Also available on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita
I'm ashamed to say that this is my first Ys game. I've had Ys III for years but never got around to playing it. After BoneSnapDeez and Exhuminator, two of my friends from the Racketboy forums, recommended Ys Origin to me as a good entry point for the series, I figured I'd take their advice and give it shot considering that I had it in my Steam library already. I've played a lot of games on recommendations, but this is probably the best recommendation I've ever gotten for a game.
Ys Origin is a very approachable action RPG, and it's a damn good one at that. It offers five different difficulties, making it a good romp for veteran players as well as a non-threatening entry point for new players. You get to play as one of two different characters (three once you've cleared the game once), and while I only played through as one (axe chick ftw), my understanding is that the main plot of the game is largely the same between the two with minor perspective details differing - certainly worth playing through with all characters if you want every side to the story but not different enough that you NEED to play through the game three times to get the Ys lore.
I'll try not spoil anything, but the basic plot of the game is that the two goddesses of Ys have vanished from the magical floating temple where all the humans live without a trace down to the surface which has been overrun by and infested with demons for the past a lot of years. Your character - whichever of the two you pick - accompanies a search party of mages and knights to the surface on a mission to find and protect the goddesses. The game itself takes place entirely within a giant towers that the demons erected to try to reach and/or rival the magical floating shrine place.
The visuals are charming, and the soundtrack is superb. Honestly, the game is worth playing through just for an excuse to listen to the music. The narrative is delivered entirely through subtitles - no voice acting - so there are no aggravating voices to interrupt the bitching music. My only real gripe with the entire game is a minor technical problem - the aspect ratio. I played on Steam, so I don't know if the regular PC release is any more cooperative, but I could not for the life of me figure out how to get the aspect ratio set to 16:9 instead of 4:3 (assuming there is a way at all). I know it's not the end of the world, but I was playing on my Steam Link on my giant living room TV, and the huge (or, as our president-elect says, yuge) black bars on the sides got irritating. Aside from that, though, this game is about as flawless as I can imagine any action RPG being.
Ys Origin is not a long game - it took me about 10 hours to clear - but I think that the length is actually pretty solidly in the Goldilocks zone for this game. It's not so short that it feels like it's over in the blink of an eye, but it also doesn't drag on and on and on and on like a lot of RPGs start to. It lasts long enough to tell a story, get you involved in it, offer some compelling and satisfying challenges, and then let you on your way. Speaking of satisfaction, the most satisfying part of the game for me was definitely the boss battles. The bosses in Ys Origin - and in Ys games in general, from what I've been told - are all a matter of figuring out the "key" so to speak to victory. You can't just rush a boss and blindly start hacking at it and expect to win (unless you're ridiculously overpowered, I guess). You have to take note of a boss's attacks, look for possible weak spots, and find out how to exploit those weakness while taking as little damage as possible, and it will often take an attempt or two to figure out how to win. I was only able to beat three of the game's bosses in one attempt (ironically, though, those were the last three bosses of the game, but I'd powered up the strongest armor and maxed out my weapon upgrades as well as being a pretty high level, so I think I might have been a smidge OP by that point).
Ys Origin is not without its flaws....but those flaws are very, very few and very, very far between. Those used to super long RPGs may be left wanting at the end of Ys Origin, but for those of us who like to get a story and move on to the next story, the length is perfect, and for those of you who enjoy longer games, the three playable characters offer roughly 30 to 40 hours of gameplay for you. Ys Origin is, in my mind, as close to a perfect action RPG as I've ever played, and I look forward to collecting and playing the rest of the series.
My Rating - 5 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.