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PSP Review – Ys: The Oath in Felghana

November 3, 2010Written by Cameron Teague

Developer Falcom and publisher XSeed games are back at it again with the second Ys game seeing release on the PlayStation Portable in 2010. Earlier this year we got Ys Seven, and now, here is Ys: The Oath in Felghana, a remake of Ys III: Wanderers from Ys. In a day and age where games are expected to give a complex and deep experience, Oath in Felghana gives gamers a straightforward romp through the lands of Felghana.

The Oath in Felghana will once again have you fighting in the boots of the red-haired adventurer Adol. Adol and his traveling companion Dogi have returned home from their travels to find that monsters have increased in number and are attacking the villagers of Redmont. As you would expect, Adol takes up his sword in defense of the villagers and goes from Dungeon to Dungeon expelling all those in his way. For those looking for a deep story this might not be the game for you. The story does a good job of moving things along while staying out-of-the-way of your main goal, killing monsters.

The Ys series is all about combat and this game is no different with most of your time spent slaying monsters left and right. Right off the bat, veterans of the series will notice that the party system has been removed and gamers will now take the role of just Adol on their journey. It is a bit of a bummer not to have your party of team members to use but at least Adol is more than capable of handling anything you throw at him with his trusty sword. At the beginning your sword will have just the basic attack, but over time gamers will unlock new abilities such as whirlwind attacks to aid you in battle.

While combat in general may be all about moving at a quick pace, boss battles in the game need a bit more in the way of tactics. During these fights it is essential to take your time, learn your enemies habits and try your best to dodge when needed. All of this is made even more difficult because you have no way to heal yourself outside of dying and trying again. Thankfully dying is not the end of the world as the game gives you a retry option and after a few tries at a boss, will allow you to lower the difficulty. Boss fights are easily the highlight of this game and offer a challenge for just about anyone out there.

The sword is not the only thing you can upgrade in the game as you also have an armor and special slot to upgrade at the lone shop. Don’t expect deep customization here though as the shop is very limited in its upgrade choices and there is not much here to buy. Upgrades are obtained by gathering materials throughout the world so pay attention on your journeys. Items are also very scarce with the developer obviously wanting things to be a smooth experience. To this end, you will not find any health potions in the game and instead must use save points to heal yourself or gather health dropped from defeated enemies. Enemies will also drop boosts to defense, speed and attack when they die, which really keeps gamers moving forward.

Combat may be the focal point of the game but it’s not the only thing to do in Felghana, you must also master the art of platforming. This here is where most of my frustration came from. The platforming itself is not overly difficult, though you will find plenty of jumps that require a perfectly executed jump, whirlwind, double jump combo which can be tough at times to pull off. No… the real frustration lies in the fact that most failed jumps will land players 3 or 4 screens from where they were, leaving you the task of trekking all the way back.

Presentation is a bit hit or miss. Graphically Ys won’t do much to push the boundaries of the PSP with bland environments and lackluster character sprites. Luckily the soundtrack is once again nothing short of fantastic with tunes that really are music to your ears. Whether it’s a battle or walking through town, Oath in Felghana will make any task easy on the ears. The dialogue even pitches in with a very adequate yet unspectacular job.

Ys: The Oath in Felghana is one of those games that fits perfectly on to a handheld system. Its balls to the wall game combat is wonderfully complimented with a simple item and upgrade system. Running in unison with the game is a great soundtrack and a minimalistic story, which in this case is not a bad thing. Frustrating platforming, a lack of depth, and a relatively short campaign do hamper the experience, but the pure fun of this game and its strong boss battles helps ease the pain. Ys: The Oath in Felghana is a great companion for those looking to jump in and start killing monsters, but likely won’t appeal to those looking for a meatier overall experience.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ Combat is to the point with challenging boss battles.

+ Soundtrack that borders on epic.

– Short experience and frustrating at times platforming.

7 out of 10