XSEED, the publishers behind Half-Minute Hero and Shadow Hearts: From the New World, bring new life to a classic Japanese RPG series in their latest PC title Ys: The Oath in Felghana. A remake of the 1989 TurboGrafx game Ys III: Wanderers from Ys, Felghana promises a blend of role-playing elements and fast action. But does this revival of a classic franchise translate into a new era?
The combat in Ys: The Oath in Felghana is a fast and frantic affair where the player is rewarded for dispatching enemies as quickly as possible. So long as you continue to attack, the combo meter boosts the experience you gain from defeating enemies. Vanquished foes can also drop temporary power ups, or other items to help you.
The problem with rewarding a player for maintaining constant offense is that it discourages them from playing defensively. Even though your character has a shield, he can’t block. The momentum from your attacks is usually enough to avoid taking hits. But the combo meter doesn’t reset when you’re hit – only when you fail to land a blow before it expires. Since defeating enemies, avoiding damage, and maintaining a combo are all tied to mashing the attack button, there’s little motivation to do anything else.
Felghana does a good job of steadily expanding your moveset to include dashing, downward thrusts, spin attacks, fireballs, and more. The dungeons are littered with very simple puzzles which let you use your new skills to reach secret rooms. There are also some challenging boss fights which, much like the classic game on which Felghana is based, rely heavily on pattern recognition and memorization.
The role playing elements in Ys: The Oath in Felghana are pretty sparse. You can increase your stats by gaining experience and leveling up. You can upgrade your equipment to increase its effectiveness, and you can find items in the dungeons which improve your spells. There’s definitely a sense of progression, but not of customization. There’s never any debate as to which equipment is better, and no variety in the weapons.
The soundtrack is one of the game’s high points; the pleasant fantasy themes and rocking fight music might seem at odds, but both sound great. The graphics are a throwback to Playstation-era RPG’s, but hold up well enough. Unfortunately, the story falls on every stale JRPG trope you might imagine: the silent protagonist, the burly best friend, the defenseless girly-girl love interest, the evil lord and his bad lieutenant, and the quest for the holy MacGuffins tying it all together. A good narrative really could’ve given us some motivation to keep playing, but the one-dimensional characters and generic plot bored us.
No single element of Ys: The Oath in Felghana really stands out. There isn’t a wealth of Japanese RPG’s on the PC, but we still can’t recommend Felghana to PC gamers looking to scratch that itch. Hardcore JRPG fans might give it a try, but unless you’re dying to revisit the days of the Turbografx then we’d recommend you pass on Ys: The Oath in Felghana.
Name: Ys: The Oath in Felghana
Available On: PC
Developed by: Nihon Falcom Corporation
Published by: XSEED Games
Release Date: March 19th, 2012
Elder Geek Score: 2 out of 5/Don’t Bother