The latest addition to the venerable series should please fans looking for its distinctive gameplay, soundtrack compositions, and proud heritage.
Ys Seven is a self-contained adventure, so if you're new to the series, there's no need to worry about being lost or having to keep up with the story so far. And this outing is packed with a lot of heart. This wouldn't be the true Y's experience without a throbbing, synth-heavy soundtrack to go along with it, and that's exactly what you'll get with Ys Seven's surprisingly rocking set by frequent series contributor and 'gods of metal' JDK Band. While not my favorite entry in the Ys series, it definitely sets the bar high and provides an exciting and invigorating experience just waiting for new fans to hop in and see what's out there.
August 17, 2010
Written by Brittany Vincent (editor-at-large)
The Ys series, a venerable and long-running RPG franchise from developer
Falcom, returns to Sony's portable darling with Ys Seven, the
latest numerical sequel in a long list of releases, most of which haven't made
it Stateside. This entry found its way to gamers in Japan last September, while
North American experience point junkies had to wait about a year for a followup
to the brilliant Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim. Ys chronicles the adventures of
one Adol the Red, or Adol Christin to those not acquainted with the swordsman,
as well as the companions he meets along the way. Entries in this series have
appeared everywhere from the MSX2 to cell phones, and it shows no signs of
slowing. The latest addition was released in Japan last year and thanks to Xseed
Games, lucky non-Japanese fans can now enjoy the latest addition to the stalwart
RPG series keeps players comfortable and coming back for more.
In this addition to the Ys family, Adol, along with buddy Dogi, are landing
at Altago to investigate some strange goings-on such as random earthquakes and
vicious monsters with no regard for human life. Obviously these things make
living here a total nightmare, so Adol and Dogi are set to get to the bottom of
what's causing this brouhaha. Throughout an admittedly slow beginning for story
exposition and traditional RPG mainstays: investigate, talk to everyone, and
learn the basics, you'll progress from sluggish conversational sequences to the
real meat of the game: battling - and lots of it.
Though it might be surprising to hear, action isn't turn-based. RPG die-hards
may find that hard to swallow when looking toward a long-running series like
this for traditionalism, but they couldn't be further from the truth. Ys Seven
continues the franchise's long history and plays much more like an action title
than a run-of-the-mill JRPG. Full parties are comprised of three members, but
rather than prancing forth for a slap-hand fight with your enemy and running
back to a safe distance, you control one character at a time in real time.
Each character has a quick-hit combo for use with the face buttons for
dealing basic damage as well as charge attacks that deplete SP points in your SP
gauge. These special attacks range from a furious flurry of fists to more ranged
attacks, but all pack a considerable wallop when dealing with the game's more
beastly foes. Each character's skill sets can be leveled up through subsequent
battles, but there's a twist. Rather than simply gaining these skills, they're
acquired via equipping new and different weapons. It's a system I haven't
enjoyed as much since the days of the Final Fantasy IX gem system and one that I
particularly loved -- it gave me an excuse to continue trying out all the new
weapons at my disposal rather than sticking with the one that gave me the best
stats. With each character dabbling in a certain weapon type (Aisha with bows or
piercing weapons, for example) this is a blessing in disguise, since otherwise
you might not be pushed into trying all of the available selection out. I know
I'm picky with such things.
The AI handles your other two companions (very competently, I might add)
while you pummel enemies into oblivion. You can damage 'friendlies' with
area-specific attacks, so be careful, but for the most part AI partners know
when to keep out of the way and let you take center stage. Combat is fluid and
fast-paced, in such stark contrast to most RPGs, channeling modern romps like
Kingdom Hearts and the like where even after-combat space is rewarding in that
you must pick up all the "phat loot drops."
Ys Seven is a self-contained adventure, so if you're new to
the series, there's no need to worry about being lost or having to keep up with
the story so far. And this outing is packed with a lot of heart. Unfortunately,
it's not exactly overflowing with new and exciting backdrops, and you'll be
fighting through the same dungeons (five, to be exact) twice, and I can't find
any real discernible reason why this should be acceptable. At least your
second trip is peppered with different dungeon layouts and slightly different
arrangements, but even this can't mask the fact that you're still backtracking
to the exact same locations you've already visited. Nostalgia is one
thing, but I think we've all grown past this 'game-extending' cheat by now, and
it's time the Ys series had, too.
This wouldn't be the true Y's experience without a throbbing, synth-heavy
soundtrack to go along with it, and that's exactly what you'll get with
Ys Seven's surprisingly rocking set by frequent series contributor and
'gods of metal' JDK Band. While not approaching the exquisite metallic
cheese of the earliest games, they certainly give it their best shot by
providing some of the best tracks in some time, often going well beyond simply
replicating the distinctive Ys style and providing actual music that not only
fits the game like a glove, but sounds great blasting out of your speakers (or
headphones, if that's your thing).
I have few qualms with Ys Seven's frenetic action and
enjoyable plot line. In fact, it may act as an acceptable gateway drug into the
expansive game world that several RPG fanatics are already well entrenched in.
It's a fun, light adventure that feels genuinely rewarding for pressing on, even
tossing in some new friends along the way. While not my favorite entry in the Ys
series, it definitely sets the bar high and provides an exciting and
invigorating experience just waiting for new fans to hop in and see what's out