Ys: The Oath in Felghana

Many video game series have at least one installment that gamers consider their black sheep, for instance, the second installment of Nintendo's Zelda series, given its side-scrolling gameplay instead of the top-down gameplay other installments contain. The third installment of Falcom's Ys series also featured side-scrolling instead of top-down gameplay, consequentially earning its position as the franchise's black sheep, although in 2005, Falcom developed a remake of the game entitled Ys: The Oath in Felghana for the PC, later ported to the PlayStation Portable half a decade later. Despite the original's place as the black sheep, the remake just might be the best installment of Ys to date.

As in other Ys games, Felghana contains action-oriented gameplay, with protagonist Adol Christin able to hack away at enemies with his sword, use three different MP-consuming magic spells (with MP gradually recovering), jump, and go into a limit mode that briefly increases his attack power, and, later in the game, gradually heals his lost HP. When defeated, enemies drop things like temporary power-ups and healing items, which, aside from the aforementioned limit mode, is the only way to recover lost HP. Given the lack of healing, bosses can be tricky, even on the easiest difficulty, with the player needing to carefully track their patterns, and, on the rare occasion, exploit their weaknesses with magic. Despite this, combat in Felghana remains fast and enjoyable.

Controls are just as solid, with an easy menu system, decent direction on how to advance the main plotline, easy shopping for new items, and so forth. Granted, dungeons lack automaps, and some jumps in the dungeons can be tricky at times, but Felghana otherwise interfaces well with the player.

The story is decent for a short game, with a sense of conflict throughout and some nice twists, and alongside a solid translation by XSEED, the plot ranks among the game's high points.

As with other installments of Ys, Felghana contains a solid soundtrack with plenty of tracks that fit the game's various moods, such as the energetic mineshaft theme. The graphics are solid as well, with decent, well-animated character and monster sprites, and nice-looking scenery, despite some rough textures at times. Still, Felghana both looks and sounds superb.

Finally, finishing the game takes a little less than ten hours, with a New Game+ and multiple difficulty levels adding significant replayability. Ultimately, Ys: The Oath in Felghana is a short yet sweet RPG, with just about all its aspects being solid, sure to please newcomers and fans of the series alike, and proves that games don't have to be lengthy to be any good.

The Good:
+Simple, fast gameplay.
+Tight control.
+Great translation and story.
+Excellent music and graphics.

The Bad:
-No healing.
-Some tricky jumps.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation Portable
Game Mechanics: 9/10
Controls: 9/10
Story: 9/10
Music/Sound: 10/10
Graphics: 9/10
Localization: 10/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Playing Time: Less than 10 Hours

Overall: 9.5/10

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