The Ys series has been on my radar for years, but until now I’d never given the games a try. Originally released on PC in 2006 in Japan, Ys Origin later got a worldwide release in 2012. I always had the intention on getting into the franchise, but never got around to it. With the folks at DotEmu releasing a Playstation 4 version with updated visuals and features not found in the original release, this was the perfect opportunity to jump into the world of Ys.
Serving as a prequel to the entire series, Ys Origin takes place 700 years before the first game. You have the option of playing as Yunica or Hugo with additional character unlocks after beating the game. Each character has different story elements, skill set and combat style. Yunica is a close ranged character who wields and axe at the beginning, while Hugo is a long-ranged magic user whose play style resembles Touhou.
The land of Ys was once a prosperous and beautiful nation under the protection of the Goddesses Reah and Feena. Over time, demons began appearing and waged war against Ys. Without a way to fight back, the Goddesses elevated the land of Ys into the sky in an attempt to flee the demons attack. These demons being relentless, erected a large spire known as Darm Tower in an attempt to reach Ys and continue the war. Amidst all this chaos, the Goddesses Reah and Feena have seemingly disappeared into Darm Tower without reason. Without the power of the Goddesses protection, the land of Ys doesn’t stand a chance against in the war. In order to locate and rescue the Goddesses a search party is formed and this is where the game begins.
Immediately after the prologue, you’ll delve into Darm Tower, which is where the entirety of the game takes place. Origins features a fast-pace action style combat system where connecting and chaining combos are essential. You have your basic attacks which are initiated with the square button and do a solid amount of damage. Special attacks are obtained throughout the tower and can help you both in and out of battle. These attacks use up a stamina bar that automatically regenerates, but learning to combine basic attacks and specials are key to efficiently winning battles.
New items and upgrades are scattered throughout the tower. You’ll start off with a simple axe with Yunica, but soon after you’ll obtain new weapons such as a crimson blade that shoots out large spouts of fire. Besides new equipment like armor, weapons and accessories, you’ll also come across key items that help you traverse the tower and find hidden rooms. A keen player will put these items to good use, while the more agile player won’t feel discouraged for not.
With no map or navigation bar, Ys Origin leaves it up to the player to decide where to go and how to get there. Branching away from more modern JRPG’s, Ys Origins doesn’t feature an autosave function and instead relies on carefully placed Goddess statues as save points. If it isn’t apparent, this game respects the players intelligence and doesn’t pad the game with unnecessary hand-holding mechanics or features. Death in Ys Origins risks reverting to the last save point, meaning progress can be lost if you’re not playing smart. It’s imperative to use your best judgement and know when to advance and when it’s best to back off.
Every few floors within Darm Tower, you’ll be greeted to a boss battle that challenges your combat prowess. Each encounter feels fresh and unique and helps keep the game from feeling tired or repetitive from the grind up the tower. While we’re on the topic of boss battles, the music that accompanies each fight is fantastic and sets the stage for each epic fight. Scars of the Divine Wing is hands down the best boss theme and accompanies one of the coolest boss battles in the game. Boss battles are definitely where Ys Origin shines the brightest, with the music following close behind.
Speaking of music, Ys Origin has one fantastic OST and will probably push me to purchasing the soundtrack. It’s just that damn good. Combining some awesome orchestral instruments and harmonies with sick guitar riffs and fast-paced drumming, it’s a delight to your eardrums.
Being from the mid 2000’s, you’d expect Ys Origin to have somewhat outdated graphics, but that isn’t the case here. Using a combination of sprites and 3D environments, the overall look for Origins definitely holds up and looks phenomenal on a modern day console. DotEmu has done the game justice by including widescreen resolutions, updated interfaces and 60fps gameplay. Everything feels smooth and I didn’t experience any frame drops or issues during my 15 hours of playtime.
Having Origin finally available on Playstation 4 and with Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana on the horizon, now is the perfect time to delve into the Ys series. And with Origins being a prequel to the entire series, it’s easily the best entry-point whether you game on console or PC. DotEmu has done a fantastic job bringing the PC version of Ys Origins to Playstation 4 and definitely deserves your attention if you enjoy JRPG’s.
Release Date - February 21, 2017
Review code provided by DotEmu