Ys Origin
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There are many Japanese RPGs that will likely never see English versions in the near future; many of Namco’s Tales of games come to mind. Among these titles is Nihon Falcom’s Ys Origin, which saw its Japanese release back in 2006, with the main reason for its remaining in Japan likely being the lack of a real foreign market for PC JRPGs. However, roughly six years later, XSEED Games, having partnered with Falcom to bring many of their titles, such as many Ys games and the Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky trilogy to North America, released Ys Origin on Steam at the end of May. Ys Origin proves to be one of the best Ys games and PC JRPGs, not to mention one of the best JRPGs period, much like Ys: The Oath in Felghana.

Upon starting a new game, the player chooses one of two characters to play: Yunica Tovah, or Hugo Fact. There is a third character codenamed The Claw, although the player must first complete the game with one of the initial two characters in order to unlock the third. Each character has a unique style of combat, for instance, with Yunica’s melee skills and Hugo’s ranged magical attacks, with the game mechanics largely imitating those of Ys: The Oath in Felghana, with no healing items and the player receiving temporary status boosts, occasional healing herbs, and Skill Point-providing crystals from defeating enemies.

Typically, Ys games have allowed the player to save their game anywhere, although Origin breaks from this tradition with goddess statues that both allow the player to save their progress and allow them to upgrade their character with one of numerous upgrades by expending Skill Points. Given the lack of healing items, the game can undoubtedly be intimidating to play on higher difficulty levels, with bosses requiring some kind of skill to defeat especially on harder settings, although the battle system still works decently on the easier difficulties, with the only real flaw being the tedium of constantly needing to collect scattered Skill Point crystals and other items dropped by enemies, when the game could have easily provided them automatically.

The game’s control scheme is largely solid, with the only real flaw being the lack of in-game maps, although the game has a general linear structure that largely prevents the player from getting lost, and if the player wants to re-explore previous areas, the player may teleport instantly between goddess statues. Aside from the lack of automaps , the ditching of the series’ trademark save-anywhere feature, and the repetition of the same levels of the Darm Tower with each character, interaction helps Ys Origin more than hurts.

The story also helps the game far more than hurts, with Origin taking place seven centuries before the events of the main Ys games that star Adol Christin, and for once doesn’t star the franchise’s trademark redheaded protagonist. The game largely excels as a prequel, with the player as mentioned able to play three different characters that have their own storylines, with the player needing to beat them all to view the true ending. The localization is solid in spite of some very minor errors, and ultimately, the story is a boon to the game.

The soundtrack is largely a pleasure to hear, with plenty of solid tracks aside from one recycled track from the main Ys games, although the sound effects are decent. The graphics also look nice, with occasional FMVs and anime cutscenes, and the main graphics being good as well, although the character sprites rarely show emotion like the anime portraits during cutscenes. Ultimately, a superb-sounding and looking game.

Finally, each character’s quest takes somewhere from five to ten hours to complete, for a total playtime of around fifteen-plus hours, although unlocking every achievement the game offers can naturally take longer, and provides excellent replay value. Ultimately, Ys Origin is largely what an action RPG should be, with just about all its aspects being solid such as combat, control, story, music, and graphics. It does have some minor flaws such as no in-game maps and a bit of repetition with each character’s quest, although fans of Nihon Falcom and the Ys series in general will likely find the game to be the RPG equivalent of Shangri-La.

The Good:
+Solid hack-and-slash gameplay and control.
+Great story with three perspectives and solid localization.
+Great music and graphics.
+Plenty of lasting appeal.

The Bad:
-Can be repetitive.
-No dungeon maps.

The Bottom Line:
One of the best Ys games and PC JRPGs.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PC
Game Mechanics: 9/10
Controls: 8/10
Story: 10/10
Music/Sound: 9/10
Graphics: 9/10
Localization: 9/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Variable
Playing Time: 15+ Hours

Overall: 9.5/10

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