Ys Origin originally debuted on Japanese PCs back in 2006. It was then released worldwide on Steam in 2012 and now Ys Origin makes its console debut exclusively on PS4 with a PS Vita port coming soon after. Does this eleven-year-old game still have what it takes? The simple answer is yes, but it’s not without wrinkles.
First of all Ys Origin, as the name would imply, is a prequel for the series nearly 700 years in the past. That said two new adventurers have replaced our mainstay hero, Adol. Yunica is a knight in training and Hugo is a lone magic user. Players can choose who they want to follow, but except for gameplay and minor story changes both campaigns are virtually the same. There’s a tower filled with monsters where two goddesses are residing wherein an evil group of rogues are trying to kidnap them for nefarious means. That’s the basic gist of things and they don’t go too far beyond that concept. Overall I favored Yunica more as her past had more oomph behind it what with trying to follow in her father’s footsteps while Hugo was kind of a drag.
Truthfully I’ve never been too fond of any Ys narrative as they tend to be long winded, cliché, and simplistic. Regardless of which the tight gameplay keeps me coming back more. As Yunica, or Hugo you’ll climb the tower with each floor designed with different aesthetics like one engulfed in lava, or one submerged in water. There are light puzzles involving some tricky platforming and finding items in order to progress like a key, or special scales allowing our heroes to breath underwater. Enemies are sprinkled throughout on the way to mid bosses and dungeon bosses each of which can be quite formidable. Gaining a single level can give you the benefit of victory making every experience point and fight matter even if you’re just hacking away endlessly.
Yunica is armed with an axe while Hugo has a wand and operates at a distance. Magical relics grant them elemental powers, which are the same items in both campaigns, but operate differently for either hero. For example the wind relic is a spin attack for Yunica while Hugo’s creates a shield. Armor and accessories adorn the rest of your equipment, which can be upgraded via social encounters or by channeling SP at save points. Abilities can also be acquired for SP like boosting recovery rate of your Boost skill, or lessening MP consumed by magic. Some are more expensive than others, but by the time you reach the end point of the game monsters will be glittering you with SP.
Even though the visuals have been crisped up on the PS4 there’s not much in the realm of awe-inspiring. There are a few minor glitches like music spilling over with sound effects into other scenes, but other than that it ran relatively smoothly. Ys Origin is repetitive and the story is drab, but completing each campaign will unlock some additional content that I don’t want to spoil other than to say it’s worth seeking after. It won’t take long to complete as Yunica and Hugo range around the seven-hour mark making everything in the game clock in around twenty hours depending on the difficulty and how good your skills are. Things about the game are dated, but this simple hack and slash RPG is worth tackling for both old fans and newcomers to Ys.
Score: 3/5 Stars
Special Notes: I received a review code for Ys Origin.