By Steve Baltimore / December 3rd, 2013
|Title: Ys: Memories of Celceta
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: Nihon Falcom Corporation
Release Date: November 26th, 2013
Genre: Action RPG
Age Rating: T
We are once again welcomed back to the world of Ys. In the latest installment, Ys: Memories of Celceta, we find series protagonist Adol Christin on another adventure. This time the young man has decided to explore the ancient Forest of Celceta. Our young hero runs into a bit of trouble somewhere along his journey and has lost his memories. He teams up with an informant dealer, Duren, whom he met a local bar. They are hired by Griselda, the governor general of Celceta to map out the forest. Together they set out on a quest to explore the great forest and recover Adol’s lost memories.
The story overall is excellent; there are plenty of plot twists and turns along the way to keep you interested. The characters in the story are pretty well written. I enjoyed the characters taking some well-timed jabs at each other throughout the story. The entire lore is wonderful. I found myself pushing the story forward not only to know more about what exactly happened to Adol, but also what exactly happened in this land many years ago. It really pulls you in from the start and doesn’t let you go. The translation team over at XSEED did a great job of writing on this one.
Graphically this title is very solid. The character models are colorful and fairly detailed. All of the environments look fantastic. The Vita’s OLED screen makes this forest come to life–from the lush tree-covered areas to the dark recesses of the caves. The draw distance is just crazy; you can see great distances into the environments. Never fear though, if the camera zooms out too far to see the action you can pinch the touch screen to zoom in to where you are. Thought I cannot think of a single time I had to do this. There is even a day-night cycle that occurs; you will only find certain things at night. I did not run into any major graphical glitches during my 22 hours of playtime. A few times the frame rate would dip just a bit when there were a ton of enemies on the screen at once. This was very rare and most of the time this game travels at a breakneck pace–even the load times are very short.
The music is in this game is absolutely incredible, just like all of the other Falcom titles. A great OST will go a long way toward immersing you in a game, and this one does just that. From the rocking exploration themes to more somber town themes, every piece of music is a work of art. There are a few voiced lines here and there in the dialogue. They didn’t really add to the experience, but they didn’t hurt anything either. The sound effects are all nicely done as well–standard grunts and yells of combat and the sounds of the creatures you’re doing battle with. Everything here functions as it should and fits in quite well with the overall feel of the game.
Gameplay in general is that of a hack n’ slash action RPG. You can have up to three party members on the screen at one time. Two of them will be controlled by the AI. You can switch the AI from offensive to defensive by simply running your finger across the back touchpad. Switching to any party member you have on the field is a snap: just press the O button. This added a ton of variety to the combat as each character has his or her own unique weapon and skills. Character skills will level up the more times you use them. I had a blast playing around with each of the characters. You can even get some trophies for using each character for a certain amount of time. You can find a lot more information about about the combat at the official website.
The Forest of Celceta is enormous. Without the great mapping features found here this would become irritating very quickly. You can tap the mini map in the top right corner of the screen for a local map of the screen you are currently on, or press select for the bigger map of the overall forest. The bigger map will show you any towns you have visited, where treasure chests you have been close to are, warp monuments and other things. Warp monuments are very important; since this map is so huge, without them you would be endlessly backtracking. This made this process painless. Once you activate a monument, you can warp back there from any other monument you find in the forest that is the same color. Later, this will be upgraded to allow you warp to any place at anytime. This is really helpful later on as you collect some of the artifacts found throughout the game. They have abilities that allow to your reach areas you couldn’t travel to before. These also serve as checkpoints so if you were to fall in combat you will start back at last monument you touched.
You will run across a few dungeons along the way through the vast forest and yep, there will be a few puzzles to be solved here as well. Some will involve collecting items and a simple touch screen mini-game. While others may require you to use some of your characters Unique Actions. For example, if a chest is locked only Duren can unlock it or if you need to bust through a wall maybe Ozma’s spear will do the trick. These areas are very easy to spot. When you get close enough to them a circle will appear around them. You will have to switch to the character with the action you need and press the triangle button. The only real problem I have with this is if the person you need is not on screen, you have to go to the camp menu and put them in your party. While this doesn’t take a whole lot of time, all other commands, such as using items, are right on the touch screen. I’m not sure why this couldn’t have been there as well.
When you stumble across a new town, there will be several different areas of interest you will want to check out. There are usually shops, a smith to upgrade your weapons and armor and place to check for quests. Weapons and armor are easily upgraded from the materials you obtain through slaying monsters and little cold hard cash. Effects on the equipment vary depending on what types of materials you are using to upgrade them. For example if you use a iron ingot, you will raise the strength of the item by one, but if you use a gold ingot it will increase by 3. There are several different effects you can add to your weapons in this fashion as well. I would raise up my weapons freeze ability when possible. I loved stopping foes in their tracks while I beat them senseless. Each stat can be raised to a maximum value of 9 on any given piece of equipment. In certain towns you can craft accessories as well, these will have varying effects. If you have the required materials and a bit of gold you can make your life a lot easier with these.
Each town has a quest board. You check the board and it will tell you who wants a certain thing done. These can be simple things like fetch quests or monster hunts. You do not accept quests through this board though, you need to find the person in town who made the request. Then complete the quest and collect your reward. On the big map over each town it will show you what quests are available if you have seen them on the quest board but not yet completed them. Monster hunt quests will have map markers to show you the area the monsters are in.
This is one of the best action RPGs I have played in a very long time. Great story, epic music, and wonderful combat make this title the full package. The fact that it features four different difficulty options makes it accessible to just about anyone. I didn’t have too hard of a time playing though on the normal setting, but I would imagine nightmare would be quite a challenge based on some of the boss battles found here. They are both huge and epic. If you’re a fan of this genre, love a great story, or enjoy some very refined action based combat for its $40 price tag you cannot go wrong with this title. Remember in my Valhalla Knights 3 review when I said you should probably hold out for a better action RPG on the Vita? Well here it is folks.
Game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.