I was first introduced to the Ys series when I checked out one of the fan translated PC remakes on a whim one lazy Sunday afternoon and was instantly taken in by lightning quick gameplay, huge bosses and a stellar soundtrack.
After that, I made a point to check out all the other Ys games I could get my hands on. So when I heard that there was a brand new Ys title in the works for the Vita, I had high hopes. Twenty hours of hacking and slashing later, I can safely report that those high hopes were well placed.
Adol’s tale begins just as many others have in the past, as he is found collapsed on the streets without any memory of just exactly who he is or what he was doing there in the first place.
After being rescued by some kindly strangers, he is guided by an individual who claims to know him and goes on a quest to reclaim his lost memories and basically help every single person that asks for assistance along the way.
To say that the story in Ys: Memories of Celceta is standard Ys affair would be correct except for the one minor exception where they delve into Adol’s distant past and childhood which had remained more or less a mystery till now.
Adol and his trusty companions brave the “Great Forest” in hopes to find familiar locations and situations (which are represented by memory orbs) to regain Adol’s memory one small fragment at a time.
While the story and plot of Memories of Celceta is nothing to write home about, it serves as an extra bit of motivation to move from one area to the next, fighting new dangerous beasts and finding rare items.
There is very little voice acting and animated FMVs present in the title so it’s recommended that the player curve their expectation as far as the presentation of the story goes but like I said, that does very little to detract from the overall experience as the game play reigns supreme.
The combat in Memories of Celceta closely resembles that of the one from the PSP title, “Ys Seven.”
Adol is almost always followed by a companion or two and with a press on a button, control can be swapped to one of the other characters.
This is essential as the characters hold a weapon trait as they can either be slash, pierce or blunt and many enemies will have a weakness to one trait while being very resistant to the other two types.
While the other two characters controlled by the AI do an admirable job of attacking the enemy, their damage is halved while they’re not being directly controlled so it behooves the player to quickly learn the weaknesses of the monster and switch to the proper character to deal with them swiftly.
There are also other benefits from attacking using the trait that the monster is weak against outside of the higher damage, so there is a big emphasis in switching between characters during combat.
Each character also has their own set of skills which can be slotted in for use and leveled up to be even more effective the more it is utilized. Skill use is governed by SP points which are gained by landing regular hits on enemies and refunded to some degree when a skill is used to land a finishing blow.
Then there are dodges and blocks which can be turned into their “flash” variation when they are executed moments before an attack lands, giving them special properties.
For example, a flash dodge would send the game into slow-mo for a few seconds for uncontested counter attacks and flash guard would negate all damage for blocking that hit and give a 100% crit rate for all attacks for a brief moment.
Jumping from one character to the next on the fly as the situation demands while timing my dodges and guards just right for their respective bonuses while comboing enemies with my arsenal of impressive looking skills, Ys was just a ton of fun to play and it felt just right from the very beginning.
However, it is worth noting that the game suffers from some noticeable frame drops in some parts when the action becomes too hectic, but these moments weren’t all too frequent and their effects minimum to my ability to play the way I wanted.
Even though the combat is wholly enjoyable from beginning to end, the exploration aspect is just as compelling as well.
As an adventurer, Adol’s primary objective has always been traveling to new locations and discovering things on his own, and Memories of Celceta captures that essence very well.
The Great Forest is an uncharted territory and Adol and his companions are commissioned to map the area out by exploring every nook and cranny for various rewards.
As a percentage value of explored areas is located on the world map at all times, I felt like I wanted to get work towards that coveted 100% to get progressively better rewards as I filled out more of the map and frankly, just because I wanted to see all that the game had to offer.
Finding rare items, extremely powerful creatures of unknown purpose and returning to old areas that were blocked off with new tools that allowed me access was a great deal of fun and very addicting.
There were quests to take on the bulletin board of every town and weapons/armor to upgrade to make my team even stronger so I found no shortage of things I wanted to do at any given time.
Clocking in at around twenty hours and with time attack/new game + unlocking after the completion of the game, there’s a lot to see and explore. While I was a bit surprised to find that the normal difficulty was a bit too easy for Ys standards and wished that I had started off on hard mode, I had a great time with Adol and company exploring the land of Celceta.
Fun Tidbit: The “Ys” series is one that has seen releases in the states in the last few years but it’s one that’s been around for a quarter of a century.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.