Sup. Let’s talk about vidya games.
So a friend of mine bought me both Ys: Origin and Ys: The Oath in Felghana recently on Steam, and having finished Fourze and deciding I needed to not spend all my time fansubbing, I figured it’d be a good time to jump in and bust out some of my Steam backlog, which led to trying out Oath in Felghana.
Now, lemme clarify by saying I had no clue what I was getting into before I started other than “a JRPG.” Ys (that’s pronounced ‘Eas’ as in ‘East’, for the unaware) is one of those long-running Japanese game series that seems incredibly intimidating to someone unfamiliar with it, but having been reasonably assured I could basically jump in anywhere, off we went into Oath in Felghana.
So uh, okay. Silent semi-pretty boy knight protagonist, burly companion, hero visits some island where his companion grew up in search of adventure and meets generic demure meek JRPG heroine and OH NO THERE ARE MONSTERS. Great, okay. I know what to do here.
Oh hey, wait, this is an action RPG? …Wow, this attack speed. Oh my god I am just cutting wolves into pieces OH MY GOD I AM A WHIRLING DERVISH BEGONE ALL THAT STANDS IN MY WAY I AM THE ENDER OF FUCKING WORLDS
This game’s fucking battle system JESUS CHRIST it is so good. It’s totally seamless, you just run around hacking and slashing the fuck out of dudes and it’s glorious. It’s so tactile, intuitive, and you just run around slashing shit and jumping around and OH MY GOD THIS PLATFORMING IS REALLY GOOD and the levels are well designed and the experience curve is great so there’s not much grinding but at the same time one level can make a huge amount of difference even at the endgame and the balance is really good and it encourages exploring in a way that’s really nice and not too condescending to the player and the boss battles are the perfect blend of being really difficult but having a pattern you can learn, analyze, predict and get better at in a way that you go from feeling completely fucked to absolutely amazing within the few retries (that load you right back at the boss room wahey!) it takes to get used to the boss, and never feels truly cheap and WHY IS THIS GAME SO GODDAMN GOOD
It’s a nice length for a little Steam game too – took me about 7 hours to do most of everything (This game does suffer from that awful JRPG cliche of easily missable time-limited sidequests that you have no idea or hint are even occurring, but that’s easily forgiven) and all of it was fun. The game can be really tense, with no way to heal other than save points and enemies dropping little HP pickups, save points are sparse, but pretty early in the game you get the ability to warp to ANY SAVE POINT IN THE GAME YOU’VE VISITED FROM ANYWHERE (that is so goddamn good) and the enemies and areas are designed in a way that while the combat can feel mashy just in terms of how quickly and potently you attack, you really have to fight intelligently to survive in a dungeon.
Plot-wise it’s pretty happy to just stick to acting out every JRPG cliche of moody emo backstories and ancient prophecies and sealed evils and chosen ones and THE REAL MASTERMIND BEHIND IT ALL yada yada, but I found it pretty fun and engaging despite that. It managed to surprise me a few times, and the pacing is nice, with the game not making it’s inevitable McGuffin hunt take twenty years like some RPGs do.
All in all, this was a lot of fun, and left me with that kind of empty “Now what do I do?” feeling that a lot of much longer, more emotionally-engrossing RPGs do despite being so short. I can’t recommend it enough, and while it would seem like an asshole move to say “It’s good value for money!” when I was given it as a gift, this game fucking owns and you need to play it. If you’re not completely satisfied by the time you’re cutting chunks out of the middle of Volvagia’s long-lost cousin then you’re a soulless human being and don’t deserve to live.
Also you get to play death tennis with the game world’s equivalent of Satan, which is always pretty cool.