The PlayStation Vita gets a new RPG addition to its slowly, but steadily, expanding library. Ys: Memories of Celceta is a action-role-player that combines the best of games like Zelda and Etrian Odyssey, to create an experience that still stands out as its own thing.
I haven’t played any of the other games in the series, one of the reasons being that few of them have been released in the West. From what I understand the series has a pretty complicated history, and while there were two games that are technically the fourth Ys, Memories of Celceta is also Ys IV in a rewrite of the game’s history. It’s a bit confusing.
It doesn’t matter all that much though, as the story is one of the weaker points of Memories of Celceta. In true JRPG fashion, our hero Adol is in an amnesic state, and as you begin to explore the world you and your party discover the lost memories. This is when the story starts shifting towards typical “save the world” territory. The plot is very basic, and forgettable too. Thankfully the game’s fun and strategic combat and focus on exploration makes the journey worthwhile.
The combat is a lot fun and presents an interesting blend of classic turn-based mechanics and a modern action game aesthetic. In the beginning of each fight you start out using basic attacks that build up a gauge that allows you access specialized skill attacks. Using skill attacks fill up an additional gauge that grants you the use of some awesome OTT special moves.
The combat is very well paced and looks great, but is also accessible yet tactical at the same time. Using your skill & special attacks with care is important, as they take a long time to activate. Each character has their own set of unlockable skills, and they all play different from each other, which goes a long way towards keeping the combat feeling fresh throughout the game.
Alongside the combat, map exploration is the game’s other big focus. You’ll spend most of your time exploring and charting the game world. You travel to villages, towns, and cities – slaying monsters along the way, and slowly increase the percentage of the map that you have uncovered. Indeed as you play, you’ll soon start to measure your progress and how much you’ve got left to go by the state of the map.
You’ll also spend quite some time collecting materials from fallen enemies. These items can then be synthesized in the towns into rarer items. The process of farming materials and synthesizing them can feel a bit drawn-out, but it’s totally worth it as eventually you’ll get the ingredients you need to create new armor and weapons for your characters. This is a cool system reminiscent of Monster Hunter, but new armor and weapon options become available so quickly that it sometimes doesn’t feel like it’s worth the time and effort to gather the materials, compared to the short time you’ll be using the equipment you make from them.
The in-game graphics of Memories of Celceta are not too impressive. There seems to be a filter in place that gives the visuals a washed out look. The fights are the best looking parts of the game, and some of the vistas are quite striking. The are also some really nice looking character illustrations that are often overlaid over the screen during some of the cutscenes. The overall rough visuals don’t detract from the core experience though. The soundtrack is great with plenty of catchy tunes that fit the game’s atmosphere perfectly.
Ys: Memories of Celceta is worthy addition to the PlayStation Vita’s RPG catalogue. It offers a good mix of RGP mechanics that make for a fun and challenging gaming experience. If the visuals were a bit sharper, and the story more original and engaging, this could have been a truly great game. Despite its shortcoming Ys: Memories of Celceta is still a really fun action-RPG with dungeon crawler elements that fans of the genre should definitively check out.
|What's Good? Great combat system with great balance between action and strategy, interesting blend of genre influences & fun exploration|
|What's Bad? Story and characters are uninteresting and cliché ridden, bland visuals & equipment upgrade system suffers from a few flaws|