Review: Ys: The Oath in Felghana
I’m fairly new to the Ys franchise, but it has actually been around for quite some time – with remakes and re-releases making up the bulk of the series catalog as of late. However, that isn’t always a bad thing. As evidenced by my play-through of Ys Seven a few months back, the franchise still has a lot to offer series vets and newcomers alike.
If you’ve played Ys Seven, there isn’t a whole lot that is different overall here – and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because the previous PSP release was a pretty sweet experience. The Oath in Felghana is a remake of a remake. More specifically, it is a remake of the PC version of Ys III. It follows the adventures of one Adol Christin and his friend, Dogi, as they travel the world in search of adventure and hot chicks to be saved. Typical RPG, right? Yeah, pretty much.
This time around, the two friends travel back to Dogi’s home region of Felghana a few years after the events from the first two games, to see what trouble they can get themselves into. Naturally, they discover an underlying evil that threatens to destroy everyone’s way of life and step in to fight it. Although, I’m not quite sure how Adol manages to never speak a line of dialog in the entire game. One of my pet peeves is a silent protagonist, I’ll have you know. Thankfully, not having him speak a word doesn’t detract much from the game and could possibly be a blessing in disguise.
The visuals are pretty solid for a PSP title, and it looks great on the small screen. I especially enjoyed the animations of the various abilities and attacks used in battles, as well as, of course, the anime-style cut scenes. I’m always a fan. The audio is passable, but there are some recycled tracks that kind of get tiring after a while. The voice work actually isn’t quite as solid as Ys: Seven, but it isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever heard when it comes to RPG voice-overs. What is most interesting is the best acting in the game comes from the one character who you would think would have the most high-pitched, whiny voice of them all – one of the main female protagonists.
The pacing of the story is great, even if the narrative itself isn’t all that enthralling. The over-the-top voice acting doesn’t help matters, but the game also doesn’t linger, tip-toeing around a plot point until the player wants to beat themselves over the head with their PSP. Instead, the game moves swiftly from one plot point to the next, carrying the narrative very well through the entire game. It never sits in one spot, which is actually a good thing in this instance, because focus is pretty solidly placed on the action and strategy of the battle system.
Playing this series for the first time not too long ago, I immediately enjoyed the focus on the action battle system. It’s deep and rewarding, but at the same time keeps players interested and attentive the throughout. Instead of having an extensive item management mechanic, healing items and power-ups like strength and defense potions are dropped by enemies on a fairly regular basis. Less emphasis is placed on dealing with items and more placed on maintaining a constant flow of battle and using various abilities in Adol’s arsenal to dispose of the myriad of foes that come your way throughout the adventure.
Dungeons are varied and filled with enemies to hack-and-slash your way through. Treasure is plentiful and it actually felt like I was able to explore quite a lot – both in the overworld and within each dungeon. There were branching paths and hidden secrets all over the place. Also varied is the enemies themselves, both in visual design and in what it takes to defeat them. Being more of an action RPG, The Oath of Felghana has mechanics for jumping and dashing, along with your typical swashbuckling.
Some enemies fly, and you’ll have to use jump attacks to defeat them. Some are near immune to physical attacks and you’ll have to focus your magical capabilities on them, or vice versa. Bosses are unique and challenging, as well. They aren’t overbearing, but typically always provide a pattern to their attacks. The challenge comes in figuring this out and making creative use of your abilities. I felt no artificial difficulty here, which is awesome, and, frankly, a breath of fresh air.
There are little nuances to the game that didn’t really sit too well with me. There is no in-game mini-map, so it’s hard to figure out where you’ve been and where you’re going. Sometimes, the odd 2.5D platforming elements – such as jumping up to attack an enemy, or jumping from rock to rock – don’t work too well. On many, many occasions I found myself combating a flying enemy for longer than was really necessary, just to get Adol to correctly jump attack, and in the right location, to boot.
Some things, such as cut scenes, tended to go on and on, especially at the beginning, however overall, the plot moved along at a decent pace. This is a bit of a turn-off for a portable title, because I swear when I started the game, it was at least 20 minutes before I could save. Speaking of saving, the save points in and around towns aren’t immediately noticeable, either. On several occasions I had to sit and scratch my head wondering where on God’s green earth the blasted save point was. Sometimes they’re placed just outside of town, before you get to the field screen. But, the problem here is that the narrative is keeping you in town and you have no reason to go all the way down the path that leads out of town. So, you’re sitting there in town, looking around frantically for a save point, because it isn’t sitting in the town square or inn. This was quite the bother.
Again, the voice acting – while not horrible, was way too over-the-top, although it was highlighted by a few characters that made things enjoyable. This, as I mentioned earlier, is probably why Adol being a silent character is a blessing in disguise. The story wasn’t too compelling, but frankly, it didn’t have to be. It was paced well and aptly placed the focus on the journey to various story points through the awesome action-packed battle mechanics.
Overall, Ys: The Oath in Felghana is a solid RPG and a very worthy addition to any RPG fan’s PSP library. I’m telling you, this little system – regardless of what anyone else says – is packed full of RPG goodness, and things are no different here. If you’re a fan of the franchise or genre, I highly suggest picking up a copy of this title, you mostly likely won’t be disappointed. While not quite as enjoyable as Ys Seven, the good far outweighs the bad, and there is plenty of adventure – and damsel in distress saving – to be had.
- Title: Ys: The Oath in Felghana
- Platform Reviewed: PSP
- Developer: Nihon Falcom
- Publisher: XSEED
- Release Date: November 2, 2010
- MSRP: $29.99
- Review Copy Info: A copy of this title was provided to DualShockers Inc. by the publisher for the purpose of this review.