I first heard of Ys from the HappyConsoleGamer in his New Years Ys Special. It piqued my interest but at the time I didn’t realize that I owned it. These sort of moments are why I’ve started this series. When selecting my random game for today it landed me on Ys Chronicles. What looks to be an updated version of Ys I (and possibly II).
As far as I could parse in my first hour I’m a survivor from overseas that swept ashore after a physical wall of storms obliterated my ship. I then set out from the town that nursed me back to health to try and resolve the whole demons outside the gates problem they were having. RPGs tend to start you off small because they want you to get an appreciation for how far you’ll go. If you start out as the lord of all things there isn’t very many places to go.
But start out as a guy with no armor, no shield, and no sword? That’s something. I spent about ten to twenty minutes stuck in the first town because I wasn’t paying attention. I kept trying to figure out how to unlock the armory so that I could buy gear. It turned out that all I needed to do was go to the next town to buy gear. There is an achievement for getting the sword for free. I don’t know how you do that (I believe its in that video I linked above) but I certainly missed it.
The visuals in this version of Ys are gorgeous. The intro video was delightful, the sprite artwork is just dandy, and the map certainly made me happy. It’s all dated, sure, but in no ways that I find negative. The aesthetics are there and that is what matters the most to me. The sounds both musical and effect are good as well. I enjoyed the music in dungeons and the overworld music that I heard. The town music wasn’t half bad either. It all made me jazzed up for whatever I was going to be doing, be it buying things or making bad guys explode into a million pieces.
Combat is done through something called a “Bump System” which sounds like what you’d think. Reliving my experiences on every public transit ever, I am tasked with bumping aggressively into others until they are dismembered into a pile of viscera. The challenge is to hit the enemy at an angle (or more ideally from the side or back) because then you’ll take no damage. At least initially there are no healing items to be found. This might sound like the end times but you can heal outdoors simply by standing still.
The name of the game appears to be grinding but it doesn’t feel bad in Ys. Because of the bump system you can make it through a lot of fights fairly quickly. This might turn off some people but I was having a good time. You can even find ways to abuse the terrain so that they can never look at you allowing you to kill them without danger.
Ys demands that you save it frequently. Luckily you can do this just about anytime. If you don’t you are liable to stroll up on a new kind of bad guy and get instantly killed. If you die you go back to your last save. I lost a chunk of time playing the game to this mistake. If you bounce off of an enemy you’ll want to haul ass out of that area. Because if they hit you the odds are good that you’ll instantly die.
Obviously this is an RPG so I can’t speak to the game as a whole. But my first hour was pretty fun! I had a real good time. I’d say this game, given its age, is pretty good. It’s not a great first hour but certainly not something I regret. There are some ways it could be improved (like having more mobs on the screen) or perhaps better XP per kill but these are not blockers for me. I had fun, I recommend it to anyone that wants an interesting RPG. I’ll likely come back to this in the future.
I’m sort of fluctuating between if I think this is a “good game” or just an “ok game”. But I think it squeaks by into the good category.