The Vita is becoming a bastion for hidden gems. We’ve seen Gravity Rush, the best version of Persona 4 in Persona 4 Golden, and a treasure like Tearaway that couldn’t exist anywhere else. Now, another diamond has been added to the pile, giving one another chance to spend at least 20 hours cavorting around a virtual world with longtime Ys protagonist Adol Christin.
Said hero doesn’t have any idea who he is as Ys: Memories of Celceta begins, however. Adol set off into the Great Forest, and apparently did something, but that’s gone now. He stumbled back into town with nothing – no sword, no memories, and no energy. It’s only a stroke of fortune that he ran into his friend Duren, who he visited before leaving the border town, and is given a chance to reclaim what he’s lost.
This starts by seeing a strange glow when Adol and Duren run to check on some miners. They dug too deep, awoke some monsters and found some ruins, and are in desperate need of rescuing. Adol learns he can find his memories by touching glowing spheres, and the two go in to save the day.
The rescue draws the eye of Governor General Griselda of the Romun Empire, which has stationed itself in Celceta. The Empire wants to map the Great Forest, and is offering 30 million gold to those willing to brave the danger and enter the forest. Since Adol would have to go back in anyway to regain his lost memories, he and Duren join forces to explore the unknown. Naturally, there’s something more going on in Celceta, and only Adol and his crew can set things right.
Before we get into anything, I have strict instructions for you. If you’re going to play Ys: Memories of Celceta, you have to have the music on. Get out your headphones, crank it up, and prepare to hear one a soundtrack that will change your life. The music is that good. Which is only natural. The Ys games have set a precident for RPG music, and it’s only natural that trend continues.
Besides, it works as a perfect compliment to every aspect of the game. Especially the story and script. While the story itself isn’t exactly revolutionary or extraordinary, it is a well told adventure that gives Adol plenty of excuse to stick his nose into everyone’s business. We gleen new insight into this iconic figure’s past, while also being treated to some of the most entertaining dialogue to you will read in a JRPG. Xseed did a wonderful job with localization, as always, and while Ys: Memories of Celceta may not be the most serious and provocative of adventures, it will keep a smile on the player’s face. Especially if you go with the more amusing of Adol’s potential responses.
Yet, as much as I enjoy the amazing script, ample exploration incentives, and glorious soundtrack, I have to say Ys: Memories of Celceta stands out as my favorite installment in the series because of the sublime combat experience. Nihon Falcom has done something wonderful here. Building on the Ys Seven premise, of allowing players to switch between Adol and allies on the fly, Ys: Memories of Celceta perfects the notion. Combat, when performed properly, is a rhythmic dance.
A good player knows the exact timing for precise strikes and dodges, and knows the perfect combo-building means so standard, special, and ultimate attacks can be chained down to take down even the most mammoth of monsters in minutes. Even though the constantly respawning enemies can get tedious, dispatching them never tired me. It was a joy to cut through the hordes, switching between characters to get those perfect kills.
Yet, there is some sadness in this. While the majority of Ys: Memories of Celceta encounters encourage diversity, the endgame presumes players will use Adol. The majority of monsters have varied weaknesses to strike, slash and piercing, which means a smart player can swap their party leader for the most efficient battles. Yet, as the game draws to a close, preferences start to fade in favor of constant Adol usage. Not to say you can’t still use whomever you want, just that Adol ends up always being the “smart” choice.
Still, even that minor niggling isn’t enough to even come close to lessening the love I have for Ys: Memories of Celceta. This is my favorite installment in the series. There is just so much to do and see, and Adol’s mission and sidequests never feel like a chore. Everything just comes together in this perfect package that exemplifies everything one should expect from a good action RPG. If you own a Vita and don’t plan to get Ys: Memories of Celceta, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Food for Thought:
1. Be a hoarder. Collect every element you can, because there’s a rather robust crafting system. Not to mention, exchanging lesser materials for better ones doesn’t always mean more equipment opportunities. It can also supplement your income.
2. The memories element was actually pretty exciting. There are glimpses into the Adol’s distant and recent past, giving players a better idea of how he came to be the adventurer he is for the first time.
3. The new dialogue options for Adol change the whole silent protagonist mindset. While there are still instances where players get a third person summary of what he said, most of the time they’re able to choose his response. I appreciated the change, and liked the reactions to my snarky!Adol, but those expecting classic Adol may be disappointed.
4. While Ys: Memories of Celceta isn’t the most visually impressive Vita game I’ve played, I still found it absolutely beautiful and a definite improvement.