Game: Ys Origin
Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and Microsoft Windows
Rating: T for Teen
Video games of today are fantastic, aren’t they? We have been spoiled by a vast variety of genres, astounding graphics, talented voice actors, and gripping narratives. Despite all of these choices and high-quality production value, I must admit, I have a somewhat guilty longing—a yearning for an older, simpler time when storylines were told through text boxes and character models were mere 3D sprites. This could be due to nostalgia, or a desire to play a classification of game that no longer exists. Whatever the reason, developer Nihon Falcom has the perfect answer to my wistful craving with their action RolePlaying Game (RPG), Ys Origin.
TheStory of Ys
The trademark of a respectable RGP is often—ironically—a long-winded and fantastical plotline; Ys Origin is no exception. In this prequel to the long running series, demons have infested a peaceful land once ruled by twin Goddesses, causing mass destruction and chaos. In an attempt to escape the horrors, the people of Ys take refuge in a sacred temple. Once inside, the temple is elevated into the sky by the Goddesses and out of the demons’ reach. But soon that’s not even enough. The demons follow the people into the sky, bringing the war to the heavens.
Thankfully hope comes in form of the game’s three playable heroes— one of whom is unlockable upon the game’s completion—each with their own tailored story and gameplay style. Will you use swift melee attacks or powerful, long-range magic? While the overall story is somewhat forgettable, the characters themselves shine with endearing charm, and the addition of three separate narratives greatly enhances replay value.
Three Ways to Play
At first glance, one may presume Ys Origin is a turn-based RPG—à la the Final Fantasy series—due to its archaic look and similarities to titles of that ilk. However, looks can be deceiving. The action takes place in real time, meaning you must attack, dodge, jump, and perform special moves in quick succession in order to overcome the enemy. The aforementioned moveset is extremely satisfying to execute. Holding and then releasing the circle button unleashes a devastating attack, discharging both a spectacular light-show onscreen and a vibration throughout your controller. This mishmash allows you to feel the assault’s full impact. Rumble function is a common occurrence in video games, yet the collective of satisfying feedback and the enemy cracking into pieces upon death creates a truly fulfilling experience.
Conquest in battle isn’t Ys Origin’s only obstacle to overcome, there are also puzzles to solve and brief platforming sections to navigate. While the puzzles feel like mere setbacks in your journey, the segments requiring you to leap from platform to platform can be irritating, mostly on account of the bird’s-eye camera angle. It can occasionally be difficult to determine exactly which plain your little sprite is standing on, which can cause you to miss your destination by a slight margin.
What’s Old is New Again
Playing Ys Origin felt like greeting an old friend after an extended absence. As a boy growing up in the late 90s and early 2000s, I played many RPGs like Ys Origin: top down view, colorful sprites, puzzles to resolve, and dungeons to explore. These are all things that were commonplace at the time, yet they could conceivably be unrecognizable to today’s audiences. In an effort to make the vintage fresh again, developer Nihon Falcom has blended 2D characters with 3D environments. The classic, and rather cute, figures look slightly out of place within the obtruding backdrops, nevertheless, the contrasting effects allow for some striking stereoscopic scenery to creep over the horizon.
Ys Origin is undoubtedly a throwback to a specific time in gaming history, one I personally look back on favorably. Fans of old-school franchises such as Zelda and Alundra will feel right at home here, but younger gamers unfamiliar with this visual and narrative style could find the experience to be crude. Regardless of its aged characteristics, the combat system serves as the game’s backbone, a constant all can enjoy irrespective of age.