Ys Seven Review

Ys Seven (Available only on PSP)
ESRB Rating: T
Players: 1
Genre: Action RPG
Publisher: Xseed Games
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Release Date: August 17th, 2010

Parent Talk: Ys Seven is a fantasy RPG for the PSP, rated “Teen” because of mild violence and language, neither of which is explicit.  There’s no profanity or blood, so parents have little to worry about.  Like other JRPGs, characters are drawn in an anime style that may instantly draw children and teens.  The game is relatively easy to play and understand thanks to simple controls and mechanics.  However, bosses can be challenging even on Normal.

Ys Seven is the newest entry in Falcom’s long-running RPG series, and the first designed exclusively for the PSP.  Unfortunately for North American, most Ys games have yet to be released domestically, but that doesn’t mean Seven can’t be enjoyed.  While the games share themes (main character Adol appearing in many of the Ys releases), the plots aren’t interdependent.  Ys Seven is a fast-paced, rewarding action RPG that deserves a look even if you aren’t well versed in the series, or genre in general.

The Great:

An engaging, well-designed action RPG.  Ys Seven was made specifically for PSP.  It spins classic Ys gameplay in with new features and abilities to add more depth that results in a very streamlined game.  The combat/pacing is very fast and rewarding, which should hook in gamers turned off by the lengthy cutscenes and drawn-out battle sequences of other RPGs.  Ys is an ideal RPG to jump into.  Veterans might make comparisons to Secret of Mana and Soul Blazer.

The Good:

+ Great soundtrack.  Ys is revered by fans for its wonderful music.  The quality is great, and the content diverse and interesting.  Orchestral themes, hard rock, and synth music combine for a pulse-pounding list of tunes.  Falcom Sound Team JDK, you’ve done well.

+ Strong visuals.  Ys Seven is brilliantly colored and runs smoothly.  The artwork and character designs are especially appealing, with a heavy anime aesthetic.  I never noticed any slowdown or hiccups.  The PSP is home to stronger visual showcases, but Ys Seven is no slouch.

+ Balance.  The mechanics and controls are straightforward.  You dodge, strike, use skills, and change characters on the fly, all easily done.  There isn’t much in the ways of character building and stat allocation, but depth comes in the form of charge attacks, super attacks, multiple attack types, and side quests.  Just by holding the attack button, players unleash a stronger attack, which grants SP to use for skills.  Skill use builds up power, opening the door to devastating super attacks.  Additionally, characters have different weapon types (pierce, slash, strike) which are effective against specific monsters, thus requiring the player to decide what characters and equipment are best when.  The combat is fast, fun, and not hack ‘n slash as some might perceive.

+ Challenging bosses.  Most standard enemies are pushovers, rarely putting up a fight before bursting into coins and items.  Bosses, on the other hand, require patience and strategy.  While fighting here is faster, thus battles conclude quicker…battling bosses requires the player to discover effective attacks, avoid the bosses’, and counterattack properly.  Some bosses are especially massive, making the encounters all the more intimidating.

The Bad:

-Thin plot.  Ys Seven is about the world’s balance being thrown off, and Adol Christin must find the dragons.  The story spans each distinct region of the world, covering forests, deserts, mountains, and underwater temples.  After finishing the initial quest of finding the altars, you’re tasked to return to every area to conquer a secondary dungeon.  The story isn’t bad, just not special.  It’s your typical, “save the world” kind of game, like most JRPGs.  Gamers who cave a juicy plot may feel betrayed with this.  There’s little focus on exposition and character development.

-Linear.  Ys Seven is a straightforward game that doesn’t emphasize exploration.  There are sidequests, but they’re exceedingly simple and don’t require wandering off the beaten path.  There are secret bosses to fight and chests to find, but there isn’t anything extraordinary to pursue.

The Lowdown:

With a single playthrough clocking in at about 20-25 hours, Ys Seven isn’t the longest RPG, but one filled with solid gameplay.  It’s a fast-paced and rewarding 20 hours, which makes the experience far more substantial.  The linear structure and thin plot might turn off gamers who want a rich, full world to explore.  Even so, Ys Seven offers a solid adventure well worth your time.

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