Before firing up Ys: The Oath in Felghana, I plugged in my Super Nintendo and played through the opening of Ys III: Wanderers From Ys. As you may recall, The Oath in Felghana is a re-imagining of Wanderers From Ys. While both games follow Adol and Dogi as they return Redmont, Ys: The Oath in Felghana is played from a top down perspective instead of the Zelda II-esque Ys III. Also, Adol doesn’t talk in Oath. A narrator fills in when Adol needs to introduce himself and confirm that he’s ready to save the mayor.
On their return to Dogi’s home village, a pack of monsters attack the duo. In the Wanderers, this fight is part of cutscene. In Ys: The Oath in Felghana its a tutorial where Adol rushes to Elena’s rescue. A menu pops up and explains Adol has a one button combo system and a couple of jumping attacks. Whether Adol slashes or downward thrusts depends when you hit the attack button during the jump.
Ys: The Oath in Felghana is fast paced. Compared to other action RPGs, Adol flies over ground and enemies will lunge at him. Since Ys: The Oath in Felghana is played in a top-down perspective it’s possible to get surrounded. Burst comes in handy here. If your burst meter is full Adol can activate burst mode to reduce damage and hit enemies harder.
The party returns to Redmont after saving Elena. She returns to her home in the corner while Dogi and Adol rest in a separate house for the night. Dogi takes off for the mountains in the morning leaving Adol alone. In both games an injured miner crawls back to Redmont informing Adol (and the player) the mayor is still trapped inside. Without hesitation, Adol runs to the quarry. Actually, you can say "no", but that wouldn’t be very adventurer-like would it?
While Wanderers from Ys has a map that teleports Adol to the right location, Oath in Felghana has an overworld with monsters to explore. Being the first dungeon, Tigray Quarry is only a few screens away. Monsters greet Adol when he steps inside and just like the side-scrolling Super Nintendo game there are flying creatures pester players too. One iconic part of Tigray Quarry is a huge chasm. You can take the stairs and walk safely down fighting brutes along the way or jump off a broken staircase all the way to the bottom. I always leaped in the pit in the Super Nintendo game. So, I’m glad to say you can do the same thing in Ys: The Oath in Felghana.
The level design and layout of Tigary Quarry felt quite familiar in Oath, except that enemies are more aggressive. Before monsters body slam Adol, they flash giving players a warning to jump away or cancel their attack with a combo. Monsters also explode in a pool of body parts and orbs after defeating them. While the limbs flicker out of existence, the orbs play an important role in the game. Grab these to temporarily boost Adol’s strength, defense, and magic recovery rate. Since buffs only last for a fixed amount of time, the system encourages players to hunt down more enemies so they can take advantage of the stat boosts and collect more orbs. Slaying monsters is also the main way for Adol to heal. Some enemies drop HP restoring healing herbs.
Since Ys: The Oath in Felghana doesn’t have the ring system I ran straight to the boss, ignoring the storehouse key I got from a miner. In Wanderers From Ys, Adol has to jump over and duck under wind blades to get close to the boss. All you need to do is evade and jump slash to defeat her. This strategy failed miserably in Ys: The Oath in Felghana. There are still wind blades to dodge (one is wide so you have to jump over it, the other is tall so you have to sidestep it), but you can’t hit Ellefale, the Azure Queen of Death with your sword. I died and was given an option to retry the boss battle (I did) or go to the last check point and leave.
I backtracked to the storehouse to fight Dulan who attacks Adol with flying swords. He wraps himself with a shield while casting so Adol has to focus on dodging. After three rounds of sword attacks, some that lock-on-lite to Adol, he drops his guard just long enough for a short combo. Then he teleports away. Learning these patterns is critical in Ys: The Oath in Felghana because you only have one life bar for each boss fight. Enemies don’t drop herbs and Adol can’t come into a fight wearing a cure ring. There is an expensive pendant that can bring him back to life once, though.
Once Dulan fell I received a fire bracelet that gave Adol his first ranged attack – a fireball. Now I had what I needed to defeat Ellefale. Fireballs eventually took Ellefale down, but since magic recharges slowly some parts of the battle were just dodging wind blades. To throw players off, Ellefale changes her pattern when she’s low on HP adding more moves (like an Adol chasing cyclone) and damaging attacks. A dozen more fireballs after the pattern change and Ellefale was finally defeated. The mayor was saved, I met Chester, and returned to Redmont.