Note: I re-reviewed this game in 2015. Please disregard this original review.
So, let me get this straight, Ms. Nigma. After starting the year strong with a total of five Metal Gear Solid titles in your possession, you do three, stop with no plans to finish the quest, and instead review some Ys games. A franchise that you were pretty okay with when it came to Ys Chronicles, liked with the title you reviewed just a few days ago, Oath in Felghana. Fine, just be sure to get around to reviewing those titles when you get a PS Vita under your reservation price, ya cheapo… You are just buying Steam games instead, aren’t you?
Ys Origin Review
Developer: Nihon Falcom Corporation
Publisher: XSeed Games
Set far before the first title in the franchise, as signified by the fact it is named what it is, Ys Origin’s story is connected to the others in lore only, detailing a mystical tower that pierced the sky with its twenty-five floors that served as the later half of Ys I. With the stars not shining over the ever distant ancestor of Adol Christin, who happens to just look like the red headed mute (said the quiet red headed man), and instead a duo of playable characters, with an unlockable third. However, due to the layout of the dungeon being the same regardless of the character, I just went with the simple axe wielding girl by the name of Yunica. Whose story does amount to the standard big bad, but has several other tropes shoved in. Fatherly revengeance, friend to important character of a series, brash but heartfelt as all heck, the list goes on. However, due to her ability to speak, and a well done english script, it managed to be basic, but hardly a bad story especially in comparison to what I’ve seen from the franchise.
Although, part of the reason why I found the story pleasant despite its tropiness was the integration. Namely the game is now a fully fledged dungeon brawler where everything is just about as straightforward as can be, and the scenery leaves the occurrence of plot heavy events as clear as day. With the guess being who out of the cast sixteen or so character is going to pop up. Which goes more or less the same for the other character I tried for about an hour, Hugo, with the key difference being how he, and the character around him acted differently. That, and how he played far worse than Yunica in my opinion, but I’ll get to that.
Seeing as how the title came less than two years after Oath in Felghana, Origin is pretty similar in terms of gameplay, at least with Yunica. Juggling the canned, but comfortable weapon combo with hopping and using a trio of MP consuming moves, which are more or less the same abilities, just gained in a different order. With the ever building experience boost, and stacking stat increases dropped by enemies keeping the pace nice and fast, like the radical music for every area where it is expected for you to bash some baddies. A process that is made slightly more tedious than I believe to be necessary due to a minor detail in the returning bestiary that operates on the logic of Ys I and II, meaning you need to kill the baddies 18 times in order to get all their information. With the key difference being how it is oddly 36 times.
Still, the boss battles are something I’d rush at repeating if not for how weird it is to go from all powers to no powers due to the high octane energy bursting within every even numbered one, and the slightly less energetic odd numbered ones. With the upgrade system being a very nice mix between a traditional hunt for not so hidden items, and spending gold (the game also calls it SP) on upgrades of your choosing. Though, getting back to Hugo, he seems like more of an experimental character, as he attacks with projectiles, which must be tapped to fire despite how frequently you must use them.
This becomes very concerning due to how you naturally need to be facing where you are firing, as the game doesn’t use a second analog stick. With dodging feeling far more tedious as contact is not being made directly with the sixty-some-odd assortment of baddies because two thirds of his shots are coming from little orbits around him. Though, much like that mage character in Recettear, which this game oddly reminds me of, he is apparently very good in boss battles, despite how I fumbled through the one I encountered. A scenario I was not all that familiar with, though that can likely be due to grinding more than anything else.
While on the production side of things, I’m assuming the reason this game was and will likely stay on PC is because it looks so gosh darn pretty. Models still look like a funky match up that survived the nineties by sheer chance, but the remainder of the game is very much pure expansion. Smoother bosses, more vibrant areas, slightly better object textures, and the same old gems of bliss that pop out from every downed foe that is worth a darn. However, the portrait designs and ever full body shots of the cast this game introduces do rub me the wrong way, as I’m left trying to figure out if the design style used at the time was considered fresh, or if it was lacking right out of the gate.
Ys Origin is a title that my opinions about certainly diminished as I made my way through it. It does a lot right when viewed as a successor, and is certainly an enjoyable action game, though one with a bit too winding story, in it’s own right. But as things grew more linear, and I tried my second playthrough, it sadly was knocked down from one of my potential favorite titles I played this year. Instead, Ys Origin is merely a beautiful and frantic dungeon brawler that I would recommend to… well, considering it’s low system requirements, anybody with a decent PC.
Applaudable efforts that do get hung up on a few too many branches, but very much deserving of a recommendation despite not being all that astonishing.