Publisher XSeed Games is unofficially heralding the end of the PSP’s 2010 game summer drought, with their release of action roleplaying game Ys Seven in western territories. PlayStation Portable owners have previously been treated to remade titles from the long ongoing franchise, but Ys Seven marks the first game, that has been made exclusively for and with Sony’s handheld in mind.
Been here before
Nihon Falcom, the developer studio behind the Ys series, has plied its craft since the late 80’s – and it should come as no surprise, that Ys Seven is both competent and very traditional. The game’s formula is established and proven: cut-scenes forward the story and presents your next objective, and then it’s off into the wilderness dealing chops to monsters en masse, face-off against a boss to complete missions and repeat.
The manuscript is straight forward and pleasingly low key. We follow the exploits of the two friends Adol and Dogi – long time series heroes – as they arrive in Altago to find a land ravaged by sickness where evil creatures haunt the country side to make things even worse. As expected the two adventuring chums embark upon a grand adventure to free the besieged country.
Along the way you’ll make new friends increasing your line-up of party members, visit towns for clues and shop for better armour or weapons. Patient explorers can find ingredients useful for synthesizing potions, protective items and such.
This defines hardcore
Players will spend a vast portion of their time with Ys Seven battling the hordes of monsters that infest Altago. Action is fast, fluid and entirely satisfying. Controls function perfectly; you’ll have no problem laying waste to the numerous enemies using melee, ranged or powerful skill attacks. AI is effective, but no match for you taking control of a character, when the situation dictates the need.
The game’s giant bosses – being it ravenous, pink vulture-like beasts or fire spewing demons – are impressive and incredible hard to dispatch; you’ll need top-of-the line equipment, powerful characters and above all else endurance, as boss battles can easily last 10-15 minutes before you emerge victorious, if you do emerge!
Had me at ‘Prologue’
Some 20 to 30 odd hours will be sucked out of your spare time, before you close the book on the two companion’s tale. A generous length for an action RPG, and players will be entertained for the duration thanks to the constant change in pace, locations and ensemble.
While not technically top-tier, Falcom has built a stylish and beautiful world for Ys Seven. Adol and Dogi travel to set pieces ranging from windy mountaintop villages to deep green forests, all rich with detail and life. Characters tend towards blocky, while monsters are plentiful and inspired. Combat is peppered with energetic sound effects, and the sound track dishes out a mix of fine tunes ranging from ambient to rock.
Genre true to the last dot – yet executed flawlessly with the confidence of skills honed over years – Ys Seven is a small masterpiece in handheld format. If you only buy one RPG this autumn Ys Seven deserves to be right at the top of your shortlist!
Verdict: Get it! (Verdict list: ‘Get it!’, ‘Rent’ or ‘Never mind’)
By Tommy A.