Ys: The Oath in Felghana
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2010-12-04 PSP Action/RPG T (Teen) Falcom / XSEED Games

Just a few months after the release of Ys Seven, XSEED and Falcom now bring us a remake of Ys III: Wanderers from Ys, expanding the story, size of the dungeons and time of gameplay. But just because it's the third in the Ys series, don't worry about not following the story. Just like in Ys Seven, the plot isn't based on any past events but its own story, so anyone can jump in without the fear of having missed something in a previous title.

The Oath in Felghana follows again Adol Christin, who returns to Dogi's hometown of Redmont. It's been 10 years since Dogi left, and he is welcomed by all, but soon discovers that not all is well. An old friend has been missing for a while, monsters have begun to appear... Dogi roams off to gather information, and shortly after Adol gets involved in attempting to save some people trapped in a mine.

Unlike in Ys Seven, here you won't be hopping between party members to control one at a time, but rely on Adol's fighting skills alone. With practice, Adol will learn new fighting abilities to help you in combat, as well as find special bracelets that will give him "magic" powers which are needed to overcome certain obstacles and progress in the game.

Not having party members to help out means you need to figure out the best way to defeat a boss. It's usually a matter of observing and knowing when to jump, dodge and when to attack. If you fall during a boss fight, you can simply retry and start the encounter again, and if you die repeatedly, you are given the option to lower the difficulty of the fight.

You can upgrade your weapon and armor by finding materials. Don't expect to find anything outstanding in the usual town shop, be it upgrades or new items. Materials are also scarce, so keep an eye out for anything you can interact with as you progress in your adventure.

Don't expect to find healing or support items for sale either... these are random enemy drops, which can make the game pretty frustrating even in the normal and low difficulty settings. As you defeat enemies, there's a chance they will drop a healing item or some kind of boost (defense, attack, speed, etc.) which is temporary and will be shown on the left portion of the screen in form of a colored bar that will slowly shrink as the timer counts down. The only other option to heal is by using the save points, which are few and far between, adding up to the progression difficulty.

Switching from the original 2D into a 3D platform game has posed some problems as well, especially concerning timed jumps. If you miss it, Adol is sent plummeting down to many floors below and you are forced to backtrack all the way up to the spot where you miscalculated your jump... only to fall again. And again... and again... and... yeah. You get the idea. Until eventually, that combination of whirlwind and double jump is successful and you finally move on to the next area.

Knowing my fantastic sense of direction, every time I fell down to wherever, I had no clue where I was and finding my way back wasn't so easy, especially when the geography of the small areas in a dungeon is way too similar. The lack of dungeon maps was the bane of my gameplay. I'm embarrassed to even say how long it took me to get out of the lava area...

On the plus side, the music and voice acting were just excellent. Of course, you won't hear Adol utter a word, but the narrator is fantastic, as is everyone else. As for the soundtrack, each tune seems to have been carefully planned for the area and situation it's in.

So while the lack of maps, few save points and tough difficulty leading to level grinding can frustrate most of us, Ys: The Oath in Felghana is still a great action-packed RPG with plenty of challenges, good story, strong characters, great voice acting and fantastic music. If you have the patience to overcome the obstacles, it's definitely worth picking up.

Special thanks to Kyla Keefe and XSEED Games for providing a copy of this title.