Review: Ys: The Oath in Felghana (PSP)

Title: Ys: The Oath in Felghana
Format: UMD / PlayStation Network Download
Release Date: November 2, 2010
Publisher: XSEED
Developer: Falcom
Original MSRP: $29.99 / $39.99 (Limited Edition)

I’ve been a fan of the series since I played the Turbografx version of Ys Book 1&2, but my exposure with the series is mainly based on what’s been available in the US, so I’m warning the Ys die-hard’s out there, that I know about the Japanese PC titles etc, but this review is really focused on what I’ve played in the past. Ys: The Oath in Felghana (referenced as Felghana for this review,) is a re-telling of what many of us knew as Ys III on the Turbografx, SNES, and Genesis. What was once a game that many, including me, considered a terrible game, has quickly become one of my favorites in the genre.

For anyone that’s ever played an Ys game in the US, the gameplay mechanics have remained relatively similar, and anyone who’s played those games also understands the term “Linebacker Combat.” In a refreshing switch, your attacks are not performed by simply running into your enemies, and instead likens itself more to the gameplay found in a Zelda title. You have an actual attack button, and another to invoke magic spells and attacks. The gameplay is straightforward, with excellent control with both the d-pad and the analog nub. The interface is incredibly intuitive and streamlined, making it easy even for those new to the Action RPG genre to get into the action.

I don’t want to reveal much of the story, but it kicks-in pretty quickly, as you playing the red-haired Adol accompanying his long-time adventure companion Dogi back to the land where he grew up. You’re quickly pulled-in to helping the townsfolk with some monster problems, and as the worldly adventurer that you are, you immediately set off to vanquishing beasts and battling enemies. The story is compelling and easy to follow, and the fat that I can tell you exactly what’s going on shows that it’s good enough for me to actually pay attention to it, which is rare for me.

This is a beautiful game! The engine is smooth, with backgrounds and environment rendered in 3D, and sprite-based characters all have great animations. The camera is fixed from above, but will also move around during cinematic scenes. I believe that this is the same engine from the PS2 and PSP “Ys: The Ark of Napishtim”, and quite frankly, it’s stunning in this instance. I also played via the component cables on a large monitor, and it looked great even then. The lighting effects are well done, and the special effects are excellent. I have no complaints about the visuals in this game whatsoever.

The Ys series, and developer Falcom are both known for some truly memorable soundtracks, and Felghana includes one of the best I’ve ever heard. As a ‘bonus’ of sorts, you can even choose to use the soundtracks from the PC88 and X68K versions of the game. While those are cool additions in terms of comparison and fan-service, the actual soundtrack is all you seriously need, Other options include being able to turn voice acting on or off, and a separate option to toggle the narration (which is very well done I might add.) The voice acting can be hit-or-miss, but definitely falls to the side of ‘hit.’ There have only been a couple of characters whose voices were truly what I would consider bad. Any dialogue can be skipped by hitting X, but it never runs-on long enough to bore you.

Past all of that, the gameplay audio its;f does the job in spades, as the weapon and magic effects are definitely above average. The audio space is multi-layered and fills your headphones with all kinds of awesome.

Like I said, I’m not really the one to talk about how good this one is when compared to everything in the Ys universe, but I will say this. Ys: The Oath in Felghana has now become my favorite in the Ys series, and has also become one of my favorites in the entire Action-RPG genre. It’s easy to pick up, easy to play, and has a compelling story. The visuals are some of the nicest I’ve seen on the PSP in a long time, and the audio is top-notch. There’s no question about it, buy this game, it’s an absolute blast to play.


Mark’s Second Opinion
Well, I probably am one to talk about how this game compares to the rest of the Ys series, being something of an obsessive die-hard fanboy of it. As Glenn mentioned this is a complete remake of Ys III and a port of the Japan-only PC version of Ys: The Oath in Felghana released in 2005. Having played the import PC version, I knew what to expect gameplay-wise, but still came away extremely impressed with how well it translated to the PSP. Especially considering Konami’s sub-par efforts with Ys The Ark of Napishtim on PSP, this is a vast improvement.

To be honest, I can’t add a whole lot to Glenn’s review except more gushing! The graphics look great, the level designs are well done and feature some occasionally devious platforming, and it has what is possibly my favorite video game soundtrack ever (plus two retro bonus soundtracks!) It’s great to see another Ys game in English and thankfully, Ys Oath in Felghana has a stronger storyline than the recently released Ys Seven and XSeed has done a good job with the localization. What really makes Felghana stand out from the rest though is how close they’ve come to achieving Action-RPG perfection. Everything moves at a blazing pace and never drags on. The combat even encourages you to move quickly by giving you bonus multipliers that quickly deplete unless you keep refilling them with more items dropped by enemies.

While it’s a much shorter game than a lot of other Action-RPGs, it’s so tightly designed it feels more arcade-like than RPG and almost encourages repeated play on harder difficulties the better you get at it. This all may come as a bit of a shock to fans whose first Ys experience was Ys Seven, which introduced a lot more RPG-like elements and a much longer, less tightly-woven game. Not a bad thing by any means, just different. Falcom and XSeed have taken the worst game in the series and turned it into the best, not only creating one of the greatest Action-RPGs ever made, but also one of the best games in the PSP’s library.


Written by Glenn Percival

Glenn Percival

Just a guy that loves games, movies, Golf, Football, and Baseball.

Editor-in-Chief, Video Producer, and whipping-boy

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