Review: Ys Origin – PS Vita (8.5/10)

Platform: PS VitaGenre: Action RPGDeveloper: DotEmu
Publisher: DotEmu DotEmu
Release Date: May 30, 2017 May 30, 2017
Price:$19.99 USD / $26.99 CAD£15.99 / €19.99 / $29.95 AUD
File size:1,387 MB1,369 MB patch (Version 1.02)
English Physical Release (Asia):Buy on Play-Asia.com
Review by 2 Old 4 Gaming

My first thoughts when I started playing Ys Origin were: this game’s graphics look pretty bad and there was too much text and time spent at the beginning on conversations and exposition. I’ve never played an Ys game before so I didn’t have an early investment in the story. Also from seeing trailers for Ys VIII, I was disappointed that the game looked so old-school as if it were a game from the original Playstation. After the initial 10 minutes of talking and tutorial, I was finally let loose on the game and instantly my opinion changed. Ys Origin is a game where the gameplay is so good that graphics stopped mattering to me.

Story

Ys Origin PS Vita

The game starts off telling you that the world of Ys has become overrun by demons. To protect the people of Ys, the two goddesses, Reah and Feena, raised part of the land to the sky where it floated for years. In order to reach the people of Ys, the demons began erecting a massive tower – the Devil’s Tower. One night, the goddesses mysteriously disappeared. A team of warriors is sent to the surface to locate them. The goddesses had gone to the Devil’s Tower and the warriors entered the Tower to find them and return them to their floating city.

There are three protagonists in the game with their own take on the story. Yunica is an optimistic, novice warrior that is desperate to prove herself, Hugo is calm and intelligent but occasionally cold and after you complete the game with Yunica and Hugo you can play as the mysterious Claw. I enjoyed playing with and getting to know the different characters although it did feel repetitive playing Yunica and Hugo’s stories back to back.

Ys Origin PS Vita

I played Yunica’s story first and really enjoyed it. She is a fun character to play as and seeing her determination shine through the text on the screen made me like her more. I was disappointed when I started Hugo’s story and realised it’s essentially the same story but with a different protagonist. The start of their stories are exactly the same as are most of the journey and bosses. There are some new twists with Hugo’s story but I was hoping for a completely different story with different bosses and that wasn’t the case.

Claw’s story is the most interesting of the three and is the only one that is canon to the Ys series. The bosses are still the same (although there is a new final boss), but there is more context to the actions of the characters and his perspective is far more interesting than the other two. I would have preferred to have his story unlocked from the beginning, because it felt like the developers are forcing players to play their game for over 20 hours before you can even start the “real” story.

Gameplay

Ys Origin PS Vita

Ys Origin is an action RPG although at times it feels like an old-school action 3D platformer. The protagonists are small sprites in the screen that can run, jump, attack and cast spells. Yunica attacks with an axe getting close to enemies, Hugo shoots magic lasers to attack from a distance and claw uses his… well claw. The game is very fast and fluid. Charging towards a group of enemies and throwing a fire spell at them while hitting them with your melee weapon is a lot of fun.

Since the basic controls are the same, I didn’t feel like the three protagonists were that different to play as. Attacking from a distance with Hugo did make him feel like the easiest of the three characters to play as but the game was generally fair in terms of difficulty provided you explore the levels properly. It was very easy to pick up and get to grips with the controls. This game feels in many ways like an old-school action game and it feels very natural to press X to jump and square to attack.

Ys Origin PS Vita

Each level is split up so that you travel through a couple of floors of enemies in the tower, search for the key and unlock the area with the boss before moving on to the next floor. There would be a story scene with some of the bosses, but the approach to the game did feel a bit formulaic at times. You can try and rush through each level, look for the key and move on but this would be a mistake.

You need to explore the tower and look for upgrade materials and new armour or you’ll eventually hit a wall like I did. I got to a point with the fourth boss where I was doing barely any damage and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I grinded to level up but I still couldn’t beat him. I looked online and realised I hadn’t been upgrading my weapon. I had been collecting the materials needed to upgrade my weapon but I hadn’t noticed how to do it. This wasn’t the game’s fault.

Ys Origin PS Vita

After the tutorial I was rushing to play the game that I didn’t speak to the NPCs and learn some of the basic systems of the game. It turned out I had enough of the material to level up my weapon three times and then the boss fight was no problem. I generally found the game’s difficulty fair playing on normal. Provided you explore the levels and find all the upgrade materials, it’s not too difficult the game. When I did occasionally die, I was returned to my last save point. I was impressed at how fast the load times were.

Another element of the game that impressed me was the teleport ability. You can teleport to any previous save point any time you want, even just before you are about to get hit and die. This isn’t a new feature to videogames of course, but there is some back tracking required in Ys Origin so I really appreciated having the ability to teleport around and save time. It felt like the game was respecting your time and not trying to force you to back track too far.

Ys Origin PS Vita

The boss fights were also really varied. Their attacks and weaknesses were all very different. Trying to figure out what worked and what doesn’t work felt like a good challenge. I did die a few times at each boss as I learned the best approach to beat them, but because the load times are so short and the gameplay was so fun, I didn’t mind much. I did find the game slowed down at times during boss fights when there was a lot of action on the screen but it didn’t ruin the game and for a couple of bosses it actually helped me to see and dodge incoming attacks!

Completing Yunica’s story took me around 14 hours, although I think it could be completed much faster as I spent the first few hours not realising I could teleport (again, my fault for not paying enough attention to NPC conversations). Once you finish Yunica’s story, the others are much faster as you already know and understand the game and the enemies. Playing all the scenarios on normal will provide around 30 hours of play time.

Graphics

Ys Origin PS Vita

As I mentioned, the graphics did bother me at first. The pixel sprites aren’t very clear and it looks like a game that could have been made for the PlayStation One. The character designs during dialog scenes were nicely detailed and gave them more personality as they spoke.

Some of the backgrounds look impressive like looking out at the moonlit sky and there is a decent amount of variety in the art of the tower’s floors, with each area having its own style, like a fire area, an area of shining mirrors or a swamp area. Don’t let the screenshots put you off. They don’t do justice to the game. As I played the game, I got used to the art style and I was fine with it by the end of the game.

Music & Sound

There is no voice acting in the game which is a shame. At times I felt myself getting bored with the long reading scenes. I would have preferred to have some voices. The music invoked the feeling of going on a fantasy adventure. I enjoyed it and I also enjoyed the smart use of music and how the game went silent at important story moments.

Conclusion

Ys Origin may not be the best looking PS Vita game or even the best looking Ys game but it is so much fun to play. Despite not having played a previous Ys game, the story is easy to follow and indeed makes the idea of playing the other Ys games more appealing. It can feel repetitive playing all three scenarios back-to-back so taking a break between them is advised. Interesting characters, easy to pick up gameplay and fast and fun action make Ys Origin an easy game to recommend.

Ys Origin Video Review:

 

The review was written and provided by 2 Old 4 Gaming. All screenshots are from the PS Vita version. The review is based on a review copy which was provided by the publisher.

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