While Ys: Memories of Celceta is the latest entry in the game and features an all new story, it’s still something you could call a remake. There were two entries which took the name of Ys: 4 in the past, however both were outsourced to external companies and (to a degree) conflicted with the overall timeline of the series. Because of this, Falcom created their own fourth title in the series with Memories of Celceta – and we’ve taken a close look to see what they’ve come up with.
There are a few things almost all Ys games have in common, the big two being some epic music and the main character. Adol Christin is a young man with a zest for adventure and an uncanny knack for being in the right place at the right time (or the wrong place, depending on how you look at it). In the beginning of the game, he wakes up with amnesia; his memories lost and his energy sapped. He stumbles into town and is beat down by a random stranger, collapsing to the ground. The local pub owner takes you in and while you’re inside a friend from Adol’s past named comes to his rescue. This friend reintroduces himself as Duren, and before long they’re getting along just like old friends would. In conversation, it’s revealed that the last Duren had heard, Adol was venturing into the forest of Celceta; an area from which nobody has ever returned from once entering. The question therefore arises; how did our red-headed protagonist pull off the impossible and what caused him to lose his memories? These are the questions the two friends ponder as a tremor starts outside of the pub; their curiosity leading them outside and towards the origin – the local mine.
This is where your journey begins, as in the mine you’re introduced to monsters, swords, fights and partying up. You touch your first blue orb, which restores a memory of your past and informs you of your skills with a weapon. You team up with your first partner, fighting a battle in which you can switch party members at any time. You take out your first monsters and save your first villagers. In this dark mine you take your first step in regaining your memories – and your first step towards exploring the world.
On your travels you will most likely come across a bunch of the blue memory orbs you encountered prior to the battle tutorial in the mine, a static effect on screen indicating they’re nearby (unless you’ve gotten far enough to reveal a bunch, which happens at certain “checkpoints” throughout the game). Only Adol can initiate contact with the memory orbs, and as such the indicator will only be white for him.
There are also other actions you will need to perform on your travels which use the same indicator system, including locked chests, ropes to cut, walls to break and more. Each requires its own character to activate and the result is usually used to further yourself in the game.
Skill attacks are learned through battling, their power and your range of skills increasing as you progress and use them. Each character you add to your party has a total of ten skills, with Adol having twelve – and each skill has three levels which require various amounts of use to unlock. You can check your skill progression through the skills section of the menu as well as other varying attributes of the skills to best cover all your bases – seeing as how you can only enable four at a time. I’d also advise not using all high-end skills, as they require more stamina points to use and will run your meter down quicker. There’s definitely a strategy for setting up your character and this is where most of it lies.
This isn’t all there is to the battle system though, as there are several bonuses that are rewarded to you for certain kill types. These bonuses are based around aerial combos, skill finishes, and excellent kills – each having its own unique rewards for pulling them off.
In boss fights is where the game begins to shine; the combat aspect gets a whole new level of difficulty as simple button mashing won’t get you very far. You’ll need skill, proper experience (a single level can make all the difference sometimes) and a good weapon to cut your way through the bosses – a welcome amount of difficulty considering a lot of ARPGs are too easily exploitable. You have to study the enemy, so don’t be ashamed if one of the later bosses kills you a few times – it’s all part of learning curve.
This game features a very fast and fluid combat system which rivals many other games of its type, giving you one of the best action experiences you can have on a Vita. Combat is reason enough to buy this game, but let’s move on to some of the other great aspects of this remake-cum-reboot.
Your main task next to collecting your memories is to map out the whole traversable area of the forest – and beyond. The forest is full of enemies that can (and will) kill you if you are insane enough to attack them. This is emphasized by the fact that even in the first area outside the town you wake up in (Casnan) you will see a big, ape-like monster with whom fighting would be a bad choice before getting some experience. This makes mapping some areas harder and gives a bit of a challenge no matter when you happen to pass through a region – yet another layer of depth to keep you interested.
In the forest you will also be introduced to the day and night system, which has an effect on the strength of the monsters that spawn. In these areas, there are also camp sites; areas in which you can recover health, have a dream and skip over the night (to stay safe from the stronger enemies). The day and night system only runs in certain areas though, so watch your HUD for changes.
Strange monuments litter the map in key locations, allowing you to save, heal and teleport between monuments of the same style when you encounter them. As soon as you see one, it would be advisable to save and make sure that you are ready though, seeing as how they tend to either mark that you’re entering a new area or are about to enter a boss fight.
Along with your regular tasks, there’s a set of non-story quests for you to earn some extra items or money through helping local non-player characters with their in-game issues. The quest system is run through buildings that deal with the community in each town, the bulletin board being where they’re listed. After reading the list of quests for the first time you can then accept quests from some of the non-player characters. Once accepted, you are given a time limit (which varies) and a task to complete. Completing tasks will get you rewards such as gold or useful items to aid you on your journey.
In the towns you can also buy items, armor and weapons; though not everything can simply be bought. A lot of weapons and other items in the game must be found (or crafted) and the battle system becomes a bit more extensive as you explore the ability to re-enforce and alter the properties of weapons and armor. Materials for crafting and enhancing weaponry and armor come from harvesting raw materials throughout the world, or synthesis through certain shops or merchants.
Fans of the series should have realized by now that you don’t necessarily play Ys for the story, though this one is actually done quite well. It keeps your attention and interest; driving you to play more to learn what happens next. Though it’s not as fleshed out as the stories in some other RPGs, it fits the game play style well and keeps a flow that leaves you glued to the screen. Also notable is the fact that you can respond as Adol in certain situations, choosing what you say and altering the conversation. Otherwise however, he’s silent – and the story unfolds as it may around him.
The control system works quite well and mostly uses the physical buttons, though some commands are doubled on the touch screen for ease of access. Simple attacks are executed with the square button, the strength of the attack depending on your level and chosen weapon. The left trigger activates a special attack if the circular gauge is filled will yellow liquid and the right trigger plus one of symbol buttons trigger one of the bound skill attacks (of which you can enable four). The “x” is a dashing move which is for avoiding attacks or quick movement. The triangle is the blocking move, which guards your character from damage. Both the triangle and “x” actions can be used as an attack is thrown at you, giving way to a flash move which can earn you points and give you an advantage for a short period of time. The circle is a character switching button, allowing you to switch between active party members at will.
Graphics in the game are good, but nothing fantastic; an anti-aliasing filter would have been more than welcome. That said, the graphics are done quite well for an RPG and blend properly into the overall setting – especially for their first real foray into 3D elements in a Ys title. One more thing about the graphics I want to mention are the character models, which seemed a notch above the rest of the game in quality and were much better than in previous iterations.
The music in Ys is amazing, but don’t take my word for it. The battle system is very fluid, and innovative; something rarely found in a modern action RPG title. The story pulls you in and the mystery and game-play elements keep you hooked; it’s no wonder I’m already anticipating the next entry in the series. Until then this one’s good enough for a few replays, and I’ll likely be doing just that some time in the future.
Do yourself a favor and go buy Ys: Memories of Celceta right now.