Ys: Memories of Celceta Review

Stay for the Memories

The full story of Ys IV is a lengthy one, but the three earlier renditions of this game were never brought across the Pacific. Ys: Memories of Celceta marks the fourth version, and is the first one to be developed by Falcom instead of given to another studio. Better yet, XSEED Games actually localized this incarnation of Ys IV, and it provides a fine action RPG for the Vita, along with quite possibly being the best of this consistently entertaining series.

Series star Adol Christin wanders into town with a crippling case of amnesia. He seems to have been befriended by a fellow named Duren, who somewhat reluctantly agrees to help the confused Adol, partly because it stands to be profitable. This pair is quickly given the task of mapping the confusing and mysterious terrain to be found within the forest of Celceta, with the local Romun authorities quite willing to pay for the cartography. It isn’t long before Adol and Duren reach a settlement within the forest, but the locals react very poorly to the sight of them. It seems Adol has been there before, and is now blamed for things going horribly wrong.

Memories of Celceta gets credit for making Adol’s amnesia into more than a relentlessly overused plot device. It does this by making his memories tangible things that can be located while exploring, at which point a remembrance will take place and Adol gains a statistic increase. Some of these memories depict the childhood of Adol, something never previously glimpsed and rather interesting to behold. The script as a whole is ingratiatingly easy to follow thanks to XSEED’s localization skills, and most of the character interaction is entertaining. Overall the tale won’t win points for unpredictability, but most of what transpires is enjoyable and pleasant nevertheless. Its conclusion is effective at raising the player’s pulse, but has a rather abrupt stopping point that feels as if Falcom had intended to carry events a little further.

Perhaps it’s best that this line did not feature voice acting.

Ys Seven was clearly the blueprint for how Memories of Celceta plays, and much of what made combat in that title incredibly addictive is kept. The player controls one of three active combatants while the other two are guided by the AI, which is not brilliant but does a much better job than many titles. The AI-controlled party members will fearlessly take on adversaries that appear, and will also magically teleport back to the player instead of staying stranded by a wrong turn. Various types of enemies that require a number of stratagems to defeat will appear, and most are particularly vulnerable to one type of weapon, forcing the player to switch leaders frequently. Action moves quickly all the time, but a dash button speeds it up even more. New to Memories of Celceta is a block function that will successfully guard against any attack, though standing immobile is not the way to win.

Hammering the attack button is a somewhat viable strategy against weakling adversaries, but more dangerous ones will often prompt use of a combat skill to assist. Each character has a few of these, which are automatically learned and can be switched around at any time. Since the skills are attached to each character instead of a particular piece of weaponry, figuring out which ones are best suited to the player’s preferences does not require keeping an excess inventory stocked. Each character already controls uniquely in the game, and the skills further differentiate them for various situations. Switching between each person and the equipment available is efficiently done, and just like in Ys Seven, having allies automatically assist in gathering the materials strewn over the landscape is most welcome. Every protagonist also has a unique action on the field that is required to progress through various obstacles, further necessitating and encouraging a revolving party roster.

As might be expected of a place which has not been mapped and is unknown to the outside world, Celceta is a sizable place. It unfortunately lacks a quick means of teleporting around the land until the game’s second half — while there is an earlier means of instantaneous transport, it needlessly divides the realm into regions that do not share points for arrival. Otherwise Memories of Celceta does a fine job of providing information at a glance, clearly displaying areas that have yet to be explored along with the spots relevant for completing quests.

Huh. Most caves wouldn’t hold up if something large blew up inside, but this must be special.

Earlier incarnations of Ys IV were quick plays, but Memories of Celceta expands the journey out to thirty hours or more. This isn’t a problem when Falcom has packed enough content to keep things interesting throughout, constantly tossing in new things to experience and adversaries that demand somewhat different tactics to defeat. A difficulty select allows anyone to take part, from Falcom veterans seeking to memorize boss patterns on pain of instant death at one lapse in judgment to neophytes. Being able to revive fallen party members does change the challenge from most other games in the series that had a single protagonist, but these opponents are quite capable of demolishing the unprepared.

This series’ English voice acting goes all the way back to Ys games on the TurboGrafx CD, but XSEED fortunately does a much better job than those efforts from the early 90s. Results are pretty good during combat, but the sparse line readings during story sequences make it harder to judge how stong the performances are, though at the very least they aren’t poor in quality. Ys games are known for rocking soundtracks, and Memories of Celceta does nothing to break with that reputation. These tunes come from the soundtrack composed when the initial pair of Ys IV titles was developed in the early 90s, but the arrangements and instrumentation take full advantage of the Vita’s abilities and give ample audio enjoyment.

A few animated sequences aside, Memories in Celceta shows off the Vita’s graphic capabilities rather well. Characters and enemies do look a little jagged from polygon construction if examined at length, but doing so is a rare indulgence when blazing around the landscape is more important. For looking quite attractive and showing off an impressive variety of distinct places, this game is very easy on the eyes.

Exactly how Ys outlasted almost all of its compatriots in the late-80s JRPG scene to keep releasing games up to the present is a bit of a mystery. I certainly won’t question it when the series keeps delivering quality though, and Memories of Celceta continues the winning streak of recent years. This one is a blast throughout, and any Vita owner with even the smallest speck of interest in a strong action RPG should seek it out promptly.

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'Great' -- 4.0/5
20-40 HOURS

Still fun killing things

A new use for amnesia!

Moving around can take lots of time

Doesn't really conclude, just stops

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