Ys Origin marks the second game from the Ys series to make its way to the Nintendo Switch. If you weren’t previously aware, there are a large number of Ys games in existence. Nintendo Switch gamers can finally experience what the series has to offer, with hopefully many more titles to come.
A search party has been assembled to find two missing goddesses of Ys. Split up by an unknown force during their travel, they must now attempt to regroup and resume their search. The game’s entirety consists of climbing a tower. While it may seem disheartening since such an objective is commonly represented as a portion of a game, it can surprisingly leave one breathless. The interactions between characters are sufficient to keep the torch lit while you crush the baddies, and possibly even move you.
You play from the perspective of either a male sorcerer or an axe-wielding woman who is also capable of using the sword. The differences between the story campaign of these two characters are minor, with more insights on situations the particular protagonist has to deal with. A third playable character is unlocked upon finishing the first playthrough of the game and makes replaying the campaign even more worthwhile. There isn’t much benefit to playing again as the alternate opening character other than getting a better understanding of their personality and seeing the events unravel from a different view.
Ys Origin offers the choice between two playable characters at the start of the game. They both play differently; one focuses on physical melee techniques while the other uses long-range magical attacks. They both possess a number of skills at their disposal and are capable of charging them up for a more powerful attack. In addition, a Boost Meter is built up as you progress that temporarily raises the power of your attacks.
The game does not disappoint in teaching you about these attacks. Throughout the floors of the dungeon, you’ll have to subdue enemies and climb to the top. Save points have been generously provided so there’s never a moment of dying from a surprise attack just to lose your progress. Some of these save points do require some effort to unlock, such as slaying the enemies before you.
Similar to most RPGs, Ys Origin has its own inventory system. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t explain how much of an importance it is. Simple tasks such as equipping an item necessary for game progression can go amiss. You may feel as though the item’s effect is in play after obtaining it, but you’ll be sadly mistaken. It won’t be long till you might figure it out, but the time wasted could have been cured with simple instructions.
Swapping between powers is convenient with the press of the L/R button, but it’s once again something you must figure out on your own. It goes without saying the game doesn’t intend to hold your hand and walk you through all of the necessities. It’ll explain the basics of your combat skills, at most. You’ll need to be excited about figuring out how the mechanics work on your own, or seek assistance from other players.
As previously mentioned, the majority of the game is played in a tower consisting of many connected areas and locked doors. Although most of the game is linear, some backtracking is often required. This is normally the case with areas you previously couldn’t get to. People who suffer from poor memory can possibly get lost. The game also doesn’t make it a simple task in figuring out what to do next. You can go exploring every inch of an area all for naught. Recalling suspicious locations or previous areas you couldn’t pass is critical in these moments. Requesting in-game assistance is possible, but it’s more of hints rather than answers; sometimes it can even leave you hanging.
There isn’t much to do other than crush enemies, open treasure chests, and find a way to progress further. Advancing never feels tiresome with how well-paced character events are; they’re the heart and blood of Ys Origin. The game’s quality would have drastically declined without it. Some areas may pose an obstacle to overcome where you must properly utilize your powers or acquired items. It’s an interesting feat, and more of it would have been most welcoming, but as a single playthrough may not cross 10 hours, it’s enough to settle most player’s hunger.
Now You See It, Now You Don’t!
A specific item in Ys Origin allows the wearer to search for hidden passageways. This means you’ll need to revisit areas you’ve once explored to find any hidden secrets. The item’s usage is both mandatory and optional. There will be parts of the game where it’s needed to progress, while you can optionally use it to gain access to obtainable items. These items can help with combat if it gets too tough.
Swimming; Not For The Faint Of Heart
Swimming provides its own challenge. You can only stay underwater for so long. While there is an item to help with this, the game doesn’t make it easy to arrive at your destination before time runs out. It’s yet another impossible-looking scenario you’ll encounter on your journey where the hidden answer teases you without your knowledge of it. You’ll have to figure out the possibility of clearing this obstacle without kicking the bucket where no human will discover your remains.
Combat in Ys Origin is smooth. You can play up close and personal or as a ranged fighter; however, once you decide on a character, you’ll have to see it through until you start a new playthrough. The live-action combat mechanics are great; you’re able to use skills you’re specialized in, as well as newfound powers you’ll obtain along the journey. These different powers enhance the battle experience and are crucial in some instances. Constantly slaying enemies will temporarily boost your stats, but a cooldown system will try to take the increased stats away.
The range of skills you can use is plentiful and makes busting up the baddies pleasurable. It can sometimes feel tiresome late-game as the wizard, almost as if you’re playing one of those spaceship shooter games, but the close-range protagonist maintains the enthusiasm with their wider range of combos. For the most part, it’s going to be a delight moving from area to area destroying these rebels on sight. From time to time you may want to ignore these enemies, but mostly when searching for a way to continue with the main objective at hand.
The game has a variety of enemies. As you climb further up the tower, you’ll encounter new faces. Some of these enemies attack in different ways and may even possess a higher amount of HP. From ground dwellers to levitating monsters, it may not take an unreasonable number of strikes to defeat these creatures as long as your stats are in decent shape. There are, however, special ways to deal with them more efficiently. Each horde of enemies butchered will leave behind tons of drops. The game doesn’t help with auto collecting these drops as seen in other ARPGs, so each fallen enemy will have you scouring the area to collect them all.
Ys Origin has a mixture of human-sized and scary gigantic bosses to sink your weapons into. The colossal bosses are nothing if not impressive. Each boss has a unique style of combat to make battles intriguing. They’re significantly stronger than the minions you’ll encounter on your climb and the majority may give you a run for your money. Some require that you figure out their weakness and it may even take several attempts to discover it. Others will give you an exhilarating fight where your skills are put to the test.
Failing to explore every corner of the dungeon will not play in your favor unless unnecessary grinding has been done. Finding the required material for weapon upgrades is essential in having the smoothest experience in a boss fight. The difference in strength is significantly noticeable; the damage you dish out will seem like tickles to the enormous foe before you unless your gear is in optimal shape for the fight.
Some of the boss battles you’ll engage in will appear as though the boss is impossible to defeat, but obviously, that isn’t the case. Constantly losing in some of the boss fights can be exhausting. It can even escalate to the point of irritating when having to start over in the boss battles where you can’t instantly damage the enemy. Subduing them is always rewarding, especially if you’re underleveled, as it requires more effort.
Ys Origin is a game you’ll know for its grinding. While you may not have to level grind a lot, a higher level can help make boss battles more manageable. Obtaining items to upgrade your stats will be sufficient to go head to head with the powerful opponents in the game. Nonstop fighting can also increase the EXP multiplier to help with level grinding, but it’s still no easy task to get over-leveled.
What you may have to grind for is SP. This currency you can use at Goddess Statues to obtain special perks, and you acquire it by defeating enemies while ascending the tower. Each defensive piece of gear you obtain will require a power-up for strengthening. Other perks such as faster movement speed and less MP consumption are also available. The cost of these perks varies, where most are expensive.
Enemies respawn, making grinding a whole lot simpler. All you have to do is leave an area and revisit it to face the same foes over and over again. Acquiring SP becomes easier late-game near the highest points of the tower. Some of the Goddess Statue’s options are unreasonably expensive, so you’re still forced to grind if you choose to obtain them all.
The game offers three difficulty modes — easy, normal, and hard. The Normal difficulty is the perfect balance for those who are looking for a challenge without bringing death to everything with a simple touch. As you won’t be able to change the difficulty mode upon starting a game, you’ll have to be confident about your decision from start to finish.
When your HP drops to zero in the game, you’ll restart at the previous save point or the entrance of the room you were in. That means you won’t lose a lot of progress when you die. Dying by the hands of a boss will give you the option to immediately restart the match or go to the title screen to load a previous save.
Graphics and Soundtrack
Ys Origin is an old game and its graphics show their age, although it won’t detract from your experience with it. The game runs well on the Nintendo Switch even when in the face of many enemies or complex gameplay scenarios. The sprite-based characters and enemies are of outstanding quality for its age, and the environments you’ll explore are a close second.
The tunes played are fitting for a demonic stronghold with some that stand out here and there. They’re sufficient enough to guide you from area to area so that you keep your composure while fighting through the hordes of enemies that try to keep you at bay.
While Ys Origin’s combat is entertaining and its story events are shockingly impressive to someone new to the Ys series, it’s not the type of game to hold your hand. It forces you to figure out things on your own that are commonly included in a mini tutorial. The game also excels in replay value with a third unlockable character sporting a new fighting style and a different perspective of the story. Its graphics are aged, but it doesn’t prevent you from enjoying the interactions between characters and the challenging boss battles you’ll face. For the $19.99 price point, it’s a great opportunity to jump into the Ys series without getting too perplexed with previous events.
Ys Origin gets a 9/10.