: XSEED, Falcom
Game Type: PlayStation Portable
Download: 782 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download, Direct Download
EU Availability: Digital Download, Direct Download
PSTV Support: Yes

Thanks to the backwards-compatibility options of the system, the PlayStation Vita has a lot of games to play, other than native games.  The Vita has options to play PS Vita and PlayStation Mobile titles, but can also play PS1 Classics, PlayStation Minis, and PlayStation Portable titles.  This greatly increases the number of games it can plays and brings about specific situations for various franchises.

One of these situations is that there are some game franchises that can thrive on the Vita.  Some franchises have a lot of their main games playable on the Vita, if not all of them.  A few examples of these franchises are Chrono, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear, and Persona.  These offer situations where the majority of the franchise can be played on the Vita on its own (or the PlayStation TV, assuming all of the games are compatible), and these are big reasons some people suggest getting the system.

Another such franchise that is thriving on the PS Vita is the Ys franchise.  The Ys series has seven main entries in its series, five of which are playable on the Vita and the next game in the series also coming to the Vita.  We’ve reviewed most of these already, with Ys I and II Chronicles, Ys Seven, and Ys: Memories of Celceta (Which is officially the canon entry for Ys IV).  Here is our official review of the PSP remake of Ys III, Ys: Oath in Felghana!

Story

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The story of Oath in Felghana takes place 3 years after the events of Ys I & II Chronicles.  Dogi has become an adventuring companion for Adol Christin since their first encounter in the first game of the series.  The game starts out with them making port in Dogi’s homeland, the country of Felghana.  Upon making landfall, though, they have found that Felghana has been overrun by demonic monsters.

Upon reaching Dogi’s home town and rescuing some of the town’s people trapped in a Mine, they start uncovering a plot within the country’s royalty and a plot to uncover magical power that could wipe out the entire world.  Racing against time to protect the town and preventing the power’s misuse, Adol Is sent all over Felghana to uncover the mysteries of ancient Felghana and the mythology around it.

The story of Oath in Felghana is much more involved than Ys I and II.  While the game isn’t as long as games like Ys Seven or Memories of Celceta, it’s a lot more robust with character development and plot details than the previous two games.  It also adopted the visual novel type of scenes, which I and II lacked, but Seven and Celceta had.

Gameplay

As with all of the other games in the series, Oath in Felghana is an Action RPG.  You will be spending the majority of the game trekking your way through dungeons and fighting off enemies in real-time.  To do this, you’ll be using your sword as well as magic and other items you find as you go through each dungeon and find new ways to progress.

Unlike the original version of Ys III, Oath in Felghana uses an engine more similar to that of Ys VI: Ark of Naphishtim.  Because of this, the game isn’t a 2D game in dungeons, but has much more of a 3D feel for exploration and combat.  Each dungeon has sections that have 3D areas, but some also progress in a 2.5D sense, where everything is 3D, but many platforms and progression do so in a side-scrolling manner.

As you play the game, you’ll have a central hub of the town of Redmont, housing most of the NPCs for story material as well as shops for weapon upgrades and items.  Whenever you’re not in Redmont, you will be taking one of various paths to get to the game’s five dungeons to fight off enemies, fight bosses, and progress the story to the next section.

The dungeons progress in much the same way as they do in Ys I & II.  When you’re traveling through dungeons, your goal is to find key items, normally protected by a boss, that enable you to bypass obstacles.  These items could be boots that let you walk on ice or magic that lets you fly a short distance to cross large gaps.  While it can be easy to get lost in some dungeons, the paths are fairly straightforward for the majority of the game, not requiring a substantial amount of backtracking.

The gameplay and combat itself is like a mixture between Ys I & II Chronicles and Ys Seven.  First of all, the pacing is very quick, faster than that of Ys Seven.  While there is no party system, the combat removed the Bump System and has more of a hack-n-slash feel similar to the combo attacks from Ys Seven.  You can do several hits per combo with you sword, and the game also adds jumping to enable aerial combat.  One thing of note is that the PSP version of Oath in Felghana is the only one to introduce an enhanced Boost Gauge.  The Boost Gauge is something you can activate once you earn enough damage to and from enemies to increase your power.  The enhanced Boost Gauge, however, that lasts longer and has HP regeneration is exclusive to the PSP version of the game.

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Leveling Up and item progression and use are very similar to Ys I & II, with finding items and you’re level ups once you fight enough enemies.  The menus are very reminiscent of that of Ys II and, while those games didn’t have weapon and armor upgrading like this game does, much of the progression outside of combat feels very similar to that of the previous games.

Boss fights are also a big part of the game.  Oath in Felghana brings Bosses to a level of immersion with cinematic entrances as well as the difficulty involved in fighting them off.  While most of the bosses in the other Ys games available on the Vita are fairly simplistic with bosses, this game makes the bosses very difficult.  If you’re on the Normal Difficulty, you’re likely to run into problems from the very first boss fight you come across.

The big thing is that the bosses have attack patterns that you’re forced to learn.  Going into a boss fight without knowing their attack pattern and how to dodge their assault will lead you to an early death.  A boss can go from painfully hard to very easy once you learn their patterns.  However, if you have trouble several times in a row, the game will offer you to lower the difficulty level of the boss.  This doesn’t actually make the boss any weaker or you any stronger, but it lets the Boost gauge regenerate on its own, allowing for more boosts during the fight.  The bosses are still hard, even with this active.

Oath in Felghana isn’t an incredibly long RPG, but it does prove to be longer than its predecessors.  If you’re used to the combat and progression of the series, you can beat the game in about 10-15 hours, depending on how much time you spend on side-quests.  All in all, though, it’s not that long for an RPG.

Controls

While it definitely isn’t as simple as Chronicles, it’s not hard to learn the control scheme for Oath in Felghana.  You won’t be using every button on the system for it, though, just like the PSP didn’t use all of its buttons.  There won’t be a need for mapping buttons to the touch screen.  There are also no camera options, so you won’t need to map camera controls to the Right Analog Stick.

Controlling Adol is done with either the D-Pad or the Analog Stick, whether you’re in town or in a dungeon.  The situation may depend on what you wish to use.  I was most comfortable using the Analog, but certain platforming sections is better suited for the precision of the D-Pad.  The rest of the game is with the face buttons and Analog Sticks.  The L and R triggers could be used as well.

The triggers are used to switch which magic and item you’re equipped with.  This can also be done with the L2 and R2 buttons, if you’re playing the game on a PlayStation TV.  Combat is done with the face buttons.  X is used to slash with your sword and Square is used to attack with your currently-equipped magic (if you have enough MP.  If not, you have to wait for it to recharge).  Triangle is used to activate the Boost gauge, and Circle is used to jump.

Most of the scheme is easy to use, unless you want to charge magic and jump at the same time (which you do have to do a few times).  Holding Square and pressing Circle is extremely awkward to be able to do and requires more of a claw-type control use.  While most of the controls are easy, those are very awkward and hard to pull off.

Presentation

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As far as the visuals are concerned, the game still looks good.  However, the transition from PSP to the PS Vita and PlayStation TV doesn’t go as smoothly as it did for Chronicles.  Since this is a 3D game similar to Ys Seven, there are some jagged edges around many of the environment models.  The character models are far enough away from the camera that they still look smooth and clear, but many environments do look degraded on the Vita’s screen and the PSTV.

The way the game plays is very similar.  Everything is fast-paced, and the game never loses frames during those fast-paced actions.  The Load Times rarely take more than a few seconds to go through and the gameplay runs very smooth.  All in all, the game ran well on the PSP and runs just as well on the Vita.

Summary

Ys: Oath in Felghana is: Great
Ys III came back to the gaming world as Oath in Felghana on the PC as well as the PSP in style.  On the downside, the game has some awkward control combinations and the presentation was degraded on the transition to the Vita.  However, this is the version with the most content and offers a lot of fun and fast battles.  Any Action RPG or Ys fan should definitely give it a try. 

8/10

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