Ys is a long running action RPG series from Japanese developer Nihon Falcom. It has an extensive history of games released on a variety of platforms including Windows PC, PSP, PS Vita and PS4. It is one of the more prolific action RPG series in Japan that continues to get made today and has a lengthy legacy of games behind it.
Ys Origin is essentially a prologue to the main story of the series and it also serves as a backstory of the creation of the world in Ys. It was originally released for Windows PC and then later localized and released for Steam by publisher XSEED Games. The game was announced for PS4 and PS Vita at PSX 2016, where it was revealed to be ported by DotEmu. So the question that remains for this re-release of Ys Origin is mostly regarding the status of the port.
While the PS4 version of the game has been released on time, the PS Vita version is delayed until later in May. I was reviewing the game on PS4 so this wasn’t really a concern for me, however for those who are waiting for the PS Vita version, they should be happy to know that the PS4 verison is cross-buy compatible with the PS Vita version meaning if you purchase it now on PS4, you will be able to play it later on your PS Vita once it releases this May.
If you are a Ys fan who has played the past games in the series, the prologue will feel different because unlike the main games, there is no Adol Christin as protagonist here. Instead, the players have the choice to control two different new characters (another is unlocked later), Yunica Tovah and Hugo Fact. Both of these character have their own distinctive play styles which adds some replay value to the game.
Yunica is specialized in close quarter combat and can dish out a large set of damage but at the expense of putting herself in danger, while Hugo is able to utilize magic that allows him to attack the enemy from a distance. This changes the strategy for the game dramatically and works well for each of the character. I preferred playing as Yunica since the game felt easy enough with her, however little did I know, it wasn’t going to be easy forever.
This brings us to the difficulty of the game, which seems to be normal for the most part except the boss fights can be tough and will require preparation before attempting them. Thankfully the game isn’t as brutal as to not offer save points so you will have plenty of chance to save before a boss fight in case you are stuck, and there is always the option of backtracking to gain levels or items, that might help with the boss fight.
Since the entire game is set in the Demon Tower, exploration is limited and there is no world map. Instead, we have to solve some dungeon puzzles and make our way from tough boss fights so that we can reach the top of the tower. The core geometry and design of each of the dungeons presented in the tower remains the same, the only variation that does happen is with the different characters.
This might sound negative but the gameplay loop can actually end up pretty addicting here. To add further incentive for a replay, the game rewards the player with a new character once they end the story of Yunica and Hugo. While I won’t go into details about the identity of this new character, it adds more to the story and nicely fills in some of the gaps in the plot that are left unattended. If you care enough to play through the whole game and climb the demon tower again with this character, you might be rewarded with a different ending and a new secret boss fight.
The quality of the port seems serviceable at best as the game supports wide screen, but it is hard to shake the feeling that it appears dated. The animated cut scenes that can be seen show artifacts that appear to be a case of upscaling from a lower resolution. Since this was the case with the PC version as well, it is hard to fault the developer here. Unfortunately this port is not without its flaws and they are mainly related to the audio implementation which can bug out at times. It can play the wrong music or stop music altogether during a boss fight. Hopefully this issue can be fixed in a future update.
If you are looking for a good old-school action RPG and have some money to spare, I recommend to give Ys Origin a try. It is a solid action RPG that is a bit too old-school but still stands firmly in the modern age. It is also a nice break from the main series and helps in fleshing out some of the backstory in the world of Ys.
Ys Origin Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Ys Origin is a Japanese action role-playing game developed and published by Nihon Falcom for Microsoft Windows in 2006.
Ys Origin gives us a chance to experience the prologue of the series. As a re-release, it doesn't really offer new content and unfortunately isn't a flawless conversion either.