One of the reasons why I left the traditional RPG world behind was because after awhile I’ve seen all the genre has to offer. I’ve seen the kingdoms under attack, the pretenders to the throne, and the fantasy world in danger. But after years away I’m coming to appreciate what it is I left behind: The dungeons, the forests, the good old fashion adventure. I never appreciated these worlds while I had them and after playing (pronounced “isu”) Ys: Memories of Celceta I forgot what fun they were.
Starring amnesiac hero Adol Christen, Ys: Memories of Celceta is the Vita’s action-RPG entry into the long running RPG series and the 4th in the canon of the Ys games. Adol wanders into a nearby town, from the legendary forests around Celceta. What makes this something to be surprised about is that the forest is notorious for being inescapable once you become lost. Full of monsters and other dangers, the forest is a tremendous obstacle for the city as well as a tantalizing adventure for heroes. The narrative eschews any plot (initially) and simply pays you to go on an adventure. As the only person known to escape the forest intact, Adol is tasked with mapping the area for the local government, getting paid a commission and picking up party members along the way.
I really loved this narrative device. It was a simple beginning that set the tone for a game that placed the adventure above all else, with no convoluted mythology to wade through. Instead, the exploration becomes the story and as Adol returns to the forest and more of his lost memories return to him, the more the story builds around the mystery of what happened in the forest.
The game is an action-RPG rather than turn-based so all characters are free-roaming and can attack, dodge, guard with the various buttons of your Vita. The gameplay is all real-time and plays pretty great as an action game. You can even change between your two party members with the press of a button to experience different play styles. Each of your party has a different mode of attack rather it’s distance, melee, or sword. Each of them are rewarding gameplay experiences, and with special moves and combos unique to each of them, it never gets old. Also, there are no separate battle screens here; all the monsters roam the dungeons and you can engage them or they can engage you at any time.
Visually the game may not be the most beautiful on the system, but that’s relative to games that are fairly dissimilar. Ys: Memories of Celceta is a traditional RPG and looks like a modern update on the genre. The 2D art is fantastic, classic RPG settings such as the forest and caves are all beautifully rendered, and character animation never lacking. Hell, the water looks especially pretty as you swim around it in some dungeons. The music is absolutely outstanding which makes me regret missing out on getting the soundtrack as a pre-order bonus. The dungeons are all well-scored and the only problem I have with it is the theme for the main city which is a bit too guitar heavy for the setting to fit well.
Ys: Memories of Celceta was a complete surprise for me. I’ve never played a Ys game, but Memories of Celceta allowed me to jump right in and fall in love with the classic RPG all over again. If you own a Vita and miss classic adventures then it’s hard for me not to tell you to pick up Ys: Memories of Celceta.
[+Refreshingly old school adventure][+Real time combat exciting and strategic][+Amazing music][+Looks great][-Sometimes unclear on objectives][-Map confusing at times]