Review: Ys Origin (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation Vita
  • PC

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
  • PlayStation TV Compatible No
  • Cross-Buy Yes
  • Cross-Save TBD
  • Cross-Play No
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: Ys Origin
Format: PSN (1.76 GB)
Release Date: March 6, 2017 (PS4) / May 30, 2017 (PSV)
Publisher: DotEmu
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Original MSRP: $19.99
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Ys Origin feels like an old school Japanese RPG, which makes sense since it was originally released in 2006 as a prequel to the first Ys.

The tutorial is a few pop-up screens with detailed descriptions of the controls. While this is certainly not the most entertaining way to learn how to play, it’s more than adequate.

The game is front-loaded with lots of text explaining the setup for the adventure. That’s followed by a video that covers everything that the player just read. I’m not sure why the game has both.

The difficulty is mostly well balanced. Combat is largely mashing the attack button, but you still have to pay attention to the enemies and your surroundings. The real difficulty comes with the bosses.

The boss fights are less about inflicting constant damage and more about surviving waves and patterned attacks, waiting until you are able to get in a few hits and then repeat. This makes the boss fights long and drawn out.

The difficulty spike, and spending half an hour on a boss only to die a few hits away from finishing him off, caused me to put the controller down and walk away a few times. All of this was even more frustrating because the game cannot be paused during a boss fight.

… the level variety does little to change things up …
The combat is primarily the same throughout the game, but a few new abilities and mechanics are sprinkled in from time to time. While exploring the tower, you’ll find or be given items that grant new abilities which will also allow you to get past obstacles.

Of course the game does not automatically equip the new items or tell you how to do it. While the new abilities are great, they are used sparingly and forgotten. I found a mask that can be equipped to find hidden entrances but it also makes the enemies invisible. I used it right away, and ten minutes later, but then never used it again.

Multiple abilities are never used to solve the same environmental puzzle. The original developers had an opportunity here to continue to mix things up and keep the game feeling fresh.

After a while Ys Origin just feels like more of the same. The new abilities and mechanics are nice but not enough. Even the level variety does little to change things up. Whether in an underwater or fire dungeon, the game is the same, except for the enemy design.

While there are branching paths, the game is very linear. You’ll often find that the path to the next level is temporarily blocked until another branch is explored and the item needed to proceed is found.

… the game is a large series of dungeons with nothing in between …
Because Ys Origin is an origin story in part for the Darm tower, players are stuck in the tower the entire game. This is my first Ys game. When I talked to people about the series, things like exploration would come up as an important aspect of many of the games. That is simply lacking here.

The mechanics and new abilities do little to mix things up. Instead, the game is a large series of dungeons with nothing in between.

At the start, you can select between two different characters, while a third is unlocked after beating the game once. Each has their own fighting style, distinct story, and unique insight into the events that are happening. Fans of the series that are into the lore will have plenty of motivation to replay the game.

Visuals:
Re-releases are generally great for publishers because they are a low risk revenue stream. Still, I cannot help but wonder what the budget was for porting Ys Origin to the PlayStation 4.

DotEmu mentions optimizing the visuals and effects and improving the UI as the big changes that were made to the original PC version. Fans of the series will be able to enjoy the game in widescreen HD. But it feels like all they did was get the visuals to HD and stop, with no improvement from there.

… animations have also not aged well …
The cutscenes at the beginning of the game are fairly pixelated. At times you can see the floor loading in one section at a time. I was never able to get a good screen cap of this but in the picture unfortunately.

The animations have also not aged well. This has me worried for the Vita version. Perhaps the game will look better on the smaller screen. My worry is that limited hardware of the Vita will cause the performance to be even worse.

Audio:
The music seems like it was taken straight out of an epic quest movie. The rock-ish tunes help raise the energy and keep the player moving forward.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
Ys Origin was a good game when it was originally released but it has not aged well. Fans of the series and action RPGs can still find some enjoyment, especially if they’re interested in the lore.

The graphic and performance issues aside, the game is very repetitive. There isn’t enough to keep the combat and exploration interesting. In 2006, I would have recommend this to many RPG fans. However, it just does not hold up compared to the wide breadth of unique and interesting action RPGs that are available today.

Score:
6.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Matt Engelbart

Matt Engelbart

I love all things video games. When I am not gaming I am watching the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, BBQing, and reading.

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