Ys: Memories of Celceta Review

Title: Ys: Memories of Celceta
Developer: XSEED / Falcom
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 799 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail

EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail

I think about all of the games I could start this site with.  I cannot think of anything better than the Vita’s new Action-RPG, Ys: Memories of Celceta.

Ys, pronounced “ees” rather than “why-z” is a franchise that has been around for a long time, but has never been an overly popular franchise. It always had a userbase, but didn’t really start to gain traction until last generation, when games in the series came out on the Sony PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS. Once Falcom and XSEED localized and made the seventh entry in the series, Ys Seven, it really started to soar.

What Ys is, is an Action RPG franchise that have you traveling around a big overworld collecting allies and going through dungeons, not unlike Zelda. In fact, the first two games in the series have a series Legend of Zelda feel, especially with how dungeon exploration progresses. Despite the fact that Zelda isn’t an RPG franchise, it is a pretty good comparison. At least, without all of the RPG customization that Ys has shown in it’s games. Anyways, getting off topic. Onto the review.

Ys: Memories of Celceta, a re-imagining of Ys IV, has finally released on the PlayStation Vita and brought a new entry to the Vita’s history of JRPGs. Has it brought a worthy game both to the Vita and the Ys franchise? Let’s dive into what the game is all about.

~Story~

The plot of Ys: Memories of Celceta revolves around Adol Christin, as all of the Ys games do, two years after he left his childhood home to explore the world. From the get-go, we find out that he had entered the Forest of Celceta, an immense and magical forest from which no one has ever returned. He emerges with no memories of what happened there or even who he is.

Along with his pal Duren, he sets back into the forest to reclaim his lost memories, along with discovering the origins of the land of Celceta and meeting many people along the way. He discovers villages, magic, and even gods.

Story has never been the strongest point of the series, but for what it is, it’s a well-written story. Each of the characters you encounter show their own emotional ties, personal histories, and most do it well. I found myself falling in love with nearly all of the characters and wanting to know more about each of them as you find them.

Overall, once it gets going, the plot is good. Not amazing, but still good.

~Gameplay~

The first thing I will talk about is length. It’s something a lot of people like. At the end of my first run through the game, having done a fair amount of side material, but nowhere near all of it, my save file was at 26 hours. Had I done the rest of the side-quests on that file to get 100% completion, I imagine the file would have ended up being about 30-32 hours, given how much I had left to do. So, if you want length, then there’s 30 hours of gameplay here, along with more in New Game + and other unlockable modes.

Gameplay is what makes Ys so appealing. The series has always been about gameplay and the battle system, above all. When one thinks of Ys, they think of fast-paced action and giant, massive boss fights. Memories of Celceta definitely has all of that and more.

Throughout the game, you will be traveling around the world, exploring and mapping out the Forest of Celceta. This will have you running through 3D areas with the camera up at an angle above the characters to give you a good view of the area. Other than the Forest, you also visit many towns and settlements throughout the game.

At each of these towns, there are several different buildings that house things you can do. There will always be story segments, but also other things you can do. Each town has an item shop where you can buy potions and the like, and an equipment shop where you can buy new weapons and armor. But there are also other shops that do other things. For example, one type of shop allows you to refine materials and apply them to your weapons and armor to make them more powerful. There is also one building in each town with a Quest board, allowing you to do quests for the residents, such as slaying monsters, collecting materials, or working for them for awhile.

An important part of the game is finding Memories in the Forest. Every so often, you will be near one of Adol’s hidden memories. This will distort the screen, like interference on an old television and the closer you get to the memory, the worse it will get, until a bright orb of light appears on the screen. You approach this and will gain access and watch a memory. These are important as they add explanation to the story of the game.

Through each area, there are various things to do, other than exploring. Each area has monsters to fight, materials to obtain from Resource Points, Treasure Chests to open, and Teleport Stones to activate. Materials are used for Quests and Weapon Refinement, so it’s important to always stock up on all of that. And Teleport Stones are an important means of transportation. The forest is huge, so whenever you find a teleport stone, you can use it to teleport to any other of the same color that’s been unlocked.

Battles have a very Hack n Slash feel to them, though they’re not all able to be used with Button-Mashing techniques. There are Skills and Attack Types that must be taken into account when fighting enemies. You can dodge and guard, though guarding may do damage to your character, and it does more damage depending on your difficulty.

Skills are special abilities and attacks characters can perform that use up Skill Points, or SP. Each time you use a Skill, SP is drained from your total. To gain back SP, you simply attack enemies with physical attacks. You can also wait a few seconds without attacking and you will see a sphere of energy around the character. When you attack like this, you will get a much larger amount of SP to recharge to use more skills. Another way to earn SP is to Flash Guard or Flash Move, which is when you guard or dodge at the exact moment an enemy attacks.

Skills are achieved and gained through leveling your characters as well as using skills in combat. They can do various things, from powering up your parties Attack, or sending an orb of light chasing after your enemies. You will learn new skills as the game progresses and be able to master each of those skills by getting so many hits and kills with each skill so it will level up. Each time a skill levels up, it gets stronger, and its animation can change and it can cover more distance.

The strongest kind of Skill in an EXTRA Skill. There is a yellow gauge that fills up each time you land Skill attacks and when it’s filled up, you can trigger an Extra Skill, which is basically your character’s Ultimate Attack, like a Limit Break or something similar.

Attack Types dictate what type of character you need to use against certain enemies. Enemies have weaknesses in the form of Attack Types. There are three types. Strike, Pierce, and Smash. Each character has a different attack type, so you will need to know which characters do what to know what characters to use against certain enemies.

Each character is part of what makes the game so much fun. There are six playable characters in total, and each fight different and with different types of weapons. Adol is a Swordsman, Duren fights with knuckles and Gauntlets, and the characters you pick fight with Throwing Knives, Spears, Maces, and Axes. There is a lot of variety to everyone’s moveset and that makes it a lot of fun to explore each character’s skills, range, and abilities.

As I said earlier, you can level up. As with traditional RPGs, defeated monsters and enemies will net you experience points, money, and items/materials. There is a level of Experience-Sharing in this game, which makes things easier. You have six playable characters, but can only use three at any given time. So, the game compensates by giving everyone experience, whether they were in battle or not.

Aside from this, you will also need to look out for Treasure Chests and Artifacts. Artifacts are magic-infused Key Items that help you get past obstacles. Think of them as Key Items to progress, like you need specific items in The Legend of Zelda to get through dungeons. There are many different types. One, for example, shrinks you down to a tiny size to access small passages, and another allows you to break rocks and other natural objects obstructing paths.

I think I’ll bring this section to a close, as it’s been overly lengthy already. The gameplay is a lot of fun and the battle system is what drives the game forward.

~Controls~

The controls for this game are fairly simple. First of all is movement and camera movement. The D-Pad and/or Left Analog Stick move your characters around the world. Camera movement, however, isn’t as you would expect from other 3D games. The camera is fixed at an angle above you, so you can’t turn it or anything. What you can do is zoom in and out by using the Touch Screen. Pinch in to zoom in, and out to zoom out.

The forced touch controls do not end with camera movement. There is also a small Item section near your HP bar, and you tap that to access your Artifacts if you want to use the Dwarf Gloves to go through a small passage or activate the Gale Boots to dash and scale steep angles. There are also two more touch controls. One is the Area Map. You can tap on the map in the top-right corner of the screen to open a map of just the area you’re in. And the final bit is combat-based. You can move your fingers in from the sides and out from the middle of the Rear Touch Panel to alternate your AI Party Members’ attack strategies, between them attacking and them evading.

The Start button brings up the Camp Menu, which is basically the main menu, where you can customize your skills, equipment, save and load game files, Memories and your Journal (Records, Quests, Story summary, etc). You can also check your Party Ability here, which is an extra ability depending on who’s in your party. The Select button brings up the World Map.

The face buttons are primarily used in battle. The X button serves as the dodge button, allowing you to dodge away from enemy attacks. The Square button lets you attack, the Triangle for guarding against incoming attacks, and the Circle button for switching control between Party Members. These are also used for skills. You can equip a skill to each face button and unleash it by holding down the R button and pressing the face button associated with it.

Finally, the L button unleashes your character’s Extra Skill when the Extra Gauge is fully charged.

The controls are not hard to get used to, though sometimes it’s tricky trying to get the skills to work. I’ve had many cases where I didn’t have R pressed down all the way and skills didn’t work. That is my only complaint with the control scheme and it’s a little weird getting used to using the touch screen for artifacts.

They take a little bit of time to get used to, but once you do get used to them, everything seems natural.

~Presentation~

The visuals of Ys: Memories Celceta is not one of the Vita’s most graphically impressive. Though it’s not the best, it is still good and pretty. The character models in the game are very detailed and the effects are very flashy and fluid. However, if you zoom into the closest level and look closely, there are some jagged edges on the character models. Granted, you don’t usually notice them unless you are looking for them, but they are there, in small bits.

The one thing some people don’t like about the game are the load times. The load times for loading different areas is pretty random. Some areas could take two seconds to load, while another takes five or six seconds. I think the longest I’ve ever had to wait is about six or seven seconds for a town to load when I was exiting a shop in that town. These load times do not bother me at all, but could bother some.

Another nitpick with people is the amount of Voice-Acting. In battle, everyone talks, grunts, and does everything else you would in the middle of a fight, but in cutscenes, voices take second place to text. Characters will talk fluidly every so often, but most of the dialogue is text-only. This turned away some people to the presentation, whom would have preferred voice acting throughout the entire game instead of every so often. Again, this doesn’t bother me any, but it does bother some.

As far as sound and music are concerned, the game excels, as the previous entries of the series has. Every area has different varieties of music that plays in the background, from intense battle music for the giant boss fights to calm music when in a village on the river. Ys never ceases to amaze in it’s soundtracks, and I have had the boss battle theme stuck in my head for quite awhile now.

~Replayability~

Here’s the big thing. Past the thirty hours of gameplay, is there any incentive to do a New Game? Well, we do have a New Game Plus feature. What this does is it allows you do load a Cleared save file and retains almost everything into the next playthrough. You retain items, equipment, skills, and even character levels. So, if you hit the level cap of 60 before beating the game, you will start your next run at Level 60, with the majority of your equipment.

The Nightmare Difficulty also unlocks once you beat the game, so you may also wish to challenge yourself with that. The first time I used a New Game Plus with Nightmare, I tried fighting the first boss of the game and had a bit of trouble.

Another thing that opens up is Time Attack and Boss Rush Mode. These are accessible from the Memories menu. They allow you to re-challenge the bosses of the game, whether all at once or one at a time to see how quickly you can take one down, or fight them one after another without reprieve.

So, yes, there is a good amount of incentive to do New Game Plus.

~Overall~

Overall, Ys is a fun and thrilling JRPG to fill up a sizeable amount of your time and a worthy addition to the Vita’s RPG library. The Vita doesn’t have anything like this, outside of the Ys PSP Games available on PSN, and it is the most fun I’ve had in a Vita RPG since the release of Persona 4: Golden. The game does stumble a bit with the lack of voice acting, the load times, and parts of the plot, but the combat system alone makes this a fun experience.

If you’re an RPG fan, I would definitely suggest you pick the game up.

I would rate Ys: Memories of Celceta an 8/10

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3 comments

  1. I bought this at launch, have put around 12 hours or so into it, but its just not grabbing me. To be honest, as much as people rip on them, I’m liking Ragnarok Odyssey and Valhalla Knights 3better

  2. Thanks for the review. I’m excited to hear its around 26 hours (more and more difficult to invest 60 in a game like I used to… and if I choose to, there’s always new game+ 😉 ) and that experience is shared with those not in battle! So often in an RPG I’d play around with the versatility in the game more but it’d be like going back to the drawing board to get some support characters up to snuff. Like in Ni no Kuni, I think I picked some familiars and stuck with them through the whole story since they were leveling up.

    Cheers!

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