A memorable adventure
You might not realise it, but Ys helped establish the action-RPG genre as we know it today, first arriving in 1987 to chronicle the adventure of Adol Christin. Recently receiving its 10th main entry, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox, it shows no signs of slowing down but whilst western fans await IX’s localisation, we now find Nihon Falcom bringing Ys’ 4th canonical entry to PS4, Memories Of Celceta. Remastering the original Vita release from 2013, it still holds up as an excellent game.
Occurring a year after Ys II, we find Adol arriving in Casnan, a city under Romun Government control. Collapsing in the streets, it becomes clear he’s suffering from amnesia after exploring the Great Forest of Celceta. A mysterious place filled with hazards, beasts and gold, few explorers return alive and whilst Adol proves an exception, it came at a high cost. Not long after arrival, he partners up with an information dealer, Duren, and gets introduced to Celceta’s Governor-General, Griselda.
Herself tasked by Romn to obtain gold, Griselda requests Adol’s assistance in mapping the Great Forest, promising a high reward for his efforts. Setting off with Duren, Adol slowly recovers his memories as you traverse the Great Forest but discovers his previous adventure left quite an impression. Whilst its initial stages are slightly tedious, Celceta’s world truly opened up upon leaving Casnan, packed with an entertaining cast, interesting lore and strong sense of humour.
A Familiar Fight
There’s a lot to explore within Celceta, so to make life easier, each area contains a stone monument, tripling up as a checkpoint, HP restorer and warp point. It makes life easier when returning to Casnan, which acts as your hub with numerous shops, material trading and more, also providing a series of side quests. As you advance, Adol discovers new settlements to visit which hold a similar setup, but it’s important to continue reporting back to Griselda, who provides rewards for every 10% of the map explored.
If you’ve played fellow PS4 entry Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, MOC’s gameplay will likely feel familiar. Utilising real-time combat, players control a team of three characters, encountering new allies as you progress through the Great Forest and each deal different damage types. Ranging between slash, strike or piercing damage, some enemies hold specific weaknesses to attack types, so it pays to have a varied party.
Every enemy is visible; there are no surprise random encounters and MOC utilises a traditional EXP system, defeating enemies to earn points and level up. After attacking, party members build up their SP meter, allowing them to use skill attacks and more powerful ones require a higher SP cost. Battles also build up an “Extra” gauge in similar fashion, which can unleash a devastating attack once filled. You can also parry attacks and dodge roll for defensive manoeuvres, earning SP bonuses and slowing down time temporarily.
Depending on the enemy, defeating them earns materials, gold and life energy, providing further incentive to fight outside EXP. Party members recover HP by staying still, and you’ll establish campsites in spirit tree zones, providing quick restoration and new memories. Combat is only let down in underwater sections, feeling somewhat awkward to control but Ys otherwise proves a delight to play. It’s easy to pick up, fast-paced and well-polished.
Short But Definitely Sweet
You’ll acquire new weapons, armour and accessories as you progress but MOC also features an in-depth refinement system. Using materials to buff weapon and armour attributes through fusion, you can improve up to eight different stats for both, increasing attack/defensive power, inflicting status damage upon enemies and more. It works quite well, so you must choose between upping your current gear or buying new items.
If you were hoping for expanded content, however, you’ll be disappointed to learn MOC’s a straight Vita port. Completable within 20-30 hours, this might seem worse when compared to other JRPGs as it’s already a short game but don’t let this deter you. Ys games are historically quick to beat, and it’s a case of quality over quantity here, packed with addictive content to keep you busy and a New Game + mode too.
For its PS4 remaster, it’s clear Nihon Falcom have put great effort into MOC’s presentation, bringing us a vibrant, colourful world in full HD that still holds up now. Its 3D graphics are understandably looking aged, but gameplay runs smoothly at 60 frames-per-second, backed up by an energetic soundtrack. It also contains dual language options for English and Japanese, which will undoubtedly please some players.
A Memorable Adventure
It’s been seven years since we first saw Ys: Memories Of Celceta but this PS4 remaster proves a welcome return for Nihon Falcom’s juggernaut franchise. Bringing us real-time combat, an enjoyable storyline packed with humour and appealing visuals, Ys is a must-have for JRPG fans. Whilst there’s no new content for those who previously beat it, MOC remains a thoroughly enjoyable title and, old fan or new, comes strongly recommended.
[Reviewed on PS4]