Ys Origin: Series’ PC prequel explores life before Adol

June 21, 2012

Ys Origin came out in Japan in 2006, but wasn’t until the last few years that the US saw an XSEED-fueled resurgence for the series. Now that we have it, how well does it hold up six years later? Pretty well, actually.

The Ys story is about a struggle between the humans of Ys and the invading demons who want to destroy it. In this game, you are exploring a demon-built tower, looking for the missing Goddesses. Origin takes place 700 years before Ys I and II, thus rather than playing as Adol as you did in previous games, there are two new protagonists, each with an entirely different style of combat. Yunica Tovah is a melee fighter, using an axe to slice through enemies. Her style of play is similar to Adol’s, so it will be more familiar to fans of the series. Hugo Fact is a long distance magic user and provides a slightly different play style, though one that is just as fast-paced. After beating the game with either of them, you’ll gain access to a third character. Each one has their own personal variation on the overarching story, with enough meaning that playing through the game twice is enjoyable.

The combat system is the meat of the game, as it is very fast-paced and well-balanced. Each character has a standard attack and three skills, based on the elements of wind, thunder and fire. Some enemies are only vulnerable to certain skills, while others simply take more damage from some skills than others. Progress through the game is also dependent upon these skills at times. Gems found throughout the course of the game improve upon the base skills, making them stronger and chargeable.

When enemies are defeated, they drop soul points and sometimes temporary bonuses to your attributes such as strength and magic. Soul points are essentially the currency of the game and are used to purchase blessings from the Goddesses that will enhance your abilities. From improved herbs and status resistances to improved armor, these blessings will enable you to survive longer and do more damage to the demons.

As you progress through the game, you’ll come across goddess statues that serve the purpose of healing you, offering the aforementioned blessings, saving your game and also allowing you to teleport back to previously encountered statues. This isn’t often needed, but it is handy for the times when you do need to head back to base camp. Whenever you die, you’ll restart from your last save point, unless it is during a boss fight. In that case, you simply restart the fight.

The graphics, despite being six years old, hold up pretty well thanks to the art design. The cutscenes are a bit grainy, but the characters, environment and enemies are all well detailed and fitting. There’s not any voice acting (which may be a blessing, all things considered), but the soundtrack stands out among the best of the genre. Each track fits the mood of the scene, from emotional story scenes to frantic boss battles.

Basically, what I’m trying to tell you is that, if you are a fan of action RPGs and fast-paced gameplay, Ys Origin is a game that needs to be in your collection.

Pros: great combat, great music, enjoyable story, detailed characters
Cons: having to play it multiple times to experience the full story

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.