The Ys series is old, having started back in 1987. One of the first action-oriented JRPGs, and one of the few series that still sticks around today. There's a reason for that, it's a series that has evolved over time without losing it's roots. It's still all about running around, killing monsters, growing stronger, finding key items and fighting challenging bosses.
In that, it's pretty much a cousin to the Legend of Zelda.
It does have it's own style of combat, and it's own setting (generic by today's standards, but when the series was new it was one that helped build the stereotypes) and each entry tends to have it's own twists and tricks.
This is one of the later entries to the series, and uses 3d environments with good-looking 2d spritework for the characters. It mostly sticks to overhead view, but there's sections that twist the viewpoint along the way.
story-wise it's the prequel to the story. As such, the mainstay hero swordsman Adol is nowhere in sight yet, and instead you have 2 playable characters with their unique playstyle (with a 3rd one to unlock).
Each character has a different playstyle, and gets different special skills to use.
- Game provides a good challenge on Normal difficulty, ramping up quickly but smoothly. Easier & harder difficulties are also available.
- Bosses are memorable, with fairly tricky attack patterns at times (and mostly references to the bosses from earlier games in the series)
- The playable characters do handle completely different, adding replayability
- Crisp high-res artwork, holding up well today even though the original Japanese version of the game dates back to 2006
- Pretty cool soundtrack
- One of the playable characters is a non-sexualized, non-stereotypical female protagonist. That seems to be a big deal in this day and age so I'll list it as a pro.
- Plenty of customization options. (if using a gamepad, you will want to remap the pause/menu button though - for some sillt reason it's not mapped to start button by default)
- Solid controls
- Update: Unlockable bonus modes, with leaderboards and all, which start unlocking once you complete the game
- While good-looking, there isn't that much variety in the different environments you'll run through
- There's a couple of weird things, like a key equipable item not being in the equipment screen, but tucked away in between the usable items instead.
- No auto-saving. This being an old-school game it uses a savepoint mechanism, which works well. What's weird is that savepoints do work as checkpoints when you die, but don't auto-save to an actual save game.
- Non-skippable cutscenes. Which is annoying if you want to start a new game but can't skip the minutes-long opening movie to get into the action. Update: At least the long animated scenes become skippable after you complete the game once. So it's mostly annoying if (like me) you want to try both initial characters without beating the game first.