Published on April 8th, 2012 | by Shawn Long, Features Editor
Ys: The Oath in Felghana Review for Steam
Publisher: Xseed Games
Release Date: March 19, 2012
MSRP $14.99 USD
Ys: The Oath in Felghana is in actuality an old game. Originally released as Ys III: Wanderers from Ys in 1989 for NEC-PC 8801, the game has seen a release on platforms from Sega Genesis to the PSP. XSeed has now released it on Steam as Ys: The Oath in Felghana, featuring graphical upgrades and tighter gameplay. How does this 20-plus year old game hold up today? Pretty damn well.
The story of the game is simple and easy to follow. You play the role of Adol Christin, who joins his friend Dogi to return to his homeland three years after the events of the first two games in the series. Upon returning to town they find an evil presence lurking within and it is up to Adol to discover and destroy it. It’s not huge in narritive, but there are enough interesting conversations and plot devices to keep interest. It would have been nice to have some added depth to the story, but I suppose the designers wanted to preserve the original game as much as possible. The main appeal of Ys isn’t the story though, it’s the fast gameplay mechanics.
Ys: The Oath in Felghana is a fast game and a true action RPG. There is no deep item management, no extra party members, no turn-based battles; you platform, slash, and jump your way through each area while battling various respawning monsters. Once defeated, enemies drop HP and MP pick-ups, which is your only source of recovery. It may seem that the game is shallow, but it’s just that there is more of an emphasis on action than deep story. You use four keys throughout the game: attack, jump, magic and power up attack. The directional keys are for character movement. Like I said, simple, but effective.
Everything is done very well, although you will face a few cheap deaths due to tricky jumps. The combat is fast and fluid, and the higher you combo enemies, the more perks you get, which include increased defense, increased XP for each enemy killed, and more. Magic has various forms, from basic attacks, to new abilities. You will need certain magic abilities to progress in certain areas, such as a long gap to jump. Your character levels up at an appropriate pace, but I did feel that there was a bit too high of a difficulty spike during boss fights. Occasionally the game will have you confused on what to do next, and since it’s a very “retro” affair, there isn’t much effort to guide you. Those instances are few and far between though and don’t detract too much from the game.
I’m pleased to say that the graphics and sound are top-notch as well. Vibrant colors, lovely textures and varied enemies make for an eye pleasing experience. Couple that with a fast framerate, this game looks very beautiful in motion. The areas have enough variety to keep things fresh as you progress. The music is probably the best part of the game, with an awesome soundtrack that will stick in your head for days. Solid sound effects are here as well, but make sure you have the music turned all the way up to fully enjoy this game.
The most surprising thing about this game is it doesn’t need beefy hardware needed to run. I am not very well versed with Steam, so I feared that my paltry 2009 Acer Netbook wouldn’t be able to handle the game. I was very impressed when it ran perfectly with no slowdown whatsoever. At a low price point of $14.99 USD for about 15-20 hours of slashing makes for an attractive package as well. There are also achievements, various difficulty settings and unlockable contect upon completition of the game.
While not the deepest or most satisfying game ever made, Ys: The Oath in Felghana is a throwback to action RPGs of the past and is a very polished one at that. Fans of the genre will love the game, and fans of platformers should check it out as well.
[xrr label=”Rating: 8.5/10″ rating=8.5/10]
+ Awesome soundtrack
+ Fast gameplay
+ Crisp graphics
– Platforming can be a bit tricky
– Traditional story may deter RPG vets