[PlayStation 4] Ys Origin Review

by Ceidz, Owner

Ys Origin (“Ys” is pronounced “eess”) is a prequel to the Ys franchise, the flagship series from Nihon Falcom. They are masters at creating JRPG, working on the beloved Trails in the Sky and Trails of Cold Steel series. Ys Origin released in Japan in 2006 and was ported to Steam for Western audiences in 2012. And now it made its way to the PlayStation 4. I really liked Ys: Memories of Celceta on the Vita, so I was very much looking forward to trying this one. Read our Ys: Origin review to learn more about this great game!

Following a devastating demonic invasion, the twin Goddesses use their magic to bring the inhabitants of legendary Ys safely into the sky. While the demons work to construct Devil’s Tower and reach the humans’ new abode, the Goddesses disappear. As a mighty warrior or a cunning mage, you must seek the Goddesses in Devil’s Tower. With your swordsmanship and spells, can you banish evil from the land of your ancestors?

Ys Origin – PS4 Launch trailer

As Ys Origin begins, you are greeted by the option to select one of two characters: Yunica, an axe and sword wielder (described as a great option for beginners), and Hugo, a powerful magic user. Their objective is the same: reach the top of a demonic tower to restore peace to the land of Ys. As they climb the tower floor by floor, they’ll face a ton of enemies, but also find friends that showcase the game’s rather light story

As soon as we begin wandering into the demonic tower, you’ll realize this is a very well designed Metroidvania: there are a lot of items to be retrieved as you progress and, if you missed one, you will be blocked at some point. Luckily the tower is divided into eight different sections (each containing its own theme) so we only need to backtrack a few floors at most to find any missing items.

I must also praise Nihon Falcom for the great level design in this game: each floor has been carefully crafted and offers a near-perfect exploration experience. If you see an unreachable chest, you can rest assured that you WILL be able to reach it before long! Another aspect I loved is how creative the bosses were: each one is “shielded” and figuring out how to affect it was a blast. There is a difficulty curve at each boss fight, but I noticed that grinding one or two levels before (which takes 15 minutes or so) makes a HUGE difference!

Each of the available main characters has different gameplay mechanics, so starting a new game will make the second run feel fresh. Your can the various powers you gain to the test so that you have better odds of survival. You have Wind, which allows you to spin enemies and hover between platforms; Thunder which stuns enemies and can also break fragile walls; and finally a Fire power which allows you to hit enemies with a very strong attack.

As for the game’s presentation, it begins with a cutscene that made me worry a bit since it is a direct port of the original CG introductory movie. It’s in a low resolution and runs at 16-or-so FPS. Oh, and it’s boxed in 4:3. But I’m here to report that only the CG are presented in such a low resolution and that the actual game runs in full 1080p and at 60FPS! The environments are all rendered in 3D, while every character and monster is a sprite – this gives the game a retro feel without sacrificing gameplay. The soundtrack was also great, and some tunes were catchy – but for me, the soundtrack for Memories of Celceta is better.

It’s a nitpick, but the only thing that remotely annoyed me in this game was the inability to pause during boss fights. You can pause freely during the normal sections of the game, but in a boss fight (and trust me, they are lengthy battles!), this option is completely removed. I hear some of you saying: “You can pause every PlayStation 4 game by going back to the PS Menu Hub,” to which I answer: No. You can’t do this in Ys Origin. Going to the PS Hub during gameplay does not stop the game – if you’re in a boss fight, you’ll come back from the PS Hub to a dead character.

Final Thoughts
I liked climbing the demonic tower in my playthrough and particularly loved the near-perfect level design and the solid gameplay. The bosses were creative and I liked figuring how to affect them. While the story wasn’t that great, the other aspects of this game are reason enough for me to highly recommend Ys Origin to every RPG lover looking for a great and to the point experience – for a normal run you’re looking at around 10-15 hours at most.

This Ys Origin review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by DotEmu.

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