Review by Bkstunt_31
Discover Ys' history... inside a tower?
Playing through Ys Origin just reminds me how BIG of a gap the Eastern and Western worlds have in game releases. I mean, for something as niche as the YS series is if you don't ACTIVELY follow every bit of news about it an ENTIRE GAME can come and go and you'll have no idea!
And that was the case with me and Ys Origin, since it was released in late 2006 in Japan and just now made its way over to America through XSEED and STEAM in mid 2012, and it was only recently that I found out about it! An entirely new YS game flew completely under my radar for SIX years. How embarrassing! Well, to help counter-act my embarrassment I've gone and played through the game TWICE and can now sit here and tell you exactly what to expect out of it if you're thinking about picking it up yourself.
Ys Origin is a VERY uncommon Ys game in that it DOES NOT star Adol Christen. That fact alone is shocking, as Adol has been in EVERY MAJOR Ys game up until this one. It's not TOO shocking though, given the whole "Ys Origin" title. As you may have guessed, this game is a prequel to Ys I and II but takes place hundreds of years prior to those two games (which most fans just consider one single adventure, given how short Ys I is).
As you may know, Ys was besieged by demons to the point where the goddesses used the black pearl to raise the land high into the skies to stop the fighting with the demons building a giant tower in pursuit. However one day the inhabitants of Ys discover the twin goddesses just... disappeared down into the world below, taking the black pearl with them and telling NO ONE where they went. This caused the people to get together and send down a team of their best wizards and warriors to go find the goddesses and make sure they are OK, and then lead them back to Ys. At the start of the game you'll pick whether you want to be a young warrior named Yunica Tovah or a young magician named Hugo Fact.
The story as a whole is very original despite it's prequel status. Trust me: even if you know Ys 1 and 2 inside and out Ys Origin will have plenty of content and characters in it that will be brand new. The story has its fair share of twists and turns and will keep your attention until the end.
It MUST be pointed out that while you can pick either character and beat the game you have NOT truly FINISHED the game. Beating the game once unlocks another character to play through the game with and this new character will flesh out the story A TON. So much so that I feel it's important to add this paragraph to my review! Playing with this character is akin to playing out the "canon" version of the story and so it is basically required to play through and beat the game twice to truly see what the story of Ys Origin is all about.
The game play in Ys Origin is very similar to Falcom's last game: Ys: The Oath in Felghana. The game has an over-head 3D view to give you instant awareness of your surroundings. At heart the game is an action-RPG, so you'll be jamming on an attack button throughout the majority of the game. It's not THAT shallow though, as each of the stories protagonists will find and use special artifacts that give them special abilities. There are three artifacts in total and these abilities vary character to character. However they each use MP, a naturally regenerating resource, to prevent you from OVER using them...
The game is DEFINITELY very action-oriented, which makes it a blast to play. The action is highlighted by the fact that enemies often drop potions to increase your statistics temporarily as well as herbs to heal you up on the fly. Like most action-RPG's you'll be finding armor (chest and feet pieces) as you play as well as various accessories and gems to upgrade your magic abilities but unlike most RPG's you're not going to be visiting with any towns or collecting money whatsoever (since you'll be climbing that tower I spoke of earlier for the game's ENTIRETY). Instead, as you kill monsters you will acquire SP which you can then use at any of the various goddess towers in the game (save points) and spend. By spending SP you can buff up your armor, increase item drop rates, increase your characters resistances and buff yourself up in all sorts of ways.
In the end with the game's non-stop action Ys Origin is just a blast to play. The items drops help keep the action going and the various skills just make it better. Many enemies are weak against certain skills which helps give some variety to the action but doesn't drag it down due to specific buttons designed to quickly switch between your skills. If you're a fan of action-RPG's, you'll enjoy the game play in Ys Origin.
The graphics in the game are pretty standard. If you've played even a few Japanese RPG's in the past you'll likely have seen many games with similar graphical styles before. That's not a bad thing though, as everything here is crisp and sharp. You'll be ascending the tower from the ground floor to the top, and each section of the tower has it's own themes and visual style, from the bland old-tower to cooler zones like the "Flooded Prison" and the "Silent Sands". Character designs are especially impressive in this game given how many combat-oriented characters there are. The biggest treat by far is the gigantic bosses. Those fights are just plain FUN and a lot of it is because of the boss designs and how BIG they are (and how you can often CLIMB them).
The biggest FLAW with the graphics in the game is how extremely RE-USED the locations are. Each of the three characters you can play with will climb the SAME tower, and fight the SAME enemies, giving you a HUGE "Haven't I already done this?" feeling on subsequent play-throughs. Sure, you'll often get new dialog and you can change up some difficulty options but it's still the same old tower.
Like a lot of the newer Ys soundtracks (I just finished Ys: The Oath in Felghana), Ys Origins is VERY up-beat. It incorporates a lot of electric guitar and violins throughout and much like The Oath in Felghana it a LOT of these tracks remind me of the Megaman X series. If you want some samples of the BEST this soundtrack has to offer, go listen to "Bond of Companions", "Scars of the Divine Wing" and "Termination" ("Termination" is actually one song many people who DO play Ys Origin may not even here, as it's the track that plays when fighting the TRUE Final Boss). Sound effects in the game are pretty standard and sound good. The game will also make you read a ton (*gasp*!) as it has no voice acting in it.
Given that the game has three character to play through with multiple difficulty settings one could easily say Ys Origin has great re-playability (provided that you don't mind the repeated environment). Each play-through (on an easier difficulty setting, anyway) will likely only take you 6-8 hours though, but as I said before to get the FULL STORY of the game you have to beat it with at least TWO characters (doubling your playtime, undoubtedly). The game also has a time attack mode which lets you battle the game's fantastic bosses (and unlock a familiar face to use in time attack mode).
Overall, Ys Origin is still a fantastic action RPG. Personally, I think it isn't quite as good as the previous Ys game (Ys: The Oath in Felghana, which is VERY similar to Origin) but it's still a solid game. It is PACKED with re-playability options if you don't mind the repeated environments, but I can see how playing with multiple characters just to see the entire story would turn some people off. Either way, now you know what to expect out of this game. Have fun and keep playing!
Product Release: Ys Origin (US, 05/31/12)
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