Well here we are a few days into June 2012, and the gaming year couldn't be going better.. E3 is in full swing, with publishers announcing their latest and greatest titles. However quite frankly I'm finding myself distracted from all the excitement. Why, do you ask? It's because I have found my personal Game of The Year, and I don't think anything else that could come out right now could possibly top it. You can take your Diablos, your Modern Warfares, your Max Paynes, and you can file them all away for some other time and place. I'm too busy saving the ancient land of Ys from demonic hordes hellbent on the destruction of humanity!
It has been a mere three months since XSEED made their Steam debut with the smash hit Ys: The Oath in Felghana. In that short time their crack squad of programming gurus and translation wizards have been working overtime to bring us more Ys goodness, and this time they've takes us back to the beginning with Ys Origin. This entry in the series is actually a prequel, taking place 700 years before the events of the first Ys games. This of course means that Adol Christin has to sit this round out, however do not despair! This time around we have THREE playable characters to fill out the roster, and each of them brings their own story and unique gameplay style to the table.
If you have played a Ys game before (and I'm sure you have) then you should feel right at home with Yunica Tovah, our first playable character. She's a tough but compassionate young girl who has dedicated her life to protecting the goddesses. Do not underestimate her abilities because although she cannot use magic, she can swing around a massive battle axe as if it were a feather duster. Players new to the series should start with Yunica, as she is very easy to handle in combat. Once players feel comfortable they can tackle Hugo Fact, a magic user who plays out like a bullet hell shooter. The third (and secret) character will unlock once you finish the game as either Yunica or Hugo, and suffice it to say he's only for experienced players.
Of course it would not be an Ys game if it didn't have big badass boss fights, and Ys Origin delivers in spades! As usual each boss has it's weak point and a pattern that you can exploit, and half the fun is figuring out how! Unlike other games that have impossibly punishing bosses, in Ys Origin if you're dying frequently you can simply level up and try again. Also be sure to check out the upgrade menu at save points, though they may seem minor, the right enhancement can save your life. Also be on the lookout for rare cleria ore, as it can be used to temper your weapons.
The music and graphics are of course as stunning as you would expect from a series of such a high caliber as Ys. From the stirring violin strains of the opening theme which give way to choral chants and guitar riffs, you can guess from just that track alone that the soundtrack is something special. And it truly is, with a wildly diverse soundscape of orchestral music inlaid with the finest hair metal that Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. has to offer. Just ad rich are the gorgeously rendered 3d backgrounds and lush sprites that make up the visuals.
After you finish the main quest in Ys Origin there's still plenty to do. A host of unlockables including Time Attack, Boss Rush, and Arena modes round out the package, offering hours of gameplay beyond the main story. If you yearn for an epic story with brutal bosses, complex character development, and a truly hardcore soundtrack, look no further than Ys Origin. Newcomers will find an engaging start to a new series, and Ys veterans will find plenty of references to their beloved series, and even answers to some burning questions that they may have. At a solid asking price of $20, Ys Origin is an unbeatable value. Pick it up today!