Thanks to DOTEMU for the review code
Title: Ys Origin
System: Playstation 4
Release Date: 02/21/2016
Taking place hundreds of years before Ys I-II, Ys Origin is the story of three characters who explore Darm Tower to rescue the Goddesses from an evil gang of demons, all while pursuing their own personal goals and dreams. Each of the three playable characters have their own stories, but only two are available from the beginning. The progression of the game will stay the same regardless of who you pick, but the way the story unfolds does change depending on the character that was chosen at the beginning.
Being an enhanced port of the 2006 PC original, Ys Origin has gained a few helpful upgrades to make it feel at home on modern televisions. While the cutscenes that are movie files (Such as the intro cutscene) are still in a 4:3 format, the actual game itself is presented in widescreen, which helps with the field of view tremendously. The 2D sprites also manage to hold up pretty well, although the same can’t be said for the 3D models of the boss enemies, which can clash quite a bit with the sprites almost to the point that it can be distracting.
And per Falcom tradition, the OST is fantastic, with Scars of the Divine Wing (The boss theme) quickly becoming one of my new favorites. Nearly every song in this game is fantastic, and the only real problem I’ve had with the audio has been an occasional glitch where background sound effects (like rushing water from a boss fight) would keep looping on end even if I backed out to the title screen, forcing me to shut the game off entirely to get it to stop. It seems these issues are already on the verge of getting patched out however, so this shouldn’t be too big of a problem for long.
While the first four Ys games played a lot like a mix between 2D Zelda titles and the Mystery Dungeon series, Ys V started the trend of making them less rogue-like and more focused on action and skill. With Ys Origin using the same engine as The Oath in Felghana, it should be no surprise that it plays rather similarly, with a hack-and-slash style of gameplay that rewards you for the occasional bit of exploration every now and then. What makes Ys Origin drastically different from other entries in the franchise, however is how the game is split into three separate campaigns.
By default, only Hugo and Yunica are available from the beginning, and their playstyles differ from each other. Hugo focuses almost entirely on projectile attacks, while Yunica and the third character use close-range weapons, similar to how Adol fought in Felghana. As was mentioned earlier, each of the three characters share the same general path up the tower, with the major differences coming from their playstyles and stories. Regardless of the character you select, defeating enemies and gathering up any SP/stat boosters they drop is the key to survival in this game, as you can spend SP on helpful upgrades at the many save statues in the game, while the stat boosters come in handy when fighting hordes of enemies at once.
When it comes to control, the game plays fine on a PS4 controller. There’s an option to turn on analog control, but I wouldn’t recommend it as I found it doesn’t work nicely with this game and I would often miss enemies when moving around with the left stick. Turning the option off to make it the traditional D-Pad on a stick worked out much better, and I felt that it offered a lot more precision than the analog movement.
The buttons also do a good job for most of the commands, although I found it incredibly annoying to use charge attacks, since they require briefly moving in one direction and attacking at the right time to use. From what I could find, there was no setting in the options menu to map the charge attack to a separate button, which was pretty disappointing since they come in handy during the difficult boss battles.
In conclusion, DotEmu did a great job at bringing this obscure entry to consoles, and for the most part the game made a smooth transition from PC to console. Outside of the annoyance with charged attacks and the lackluster analog movement, this game felt right at home on the PS4, and for the $20 pricetag I think it’s certainly worth a buy considering the amount of replay value that’ll come from the challenging trophy list and the multiple characters. That being said, if you’re on the fence and aren’t sure if a game of this kind would be engaging enough, then perhaps waiting for an inevitable sale would be a good idea. Still, if you’re a fan of the Ys series, I wouldn’t hesitate to check out this prequel. I give Ys Origin an 8 out of 10.