Ys: The Oath in Felghana is a rare beast on the PC... well it is to me. Before I broke down and bought it I stared at its gameplay video in steam. I stalked the title for months on end. I was delighted to see a JRPG on Steam. Would my delight be broken, or would I take the oath and never look back?
First off I must say I played this game to completion with a gamepad. I never even once tested out the keyboard ad mouse controls. This type of game just screamed use a controller to me haha. The game controls perfectly with a gamepad. Every little command I used worked, and never were the controls broken. A++ on that.
Sound design in Ys is all about the music. The sound effects are very basic and serve the game well, but do not stand out at all. The musical score on the other hand does stand out. Each piece was moving, and the guitar driven battle themes fit perfectly. Never once did I feel like I wanted to put on my own soundtrack while playing the game. If it's any testament to the games music, I would even go into the options menu just to play the games soundtrack a few occasions.
The story of the game is its weakest area. The game uses nearly every JRPG trope. I knew of every upcoming plot twist and action. This made me really sad as someone who enjoys a good narrative. I must admit though that not once did the narrative become convoluted. It served its purpous rather well, and that was to transition from dungeon to dungeon and the awesomely addicting gameplay.
The gameplay of Ys is where it's at. A simple mixture of semi strategic hack n slash with a dabble of platforming and RPG light elements. Combat is fast, fluid and when you get hit it's ultimately you're fault. The game doesn't offer that much in terms of different combos. You can perform only basic ground and air combos. You can't knock an enemy into the air and combo them further. What you can do is cancel combos to get in more hits. There are 3 magic in the game, but playing on normal I didn't find much use for them. The most useful if magics is the earth dash as it nullifies enemy attacks. Once you get this magic it'll be you're go to magic. This is because the game doesn't feature a shield or dodge roll which some may find annoying, but I understood it as part of the game.
Level design is simplistic and yet very well done. That being said, there are a few areas where you can enter a new screen keep holding the same direction, and move yourself back into the previous area. It's a personal annoyance to me. These areas are few and far between so it's not that big of a deal. The platforming segents mainly located towards the end of the game are well thought out. I initially believed I was going to have trouble with them until I realised your character shadow does appear on the ground. This way you could at least tell where you might land. For people who fear platforming there is a mode in options to make it even easier, and even at that there no fall related deaths in the game.
The bosses are where the game really shines. Each boss fight presents a new challenge and build upon eachother as the game progresses. You're first time playing the game the bosses will kick your ♥♥♥, unless you're an uber-gamer, don't get discouraged. Their attacks hit hard, and require precise timing to dodge. There is also limited time to hit the bosses. That window becomes less and less as the game goes on forcing you to get better with your attack dodging. This type of progression is saught after by me, because no matter how much someone could power level, you still need the skill to back it up. Speaking of leveling in this game, I didn't have to grind more than one time, and the combat is so fluid and fun it didn't even feel like grinding and lasted all of thirty minutes anyways.
Ys: The Oath in Felghana isn't an expierence I'll soon forget. Nearly all elements of the game blend harmoniously into a polished hidden gem just waiting to be stumbled upon. I thought I was risking $15 paying full price for the game, but my apprehension was laid to rest quickly.
Posted: November 25th, 2013