Game Title: Ys Origin
Developer: Falcom, Dot Emu
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Download: 1.3 GB
Availability: Digital Download (Europe, North America), Retail (Coming Later 2017 from LRG and Play-Asia)
PSTV Support: No
The Ys series has quickly made its home on Sony’s handheld systems since the PSP era. Counting today’s review and the upcoming Ys VIII from NIS America, there are a total of 7 different games from the Ys series you can play on your PS Vita. In short, if you’re a Ys fan, there’s a lot here to be played.
I view the Ys series in a special light. Not only do I love the series, but Ys: Memories of Celceta was the first review I posted on this website way back in December 2013. Having new Ys games to review only makes the progress I’ve made since then more rewarding.
As such, here is my review of the PS Vita version of Ys Origin!
700 years before the events of Ys I & II, the world of Ys was invaded by a horde of demons. In order to escape the onslaught, the two Goddesses of Ys brought their Priests and Citizens into the Solomon Shrine and used their magic to raise it high into the sky, away from the rest of the world and the invading demons.
Some time later, the two Goddesses disappear from Solomon Shrine and a task force of Holy Knights and Priests descend to the land that used to be their home and venture into a massive tower the Demons have been using to try to reach Ys. The plot revolves around a young Knight Apprentice named Yunica Tovah and a Sorcerer by the name of Hugo Fact as they venture into the tower in search of their missing deities.
The plot of Ys Origin is much more in tune with recent games in that there’s a lot of story and lore shown. Origin really is here to set up the events of Ys I and II, but it also has a strong plot on its own, divided into 3 separate stories for each playable character. If you’re into Ys lore, there’s a lot to be learned.
Ys Origin is an Action RPG in the same vein as games like Ys: Oath in Felghana with a bit of The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky. You roam around dungeons, fighting off enemies in real-time, but the environments are more expanded and larger than they were in Felghana. Just imagine the graphical style of Trails in the Sky but with Oath’s gameplay.
When you go into the game, you play the story with one of 2 playable characters with a 3rd to be unlocked once the first 2 are cleared. Yunica has a melee playstyle, much like series protagonist, Adol Cristin. Hugo plays more of a ranged magic fighter and provides a very unique play style compared to what series fans are used to. Past the Story, you’ve also got Boss Rush, Arena Mode, and Time Attack Mode, but you need to beat the story with Yunica and Hugo in order to unlock these game modes.
Playing through the game is like fighting through a giant dungeon. Unlike previous games that have you exploring towns and huge worlds, the entire game takes place in the massive Demon Tower as you search for the Goddesses of Ys. Each area is a dungeon in and of itself and will have story events spawn as you progress up the tower as well as many puzzles and a Boss Fight to complete that section of the game. If you’ve ever played Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky 3, it’s essentially the same concept, but in the Ys series.
The main gist of things with progression are combat, puzzles, and upgrades. Combat is like it was in Oath. You have melee attacks as well as skills you can combo into. Skills can be used as a single attack or a charged attack and use up points, so you can’t just endlessly spam your favorite elemental skill over and over. You have to find combinations of fighting, dodging, and skills dependent on your current situation.
Puzzles are simple enough. Most puzzles are just a matter of finding a key to open a door, fighting off special enemies to unlock a chest that contains a key item for reaching the area’s boss, or using your new skills to affect and change the environment. The game showcases these features for you and it doesn’t take long to really get into the groove of how things progress.
Upgrades are the bigger focus, though. In the game, you can upgrade your weapon with special Ore found in treasure chests and can use any Save Point to upgrade other aspects of the game in the form of Blessings. These can do a lot of things from simple upgrades to increase armor effectiveness and SP gained from enemies to use for Blessings to resistances to terrain and status ailments or reducing MP usage with skills. There are a lot of upgrades to be had, and the weapon upgrades are absolutely crucial to being able to take on bosses.
That brings us to difficulty. Normal enemies are normally pretty manageable, but once you start finding Bosses, things get very difficult very quickly. As always in the series, bosses have patterns you need to learn, but a lot of bosses in Origin cannot be damaged until certain conditions are met and, even then, require specific skills to create those conditions. Even if you want a casual run on the Easy Difficulty, don’t expect bosses to actually be easy. The first one is, but the rest will undoubtedly give you loads of trouble until you actually learn their patterns and how to get around them.
As far as time goes, each run for each character will likely take you around 8-10 hours, depending on your difficulty setting. Across all 3 characters to see the whole story (especially considering the 3rd character is the real “canon” storyline), you can expect to spend at least 30 hours on this game. Past that, there’s Arena Mode, Time Attack, Boss Rush, and Leaderboards, plus a plethora of unlockable characters both for Arena and Story Mode to be unlocked after that. There’s a lot of content crammed into this game, despite each story run not lasting terribly long for an RPG.
The one thing I will say was a dislike with this game is that Ys Origin for PS4 and PS Vita is based on the original PC build. On Steam, the game was updated so you only needed to beat the game with a single character to unlock the 3rd, canon storyline. But on consoles, you have to beat both and seeing the same story but with a different character playing the MC role did seem a bit repetitive, despite their playstyles being drastically different.
First of all, no PlayStation TV Compatibility. I’ve spoken with the publishers. They said back in December they were going to inform the development team about making it compatible, and it’s still not compatible. It may become compatible in the future, but as of launch, it cannot be played on the PlayStation TV.
Controls are simple. The D-Pad and Left Analog Stick are used for moving around and the Right Stick doesn’t really do anything. The L and R triggers are used to cycle your current skill without having to go into the pause menu. Then, face buttons. X is used for jumping, Square is used for normal attacks, Triangle is used to activate your Boost/Burst Attacks, and Circle is used for activating or charging skills.
I don’t have any complaints here. Everything works well and the controls are explained very well as you progress and unlock new abilities.
Visually, the game looks good, but as the same time, they’re flawed. The graphics, themselves, do look just as nice as they do on PC, but I do have a couple nitpicks. First, the CG/Movie scenes are a tad on the blurry side, looking like they were just copy-pasted from the PC version onto the Vita version. Second, the text in the Save Menu is extremely tiny and hard to read. Whenever I check my save files for play time, it’s difficult to actually read what my playtime is.
Outside of this, there’ve been a lot of reports about the PS4 version having crashing and sound issues. I’ve spend a lot of time in the Vita version and have yet to encounter any crashing/freezing or sound issues. The sound never cuts out. The music stays on the full time, and the game has never crashed on me. I’m not sure if these have been fixed on PS4, but they are not present on the Vita.
Only thing about performance to note is that there are frame drops here and there like the PS4 version had. These are all localized to boss fights, most of them localized to cutscenes. But, there are a few boss attacks that will cause the frames to drop down below 30 fps and down in the low mid-20s for a few seconds before the attack ends and it comes back up to 30. It’s easy to work around, but it’s there.
In conclusion, Ys Origin is a fast-paced RPG full of lore with a lot of content crammed into the $20 price-tag. Although it isn’t perfect, from it being based on an old PC build, hard-to-see Save Menus, and some light frame drops during boss fights, it’s still a great little RPG for anyone interested in or a fan of the series.