Originally released for the Playstation Vita, Ys: Memories of Celceta is one of the timeless classics in the platform that gave life to the handheld. It’s that one game where you have to play it if you own the handheld and if you haven’t, you basically can’t be friends with me and I will forever hate you for it. Now if you still haven’t played or still on the fence about it in 2020, stay for a while as I give you a gentle push in the right direction.
In a nutshell, Ys: Memories of Celceta is basically at its core the embodiment of a classic JRPG. Encapsulating the world as its virtual playground as you adventure through many areas, towns and dungeons even above and below sea level. With some areas being locked until much later, it gives the game some replay value as you try to map out every nook and cranny in the name of adventure and shiny treasures, mostly about the shinies though but you get the point. And it is perhaps one of the most addictive quality that the game brings to the table.
But ironically, our tale starts off with an amnesiac Adol Christin in the most clichéd way possible as he lost all of his memories and is now going to be dragged around in dangerous areas left and right after taking the job for the Governor General to map out the forest of Celceta. Like dude, see a doctor first or something! What entails in his adventure though is an overly dragged scenario that after entering one or two towns you kind of expect what’s going to happen on the next one already. And this is where my interest falls off as it revolves around this one scene that leads to the next and it just cuts off your adventure time until you finish the story bits. Though it does have its interesting moments, the early segments of its story does put me off to a certain extent.
However gameplay-wise, it does bring it back up for me with its simplified hack n’ slash combat that is both fast-paced and frenetic without being too complicated for monkeys such as myself. The game offers a one-button combo for attacks while also having both a dodge and block button that makes for a very satisfying combat when you manage to pull off flash moves when you dodge or block right before an attack connects which has its own set of benefits. This gives a risk-reward system that becomes addictive if you have the reaction time to pull them off and it’s very rewarding in a strategical sense when fighting hard to fight bosses. Meanwhile you also get access to active skills that can be activated by holding the right trigger along with a face button or the left trigger for a more devastating ultimate attack. And each character has its own unique set of interchangeable skills so among the six playable characters you meet throughout your adventure, they never feel overly repetitive as they learn new skills as you use them.
Boss Battles in the game also offer some challenges while having a diverse set of shapes and sizes from the multi-staged underwater fight that continues mid-shore as you face off with a part-fish, part-mortar cannon boss among other fights that involve animal-like monsters to the more mechanical machinations.
And to add to its combat is its upgrade system where armor or weapons can be attached with stat boosting abilities or add unique special effects from obtaining HP or SP (which is used to activate skills) when attacking or the ability to inflict status effects from paralysis, poison, freeze or burn. This adds an extra layer of depth to its combat other than having accessories that has their own set of unique abilities, my personal favorite being an accessory that refills my SP after a Skill Finish and this makes me a literal god of spamming devastating skills when paired with other SP recovery accessories for that cheesy victory against trash mobs.
Though if there is one thing that kind of ticks me off, is it still has this annoying character specific abilities like Duren that can unlock some sealed treasure chests while others can break cracked rocks, cut hanging objects to unlock paths or activate devices that requires you to control that specific character. So if you don’t have them in your party, which most of the time I don’t, it becomes a trip to the menu to put them in my active party of three, use the skill and go back to switch them out again. It becomes really frustrating that there isn’t a quality of life improvement to this dated mechanic. It’s not a perfect game but at the very least, I always feel cockblocked from having the ideal marriage of fluid combat and a gorgeous adventure world to explore.
And visually, the world itself is great. Not that it can even be compared to current-gen games but it doesn’t become a huge turn-off for even being a 7-year old game that was originally made for a handheld no less. The world-building itself has some sort of fluidity in it as areas aren’t overly complicated to make you feel lost every step you take but it has enough path blocking mechanics set in place to make you turn around while also having multiple paths to give you the sense of freedom to explore the game in its entirety. Though I may just be a bit biased on this notion as I’ve already played it years ago on my handheld as well as on PC so it might not be the case for newcomers. The game doesn’t have that much voice overs though which is a bit of a shame but given that’s pretty much what most JRPGs back then offers (or doesn’t offer for that matter) it isn’t that big of a deal but just something to keep in mind to new players hoping to be friends with me. Am I right?
Overall, Ys: Memories of Celceta is a game that is best experienced at least once. Whether you’ve played it back in 2013 or 2018, it’s a game that you just want to try it out for yourself, twice if you’re feeling nostalgic but that’s pretty much it. It’s a game that is both great in its adventure and combat but really struggles to keep you playing once the story bits come crashing down on your parade. 2020’s console version doesn’t really change or add much which makes it a bit disappointing that it’s only selling point to fans would be nostalgia. But if you’re new to the series it’s definitely worth checking out.
You can grab this game here for £24.99
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Ys: Memories of Celceta
A bustling town deep in the frontier at the foot of an endless sea of trees... It is into this wild and untamed setting that a young man collapses, memories gone and only his name to guide him.
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 24.99
Product In Stock: SoldOut