Following up on XSEED’s plan to bring over the Nihon Falcom’s Action RPG Ys games to Steam, we now have Ys Origin which acts as a prequel and sets up Adol’s journey in the later Ys games. Adol is not involved with the story this time, making it the first Ys title to not star the red-headed hero. Instead we are taken 700 years before Adol’s first adventure, to the… “origin” of stuff.
Ys Origin brings us to the Darm Tower, which was mentioned in the first Ys but you will not have to play it to understand this game. In this demonic tower, two characters with separate motives make their way up the tower to rescue the Twin Goddesses of Ys. You can choose to play either as the knight-in-training Yunica Tovah or prodigy magician Hugo Fact, both have their own separate full length campaigns.
Ys Origin is a linear game when compared to the other Ys titles as everything takes place in the tower. There are no towns and exploration is kept to a minimum. However, there is plenty of story to keep you engrossed, a lot of conversations that will entertain you, and plenty of things to kill.
To those that have played Ys: The Oath in Felghana will feel right at home with Yunica as she plays very identical to Adol. As an axe-wielding melee character, Yunica’s play style is very simple and can be considered as the go-to default character of the game.
Hugo Fact is what happens when you combine a Shoot’em Up and an Action RPG together. Hugo is a magician who shoots little beams from the orbs that float around him. Best to recommend finding a way to set up an auto-fire button as your hand is going to cramp up as you’re spamming lasers. Hugo’s lasers can be little rough to aim since there is no directional lock.
There is also a third character that is unlocked upon clearing the game and he is definitely worth the effort. Without spoiling the story, this character is melee orientated but has a heavy emphasis on speed. Completing it again with this character will unlock bonus modes that will let you use Adol, but only for those bonus modes. Nifty if you’re willing to go through the game multiple times.
What perhaps struck me as a little disheartening is how identical the campaigns are, especially for a fairly lengthy Action RPG. Each character does play differently and the story does change, but you’re going up the same tower fighting the same monsters and the almost same exact bosses. Ys Origin does encourage multiple playthroughs, and thankfully the characters are diverse enough that it makes each experience through the tower different per character. However, they are separate and progress made are independent of each other.
Repeated playthroughs would not be so bad if the tower featured some variety to mix up the blandness. As you go up, the scenery changes, but you’re still cooped up in a tower. There’s minor backtracking, but there’s plenty of stuck moments because you cannot find what you’re looking for. At least you will not have to search the whole world of an item stuck in some corner somewhere. Thankfully transporting between floors is easy given that you will be able to teleport to any save point in the game once activated.
Otherwise, going through each area with weapon in hand or lasers blazing is amazingly fun. Characters have access to special attacks that not only function as murdering devices but can also be used to find hidden paths or solving puzzles. Being creative with these attacks gives you a level of finesse that can really speed up the game. With that said, it is highly recommend playing Ys Origin with a game pad over the keyboard and mouse options.
The bosses are hard, even on the Normal difficulty setting. Retrying each boss fight after dying is just a button click away. If you manage to screw up and die, you can quickly jump back in with a fresh mind and hopefully a new strategy. Playing with a different character will need different strategies as well. Nonetheless dexterity will play a key role to winning as you will need to rely on next to no healing power ups to keep your health topped off. Challenging these bosses on a higher difficulty level will only serve to bring you a higher level of satisfaction and even pride when taking one down.
Ys, for the many years that it has existed, has largely gone unnoticed by the masses. Purchasing Ys Origin is the perfect way to forgive yourself for the fact that you have missed out on one of the best gems out of Japan. At a low price tag of $20 on Steam, unless you just do not fancy yourself an Action RPG, there is no reason to miss out on Ys Origin. Coupled with both this and Ys: The Oath in Felghana, you have yourself two great entries from the Ys series. Hell, you might as well buy that one too.