Ys Origin

Nihon Falcom is a relatively-small-staffed developer of RPG series such as The Legend of Heroes and Ys, with many entries, particularly in the latter pantheon, not seeing the light of day in North America, although after the turn of millennium, they would get a chance outside Japan thanks to the efforts of localization teams such as XSEED. Among the titles they localized was Ys Origin, the franchise’s sole prequel thus far, for the PC, with DotEmu over a decade later handling ports to the PlayStation 4 and Vita, the latter which this review covers.

When starting a new game, the player has an initial choice of one or two playable characters: Yunica Tovah, a melee weapon user, and Hugo Fact, a magician who attacks with lasers from his staff and his Eyes of Fact. When finishing their storylines, the player unlocks a tertiary character codenamed The Claw, with all protagonists having their own unique action playstyles, keeping the game from becoming too repetitive. Falcom definitely doesn’t disappoint in the gameplay department, and aside from the rare graphical slowdown, this element helps the port more than hurts.

While Ys Origin lacks in-game maps, the prequel is generally linear enough to where they’re not necessary, and should the player find himself or herself lost, they can use the Lila Shell to communicate with characters at the tower’s base to get hints on how to proceed (although this feature is absence in The Claw’s side of the story, but it’s not an issue). While the game has fixed save points unlike most other Ys titles, the player can use an item to teleport instantly to them to record their progress, and they’re fairly spaced. The port did crash at one point during a boss fight in this reviewer’s experience, although updating the game seemed to rectify things. Overall, the game interfaces well with the player.

The prequel perhaps has the best story of the franchise, taking place seven centuries before the events of the first numbered entry, with the three characters having reasonable development and backstory, although given that each goes through exactly the same Darm Tower, their plotlines don’t always cohesively intertwine. The translation definitely helps, with mature language, although there are a few minor errors. Ultimately, the narrative is very much a reason to play the game.

The Falcom sound team, as always, does a nice job with the music, in spite of some silent areas, and the sound effects don’t disappoint.

Visually is Ys Origin perhaps at its weakest, with some of the texturing of the environments looking blurry and pixilated, the sprites seeming so as well at times, alongside occasional graphical slowdown during some bosses, though the character art and enemy designs look nice.

Finally, each character’s storyline lasts about five hours, with plenty of lasting appeal with multiple difficulty settings, time attack modes, and trophies.

Overall, Ys Origin is an enjoyable prequel to its series, and shines with regards to its gameplay, control, storyline, and aurals, the only real negative being the graphics, although they definitely have their share of redeeming aspects. DotEmu very well adapted the game for the PlayStation Vita, and Origin consequentially serves as an excellent diving board into the series, and worthwhile experience for those that have yet to play it.

The Good:
+Excellent gameplay and control.
+Great storylines.
+Superb sound.

The Bad:
-Same Tower for each character.
-Save points have been, and always will be, a dated concept.
-Some graphical slowdown.

The Bottom Line:
A great port.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Mechanics: 9/10
Controls: 8/10
Story: 9/10
Localization: 9/10
Music/Sound: 9/10
Graphics: 7/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Adjustable
Playing Time: 12-24 Hours

Overall: 9/10

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