Note: I re-reviewed this game in 2020. Please disregard this original review.
Well, it’s been a good while since I touched the Ys series with my review of Ys Chronicles, but I ended up buying the other half of this franchise that I can buy on Steam. With Ys: Oath in Felghana being a remake of Ys III as much as Metroid Zero Mission is a remake of Metroid. In fact, arguably less similar as Ys III was a side scrolling RPG that looked completely alien to me when I looked up gameplay of one of its many versions. Where as Oath to Farharad is something far more distinct.
Ys: Oath in Felghana Review
Platforms: PC(Reviewed), PSP
Developer: Nihon Falcom Corporation
Publisher: XSeed Games
Set two year after the ever mighty mute Adol Christin saved the world from some dark energy thing that I mostly forgot about. Oath of Farfignugen is not all that different from its predecessor in terms of storyline, as it pretty much amounts to Adol Christin needing to save another land from some sort of ancient evil that a hero is suppose to defeat. There are a handful of traits that were not quite as tropey if you view the title as a retelling of a story from 1989, but as a whole it felt as if it were going through the motions. Hero enters town unprepared, meets a girl who might dig him, but due to how he is portrayed as a mute most of the time, nothing much comes from it, and he serves as an avatar for violence based justice more than a person. With the hero characterization going to the recurring sidekick, Dogi, but his contributions could be fulfilled by any schmuck with a boat and an altar for an item.
Oh, but the gameplay is surely something that would follow the last game in being rather enjoyable, and it does while also reinventing itself through imitation of the Japanese exclusive Ys V, a move that likely makes less sense the more you think about it. Instead, it is a good old button mashy fast paced action title with a stats driven backing to it, as Adol can now swing his sword with a button, and double jump through the expected assortment of goons. A good backing that is naturally given special abilities that are activated through an ever regenerating magic bar, and three variations. However, I always fell back on the one that allowed me to do a spin attack, as aiming in an overhead title where you have the option to permanently activate the ability to dash is harder than one would assume. While a short bash that grants temporary invulnerability is only a big damage dealer for enemies made of rocks.
Yet, a move that seems minor, but enables this game to maintain a very enjoyable breeze-like pace is the inclusion of diminishing status boosters and an experience multiplier that rises with everything that gets sword smacked along the way. Encouraging the player to keep on moving, and make the combat, which can easily be viewed as very repetitious, something of a blast. A feeling further invoked by another very bombastic score that makes the journey all the more energetic, with the supporting sound effects making grinding something that was borderline enjoyable. Though the amount that is expected in order to reach the tautened maximum level seems to be some sort of joke by the designers to see who would spend an hour getting a single level in a game that can easily be cleared in ten.
Yet the basic flow of this title is still pretty enthralling when interrupted by, say, a well crafted boss battle that perplexingly cannot be paused. Which are the polar opposite to story scenes with a barrage of minor character who hold their own undetailed side quests that are very easy to miss unless you, like me, used an FAQ after realizing the trends from Chronicles would continue, sadly. Despite how I am pretty sure the majority of these activities were added to the remake, as the original holds as much similarity to the title as Zelda II does to the rest of its respective franchise.
While the colorful and well done spritework was replaced with a comparable, Ys: Oath in Flabadoop seems to grab everything it could do with a PSP, or more specifically a Japanese PC from 2005. Character models are represented through that weird Bastion and Code of Princess style of using 3D models to insert character that look somewhat three dimensional, though it borders some variation of uncanny. Backgrounds are non-intensive polygonal chunks littered with stylish paint that resembles what I view as its predecessor. With the colorful bits that pop out of an exploded baddie being lovely 32-bit chunks that leave behind non-intrusive numbers that amount to a very pretty looking game. Though, the less said about the dialog scenes’ very blah looking mugshots, basic font, and overly-whimsical dialog boxes, the better.
I would not hesitate by any means in claiming Ys Oath to Felghana is an improvement on all fronts when placed side to side with Ys Chronicles, but the amount that was improved feels to miss quite a few issues I had with the prior title. Namely how a lot of the inner workings feel a bit on the archaic side, as the story continues the trends set by its predecessor, with the key difference being how Adol does not appear to have much reason to go along with it aside from his apparently heroic nature. It is still a fun title with lots of pixelly but still tasty eye candy, and s title I would not hesitate to recommend as long as you’re willing to toggle between a guide and the game. Or maybe I’m just dumb.
The game is solid at its core, that much is very true, but the hiccups start to get more than a bit too present to be pushed aside, or the title might just be lacking in a textbook full of different manners.