Hey folks, Valkor here. The dudes over at XSeed really know how to make us classic RPG lovers really… well happy. First (for me anyway) there was Lunar: Silver Star Harmony, and now we get to take a journey into the land of Ys, with Adol and Dogi's latest romp – Ys Seven. Ys Seven mixes a lot of old school gaming with some new school techniques and it's only on the Sony PSP. Let's we gotta give huge props to the folks at Falcom for returning to this world and bringing it all together for us players to enjoy.
Ys Seven revolves around Adol and Dogi, stars of past Ys games and transports the two into the world of Altago. There's a lot of strange things going on in this land such as monsters excessively attacking, even bigger monsters called Titanos coming from underground and attacking, the people of the land are plagued with an incurable disease known as Iskan fever, and the lands are wrought with earth quakes. At the request of the king of Altago, Adol and Dogi visit a shrine that rose up from one of the quakes, and while it was explored before… nothing was found. But when these two adventures step in and locate the shrine, a voice calls onto Adol stating that it is one of the Dragons of yore, telling him he the chosen one, giving Adol it's seal and a special power. This event leads the two on a journey to locate other Dragon shrines and find out how it's all connected. And what they discover is that the fate of the entire planet is at stake.
But the dynamic duo aren't alone as other characters will join in to assist in the quest to save the planet such as Geis, Adol's rival from the past, Aisha Princess of Altago, Mustafa the Elder of Segram, Mishera eldress of Kylos, Elk a young warrior from the forest village of Shannoa, and Cruxie, Mustafa's younger sister. Each character brings different skills and abilities to assist in battle. As an action RPG you'll be able to control up to three character at any given time, plus swap them out when needed (but not during boss battles). Combat is easy to get into – X is your attack, Circle switches characters, Triangle brings up the party inventory where you can use healing items, antidotes, and special equipment to get past certain areas, finally Square is you're dash. Holding the R-button plus circle, square, x or triangle activates a characters special skill, while the left lets loose an extra special ability that will do some serious damage. But you can only use it once during battle, after that it has to recharge. The extra special ability will refill on its own, unless you attack enemies with a special skill, which will unleash yellow orbs that will refill the guage a lot faster. If you attack an enemy with a normal assault, you will receive blue orbs that refill the special meter skill. If you hold down X, you will charge your weapon, which will not only do more damage but also release more blue orbs to refill your special meter.
When you first acquire Altaginian weapons from Scias (another major player, but non-playable character), he informs you that each enemy have weaknesses to certain player attacks – Adol can take on soft enemies, while Dogi is much better suited for hard-shell opponents. This adds some strategy to the game and you must choose wisely which characters are best suited for any given situation, i.e. just because a character looks soft, doesn't mean Adol is best to use. You'll know when a character can best be used by the color of the number of hit points you take away; if it's yellow, go for it! If it's blue, switch up!
As you traverse the land, you'll come across other characters that may need your assist and it's totally optional should you choose to help them, because their quest doesn't affect the overall story. However by not helping them, you might miss out on some good items.
Finally, you're gonna be dealt some damage, especially from those Titanos. Luckily you're not without healing items or antidote. However you are limited by how much of any one item you can carry, so you have to be sure to use your items sparingly. When traversing the land and your characters has taken considerable damage, just stop and they'll automatically heal themselves. It won't work when you enter a major dungeon, unless you have acquired this urn that will allow you to do so. There are other special items that you can find or buy that will be of considerable assist such as the urn that will pull money and objects of fallen foes towards you, luminous rock that will light up a dark cave, or diamond boots that will allow you to walk on spikes.
Ok, now that we've gotten the gist of everything, let's jump into the review.
Ys Seven is a fantastic, straightforward, overhead action RPG that's very easy to get into. The story, while original to the Ys series, actually takes elements from other RPGs such as Final Fantasy 7 (the all important flower girl, who lives in the slums…), and Lunar (you have Aisha who won't leave the duo's side… even though she should). The story plays out at a brisk paced, which is mostly due to it being very linear. You can't really go everywhere in this game - go off the beaten track and the characters will alert you that you need to go back. I thought this would be annoying, but it really helps keep the story moving because you aren't side tracked too much; though some of the side quests slow things down a bit, remember it is an option. Controls are spot on perfect with nary a hiccup, and what I am impressed with the most is how the assist characters react to what's happening in battle – they actually respond to what's going on and will attack/defend accordingly. If you dodge an attack, they will too. And if you go to pick up items, they will assist. That's the way it should be! But what makes Ys Seven stand out above all else is its kick ass soundtrack that will simply blow you away! If you're picking this game up, get yourself some serious headphones and prepare to be amazed and immersed by the beautiful soundtrack that flows from this game! Amazing!
Yea Ys Seven is not the perfect game of the year; for starters, I am not happy that Adol doesn't have his own voice. He responds in the game with "Adol will do this", or "Adol agrees to do that", why not simply have Adol say it? By him responding this way, it can suck you right out of the game at times. Second, you don't have a chance to fall in love with your weapons and armor. What I mean by that is, as soon as you get a new weapon, a new one awaits you, sometimes if you're not paying attention, you'll find out after you have done a quest that you could have "synthesized" (make new weapons or items out of material found in Altago) a much stronger weapon/armor, but you've already wasted money on the one you have. So of course you're gonna get the new weapon, but when you enter a new town - there's new weapons! So my tip is to check the synthesize section first BEFORE you buy a new piece. Third, the game is a little too easy. What's tough in the game are the boss battles, but you won't get a serious battle until you reach the last boss. And to defeat any given boss, you'll have to discover the pattern they follow and exploit it. Finally the whole synthesize thing? I'm simply not a fan of farming for items, just to build new items. The only time synthesize comes in handy is when you're making weapons, armor, and special items. You make more than enough money in the game to buy all the healing items you need, which isn't all that much anyway since you're limited to what you can carry.
Fighting a monster named Lavar. To me that's just too much.
But I'll forgive this games faults and state that Ys Seven was a pleasure to play and the ending is very satisfying. I hope that Xseed and Falcom come together to bring Adol and Dogi back for another adventure into the world of the unknown, because this round, I can use one word to sum up the entire game – Fantastic! This holiday season, PSP owners, if you haven't done so already, add this game to the list of goodies you'll want from old Saint Nick. I highly reccomend it. And out of TOV 5 stars, I give Ys Seven 4 stars and it's been Valkor tested and TOV Approved.