I have a confession to make—I’ve never played a Ys game. Even after Xseed made its deal with Nihon Falcom, I never actually played any of Adol’s adventures. I even bought Ys: The Oath in Felghana on UMD, but life and other games kept getting in the way. Now, after playing The Oath in Felghana on the PC, I find it unfortunate that it took me this long to get around to it.
Hero, Adol Christin, and his sidekick/best friend, Dogi, have been busy the last few years, saving innocent people from dark forces. Now, they have a bit of free time to explore, which means it’s time to head back to Dogi’s hometown of Redmont, in Felghana, after being away for eight years. Naturally, this won’t be a peaceful visit. Moments after arriving, Adol and Dogi hear sounds of distress. A woman has been surrounded by wolf monsters. Adol runs again, and monsters swarm Dogi as well. Once everyone’s safe, the girl reveals herself to be Dogi’s childhood friend, Elena, and notes that things aren’t going well in Felghana. Monsters have been more aggressive and showing up more frequently than usual.
Not to mention people know Adol and Dogi are there. Bad people. You know, the ones who are behind all this trouble. The fact that Elena’s brother and Dogi’s other childhood friend, Chester, went missing about six months before is worrying as well. In fact, a day doesn’t even go by before Adol is called upon to head into the local mines to rescue Redmont’s mayor and the head minor from, you guessed it, more monsters. Adol and Dogi are involved already, so they may as well stay and confront Count McGuire about his mismanagement of the region and exterminate some of the more dangerous creatures lurking about.
The story of Ys: The Oath in Felghana follows most standard JRPG stereotypes, but I found it was a little more detailed than other games. NPCs are pretty interesting to talk to, even if you aren’t forced to talk to them. There are moments of levity, despite the serious tone that comes from the usual “a bad guy’s up to no good” situation shadowing over everyone. It uses the same fan translation from Jeff Nussbaum that Xseed purchased and did further work on to create a fantastic finished product. It’s well written and classic, the kind of story where you kind of know what’s coming, but you don’t mind because it does such a good job of leading you to the final resolution.
Ys: The Oath in Felghana is a pretty basic action RPG. Enemies appear on the map and Adol must run up and attack them in real time. You don’t have to worry about healing, as some enemies will drop herbs when defeated that instantly restore Adol. Your best bet is to run into a group of enemies and start whaling on them. This will create a combo that will chain together all the hits and attacks, resulting in extra bonuses to the Boost meter and temporary status bonuses. Keep an eye on that Boost meter, as you’ll want to use it when necessary to make Adol stronger and faster, with regenerating help. (It’s smart to save those up for boss battles.) Just remember to watch the shadows of flying enemies and be ready to tap the jump button. They’re the hardest to take down when you’re starting out simply because most of the other games just involve button mashing the attack button while ramming through them.
I was surprised by how well the mouse and keyboard controls go together in Ys: The Oath in Felghana. I actually found it more comfortable than using a controller. You can choose to have the mouse move Adol and make him jump, using Z for attacks. If you don’t like using the mouse, the up, down, left and right keys can be used. Of course, if you have a controller you can just plug that in and use it as well. If you don’t, then don’t worry as the keyboard and mouse controls work just as well.
Another PC perk are the visuals. The Ys: The Oath in Felghana PSP videos and screenshots always looked good, but there’s just something about seeing it on a big screen. I was actually in awe of Redmont after first arriving, and spent about 15 minutes just roaming the streets of the town, looking at the buildings and enjoying the overall ambiance. Even battles are gorgeous, though they’re so fast paced that you can’t take a moment to pause and marvel at the details. Everything just seems so vibrant.
There’s another bonus to playing Ys: The Oath in Felghana on a PC: It sounds great. I think we all know the PSP speakers are pretty lacking and even if you use headphones, you aren’t really experiencing the music at it’s best. When playing it on a computer, the excellent score sounds even more extraordinary. Whether it was with mediocre laptop speakers or a set of real speakers, it was easy to just forget about actually playing and instead just leave Ys running to provide a soundtrack for whatever else I was doing.
With Ys: The Oath in Felghana being as good as it is, I’m sure a lot of people would want to go back for a replay after a while just because it tells a fantastic story and looks great on their computers. The prospect is even more inviting in this case due to all the unlockables. You can unlock a Boss Rush mode, New Game+ and the Hard, Inferno and Nightmare difficulty levels, as well as some extra boss fights if you complete Boss Rush mode and certain difficulty levels.
For me, personally, the PSP version of Ys: The Oath in Felghana can’t compare to playing on a big screen with better speakers. That said, The Oath in Felghana is a great game, whether you play it on the go or comfortably at your desk, and it’s nice that people now have the option to do either.
Food for Thought
1. While you get tons of save slots, you can’t save anywhere. Save statues do come up pretty frequently.
2. Difficult levels include Very Easy, Easy, Normal, Hard, Nightmare and Inferno. If you’ve never played a Ys game before, I recommend starting on Very Easy or Easy.
3. Steam achievements have been added, as well as a leaderboard and Steam Cloud save support, in case you’re wondering.
4. There’s no voice acting.
5. There are achievements to earn and a leaderboard to place on, if you care about that kind of thing.
6. Dogi absolutely steels the show in every scene he appears in. He’s wonderfully written and it’s great to see how his old friends interact with him.
7. The text listing the bonus effects you’ve accrued is a little small and easy to overlook. It’s nothing to be too concerned about, but just don’t get distracted looking to see what effects are in play.