Ys: The Oath in Felghana
Simple but Addicting
Story: The story Ys The Oath in Felghana follows Adol and Dogi as they adventure in Dogi's homeland. The game quickly turns dark with an evil Count McGuire ruling the area with an iron fist and taxing the populous into poverty, but it appears he is also hatching a dark plot involving an ancient power that was sealed away and best left forgotten.
Characters: The game features a menagerie of characters that work well together. I actually became attached to several members of the cast and cared about what happened to them.
Gameplay: The game is rather simplistic in its approach to combat with the x button representing a basic sword attack and the square button being used for magical attacks. The game also allows for a up stroke and down stroke attack as well. The game also offers a boost feature which can be executed by using the triangle button if your boost bar is filled. The game also offers several platforming sections as well and these are rather well done as well.
Sound: This game is a joy to listen to. The soundtrack for this game is awesome for lack of a better term and the voice acting is well done as well.
Graphics: The game makes use of 2D sprite images inside of a 3D environment. The game is rather visually pleasing though I did have issues with a few of the smaller enemies being nearly invisible on the screen.
Level Design: Most of the areas are of a rather decent size and offer a few optional areas to explore to gather additional equipment, accessories, and stores of raval ore you can use to upgrade your equipment.
Level Design: 9
Ys: Oath in Felghana Impressions
As I've said in other reviews/first impressions I have given, I have a mild (alright heavy) obsession with RPG games. I have an extra special love for handheld RPGs as they allow me to stomach some of my wife's less than desirable television shows while being in the same room (I'm looking at you Bridezilla's). So, when I found out a new Ys game was coming to the PSP, there really wasn't any option of me not getting this.
Ys (pronounced eace as in Peace) is a series that has been going on for some time. All I know of the previous iterations are that they had a nice following of fans. I'm a late comer to the series with Ys 7 being my first foray into the red headed wonders world. The story of Ys games usually revolve around a voiceless main character named Adol Christian with his fiery red hair and ability to woo the ladies and his heterosexual life partner Dogi the strongman with blue hair. Usually there is some evil to conquer and in this game it's no different. The game begins with the duo returning to Dogi's homeland where he quickly finds an old friend in danger. Adol rescues the girl and the two are escorted back to Dogi's home village. After some catching up, Dogi heads off into the mountains to find his former master while Adol is left to wander around. It doesn't take long for things to spiral out of control as word of a corrupt leader searching for mysterious artifacts in the mines catches Adol's ears and he is trust into a grand adventure to save the town and the world from the evil that lurks in the surrounding areas. Sounds epic doesn't it? It is, but it's also standard fare. The way this game differentiates from the others is through the excellent voice acting.
That's right, there's voices. And they are pretty good too. The story is told from a narrators point of view describing the life and times of Adol and Dogi. Since Adol doesn't have a voice actor, the narrator describes what he is saying to people. Dogi does have a voice actor and it's pretty spot on to what I'd thing Dogi would sound like. All of the other main characters in the game also have spoken lines and I found myself thoroughly enjoying them throughout the first couple hours of the game. When people speak, a portrait pops up on screen as they speak their lines. The portrait will change depending on mood and story while sprites in the background can be seen. You've seen it before, but Ys: The Oath in Felghan really hits it on the head and does a great job with it.
If you played Ys Seven like myself, you may find that this game is a little different. This game is actually based on Ys III from back in the day, so I'm guessing that may have had something to do with the choice, although it's most certainly not a bad one. You no longer walk around with two other companions receiving their help as you attack and move around the world. Adol wanders around by his lonesome and handles puzzles and enemies on his own. While navigating the world you will pick up different skills such as fireballs, a spinning sword trick, etc. These help in combat, but more importantly they help you get past puzzles and world obstacles that are strategically placed in areas. When you first come across these areas, you will have to make a mental note and return later when you have the proper means to get past it.
The combat in Ys is actually pretty fun. You are going to be spamming the X button a lot as that is how you attack. You attack in real time and for each press of X, you swing the sword. Hit X fast enough and you'll do some impressive moves. Square casts magic and O allows you to jump. That's something else about Ys, you can jump and it's a pivotal way to get around the world, especially after you acquire double jump. Triangle sets off a boost that increases power and some of your special moves. The combat is fast paced and very action oriented. You'll mow through most enemies with ease, but bosses, they are another story altogether.
The boss monsters in the game can vary between utterly easy and insanely tough. The first couple bosses were pretty darn tough too. I found myself dying multiple times and noticed something I haven't seen in many games. If you die a lot at a boss, there is an option to decrease the difficulty. This is awesome, especially for people who don't want to restart a game to change difficulties because they can't beat a boss. The difficulty is ever so slightly decreased and while the challenge still remains, you are given a slight edge over the competition. The bosses will truly test your ability to learn from the environment and the bosses cues to eliminate them. For instance, there is a group of enemies who get stronger the more of them you kill, so you need to damage them to the point where each is hurt a lot, then whipe them out one by one to stay alive. It's tricky, but fun to learn little secrets like this.
Something that I rarely talk about in games, but in Ys is fitting is the music. The music in Ys is awesome. You are given the option of three different versions of the music. The first, I believe, is from the PC release of the game back whenever it came out originally as Ys III. The second option is a more refined cut of that old PC version which I'm guessing was in another port of it? I didn't play the original so I'm not sure. The final is a completely new version of the songs done for the PSP game. It's a lot of fun to switch between them and fans of the original are going to eat this up. I'm sticking with the new version because it sounds best but for those of you who played the original and the songs may bring back memories of playing the game, it's there and waiting for you.
The Ys games are quickly becoming one of my favorite franchises on the PSP. I wish I had played the originals back when they were originally out but I missed them. I'm trying to make up for that now by playing every single Ys game I can get my hands on and I'm loving them all. Ys: The Oath in Felghana is a very well made game with a lot of love and attention to detail put forth by the devs. You can tell by playing the game that the developers really like making these games. This isn't a game only RPG fans will like. Actions fans will like it as well due to the heavy combat and metroid-esque upgrade system in dungeons and the world. The game is supposed to be around 10-12 hours or so but for a PSP game, that's actually a decent length. I'm looking forward to completing the game and will keep my eye out for any other Ys releases coming to consoles or handhelds in the future.
Classic Old-School Ys
Falcom did an excellent job reimagining this title. The gameplay will have players challenged to their limit depending on the difficulty level. As usual, the Falcom Sound Team is at its best with this title, and Xseed's great localization makes this a must buy. You can also buy the unvoiced version on Steam.