Ys Seven is the seventh game in the popular Ys franchise, released for the PSP back in 2010. Why am I reviewing a seven year old game? Because I haven’t played it before and nobody says I can’t, that’s why! …oh, and there’s a new PC release with enhanced graphics out now on Steam.
The Ys series is a long running action RPG series, and as far as plots go, Ys Seven is nothing new. You’ve got your strange happenings, shrines that empower the chosen main character with special abilities, and adventures around the world to solve the mystery behind the latest developments. You’ve got monsters rising up, the forces of nature being out of whack, and corrupt governments. Nothing particularly new on this front.
The localization team clearly had some fun with this title however. The writing is well done and I often found myself making circuits through the town after every major story element to check what new things the townsfolk had to say. The tone is generally light and mildly humorous, and it’s not afraid to throw the occasional corny joke into the mix.
If you’re looking for shocking twists and grand storytelling… this probably isn’t the game for that. This is more about the smaller stories, exploring this world, talking to its inhabitants, and battling its monsters. All the little things that make an RPG fun.
Rumble and Roll
While the series has changed a fair bit in the 30 years it’s been around, one core element has always been enjoyable combat, and this entry is no different. The controls are fairly simple, primarily just using the control stick to move and two buttons: attack and dodge. There’s also up to 4 special moves you can set, and an EXTRA move you can build up a gauge to use, but they largely don’t play into strategy and are essentially an extension of attack.
As you face enemies, an important consideration is picking the right character to control. Every character has a weapon type they specialize in, with certain enemies being weaker to certain types. Soft enemies need slashing weapons, armored enemies need strike weapons, and flying enemies need piercing weapons. Learning to switch quickly to who you need and knowing how they all attack forms the core of your offense.
As for your defense, you have a dodge roll, and quite the impressive one at that. The enemies use powerful moves, and trading blows will not work on anything but the weakest of foes. To stay alive, one needs to recognize the tells each enemy has, and dodge accordingly.
Between the two, combat becomes a frantic dance of dashing in to get a good few hits in, dodging the enemy’s counterattack, and repeating. You need to constantly pay attention to enemy tells and there’s always buttons to mash, but the game avoids being overly punishing if you mess up as well. Overall, the fighting manages to be genuinely entertaining, and the few times I’ve felt compelled to grind, it felt like a game rather than a chore.
The art direction is simply beautiful. The land of Altago is bright and colorful, the low-poly models are covered in detailed textures, and important NPC conversations and menus are given gorgeous anime-style character portraits.
The music as well is quite hummable and hits a wide variety of styles, from the industrial sounds of Captain Raud’s theme “Loud,” to the melancholy violins of Old Town’s “Children in the Shadows,” or even the fast beats of… well, just about any overworld theme.
It’s a seven year-old game, make no mistake about it, but it does a lot with the resources it has available.
PC Performance Perks
This review is specifically for the new PC port rather than the old PSP release, so let’s dive into that. This port in particular offers a new localization and improved graphics. While the resolution and framerate are certainly higher than the PSP version, the presentation still retains the styles of a past era. If you’re looking to play an older style game and have nostalgia for the lower poly count and simpler designs of the time, this game puts a fresh coat of polish on that nostalgic design.
Other perks are, of course, the usability options of playing with modern PC controllers, a variety of window options, and integration with Steam for juicy juicy achievements. They’re not without their flaws however, such as a few messages in the tutorial that gave the wrong prompt when playing with an Xbox 360 controller. These minor issues aside, it’s overall an improvement over the earlier edition.
A Refreshing Re-release
Overall, Ys Seven for the PC takes a great game from the PSP library, polishes it up, and places it on a more modern and accessible platform. If you’ve not played this game before, it proves to be an enjoyable action RPG, even if you’ve not played the earlier games in the series. For those who have played the PSP version, however, this new edition adds nothing new of note and can probably be passed over.
~Final Score: 7/10~
Review copy and screenshots provided by XSeed.