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Ys: The Oath in Felghana
Mar 21, 2012
Republished from Rock, Paper Shotgun
Currently doing rather well for itself on the Steam bestsellers chart, XSEED's milk-eyed JRPG Ys: The Oath In Felghana has been recommended to me by various corners of the internet. If you can stand to hear me harp on for a moment, I can tell you a little about it. A little? Well, I only played about 60 minutes of it, but have one hour on me.
For the first fifteen minutes, I screamed. It's all cutscene all the way, as boring cutsey pixel-people say boring things about something I couldn't give the faintest hoot about. I clicked and I hammered and I slammed and the talking just would not stop. With the game lacking an imaginative setting or an obvious hook, I was mere moments away from writing a post which may well have quite literally read SCREW YOU YS YOU'RE EVERYTHING THAT'S WRONG WITH GAMING. Then, finally, it relented. I was in.
It turned out to be a surprisingly wild time, and at odds with the increasingly negative preconceptions I'd developed during the waffly crap in the intro. An action-RPG requiring high-velocity death-dealing with a combination of sword and spell, it was exciting, it had a wonderfully silly soundtrack (Andrew WK let loose with a MIDI system, essentially) and a whole lot of things died at my hands incredibly quickly. I felt like a tiny god with a ridiculous haircut, and lo it was good.
Well, until I hit an irksome boss that required precisely-timed jumps and mastery of a finicking spell-aiming system to defeat (checking the setting that interprets analogue commands as digital is a must if you're using a gamepad, which is also a must). I was fourth time lucky in defeating it, but I knew didn't have the will to press on with something that would so casually interrupt joyful, high-speed monster-bashing. But the monster bashing that led up to that is indeed joyful and high-speed, a sort of lunatic take on Zelda or stuff like Chantelise and Fortune Summoners. I can totally see why it's garnering so much attention and it had a playfulness that's lacking in most Western action-RPGs.
It's fairly pretty too, a fusion of 3D environments and sprites and a large-ish hub city to wander around picking up new gear and, when scripting permits, quests, but while I dig the frenzy of it the tedious conversations and flow-wrecking boss fights mean it isn't ultimately something I want to persevere with. Which isn't a dismissal of the genre, just an honest admission that I get my happyfuntimes elsewhere. This certainly seems to sidestep many of JRPGs' tropes in favour of something more agreeably frenzied, so I can see the appeal and if I didn't have enough games to break a battleship's back stretching ahead of me, I suspect I'd give it more time.
Here's a trailer for you.
Alec Meer is a writer for Rock Paper Shotgun,
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Republished with permission.