|System: PS Vita|
|Dev: Nihon Falcom|
|Pub: XSEED Games|
|Release: November 5, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 544p|
by Jenni Lada
Adol Christin is a legend, and though he's been around nearly as long as a hero such as Link, he's nowhere near as famous. Yet, that's been gradually changing over the years, thanks to a bond between XSEED and Nihon Falcom that has brought Ys to the PSP, Windows PC, and now to the Vita.
Though, really, Adol's Vita adventure is more exciting than just being the first Ys installment on this particular handheld. It marks the third retelling of Ys IV, and the first time the story has been told by Nihon Falcom itself, master of the Ys series. We'll be playing through the 100%, totally accurate account of what really happened to Adol between Ys: The Oath in Felghana and Ys V: Lost Kefin, Kingdom of Sand.
But don't let all that Ys history get you down. Ys: Memories of Celceta is designed in such a way that newcomers can jump in and view it as a fresh start. That's because the game begins with our classic hero, Adol, coming down with amnesia. Yes, a JRPG where the protagonist has amnesia, who knew?
That's the position Adol is in when he comes to the town of Casnan, on the edge of the massive Celceta forest. All he knows is his name; though he still possesses the substantial skills he's accumulated over the years as an adventurer. He's hoping to find answers and the return of his memories, but instead, he finds a number of people who claim to know him and know about his past that he isn't sure if he can trust.
Dulen is an example. He's a thief, and one of the first people Adol meets in Casnan. He claims to know Adol, and the two quickly team up to help rescue a group of miners who are trapped when a mine collapses. The two work well together and save the day, and their actions catch the eye of the army. The two now have a new task, which is to explore Celceta's Sea of Trees.
This leaves players to join Adol, Dulen, and eventually other characters like Carna, in a journey throughout the mysterious forest. The goal is to map the entirety of it as Adol slowly rediscovers who he is, fighting various bosses and facing challenges along the way. The map is huge; Nihon Falcom has promised the largest Ys overworld ever with Ys: Memories of Celceta.
Fortunately, this isn't a solo run for Adol. The exploration and mapping is a three-person job. At the start, this means Adol, Dulen, and Carna will be working together to get through the areas. It's to a player's benefit to have such diversity, as there are challenges within the forests that require certain characters' skills. For example, if there's a locked chest, you'll naturally need Dulen, the thief, along to unlock them. This means the player will have to switch to that character, leaving the computer to control Adol and Carna while he works.
Character swapping is an important factor in battles as well. Ys is a JRPG series that relies on active battles, which means players will have to choose between characters in the heat of battle to make sure the proper beat down is being administered. I'm not just talking about changing to Carna to have her use tainted knives to inflict status ailments on opponents. (Though, that would help.) It's about swapping to make sure you are using a character that's using the right weapon for a situation. Adol, being our classic hero, wields a pretty big sword. You can't send him out against armored foes, but he'll slash unarmored foes to bits. Then, if the attack meter is full, a character can use an Ultimate Attack to really decimate an opponent.
This may leave you wondering what the other two characters are doing in Ys: Memories of Celceta when a player isn't using them. The computer is handling it. Players can customize the AI for each character; this determines how they will behave in a fight when they aren't directly controlled, and then, when a fight begins, the computer will follow the set guidelines to keep up with the character you're using.
That means a Ys: Memories of Celceta player can really focus on the battle, which is important, as dodging and guarding from previous entries has been improved. Guarding can stop an attack, but guarding at the exact perfect moment can restore valuable skill points and give players a chance to use a special skill in retaliation. Dodging can get a character out of the way of an attack, but again, timing is everything. Do it right, and time briefly slows down and allows the character to perform a quick counter attack.
It's an active adventure, to be sure, and players can even consider the story mode of Ys: Memories of Celceta as training for the Boss Rush mode. Yes, once again, players can face off against all the bosses, one after another, to see if they are strong enough and smart enough to survive a constant onslaught of pain. Players can choose to go at it with Adol alone or with a group of three characters.
We'll be able to make new memories with Ys: Memories of Celceta later this year. It's looking like Vita owners will have it in time for the holiday season, as a November 5, 2013 release date seems likely.
Date: August 22, 2013