by September 29, 2020 @ 8:54 am
Reviewed on Switch
Some games just feel tailor-made for the Nintendo Switch. That’s why it makes sense when games that might be a bit older ultimately land on the system. Ys Origin is one of those games. Sure, it first launched in Japan all the way back in 2006 — before getting a wider release six years later — but this cult favorite feels right at home on Nintendo’s console in 2020.
A Great Starting Point
As its name suggests, Ys Origin is a prequel to the other games in the series, set 700 years prior to the events of the first game. Longtime fans of the series will undoubtedly notice all of the references and themes from the other games, but even then, this is actually a great jumping-on point for newcomers.
The story of Ys Origin revolves largely around Twin Goddesses Reah and Feena, who, in the wake of a crazy battle between good and evil, have disappeared. At the start, you can choose between playable characters Yunica Tovah and Hugo Fact, with an unlockable third character available after you beat the game. While each character plays differently, you’ll also notice minor differences in the story if you take each protagonist for a spin. This helps shed new light on the tale of Ys Origin, which is pretty cool.
A Fateful Climb
Ys Origin is a pretty fast-paced action-RPG in terms of both combat and progression. The action is heavy on hack-and-slash mechanics. Yunica wields a powerful ax while Hugo uses magic, but either way the combat moves at a quick pace.
As you climb the game’s creepy tower setting, you’ll engage in countless battles with all kinds of enemies and monsters. On the normal difficulty setting, the action wasn’t too tough, though I did come across a few higher challenges here and there. Even boss battles move quickly — of course, these big baddies are a lot tougher than your typical enemies. As such, you’ll want to move cautiously when taking on either giant creatures or large groups of enemies so you’re not overwhelmed.
Along the way you’ll collect stronger armor and buffs, increasing your stats and allowing you to pull off special moves, though you won’t notice character and stat growth like you would in other RPGs. Certain attacks, like Yunica’s spin-dash, rely on a meter. Doing this move will drain your meter, but it will quickly refill automatically over time. So while you can’t spam these stronger attacks, you can certainly use them often while taking on enemy after enemy.
You’ll notice a bit of light platforming gameplay as you climb the tower. Sometimes you’ll be rewarded for exploring off the main path, while other times you’ll have to run and jump your way across deadly obstacles to progress. These mechanics aren’t a major focus of the gameplay design of Ys Origin, but they help break up the action as you explore the game’s different areas.
Though it’s not without its share of challenges, there’s something kind of relaxing about Ys Origin. The game definitely has an old school vibe to it, and exploring the tower with no map and slowly figuring out where to go next is highly engaging. You might find yourself getting turned around and accidentally revisiting areas you may have already been to, but that’s kind of a part of the fun. Plus, you’ll never backtrack or get too lost, which is nice — and once you figure out the flow of exploration, you shouldn’t encounter too many issues.
Ys Origin Finds a New Home on Switch
Even after 14 years, Ys Origin has a really charming look to it. The cartoon character designs and simple tower layouts work exceptionally well for this kind of bite-sized RPG adventure. The result is a nice retro look that’s somewhat of a throwback to PS One-era RPGs.
The music in the game is also decent, with catchy themes playing on in the background as you climb the tower and battle enemies. The music may not be especially legendary, but it still does a good job of creating atmosphere for the game.
You can get through Ys Origin in 10 to 12 hours, though the game encourages multiple playthroughs with each of its protagonists. In addition, the Switch version comes loaded with all the extras of the previous editions including Time Attack, Arena Mode, and Speedrun Mode.
There’s something really special about Ys Origin. It’s a simple story with straightforward mechanics, but it all comes together wonderfully to provide a largely satisfying gameplay experience. It has minor flaws, namely its shorter length and lack of character stat customization compared to other RPGs, but it’s still a great deal of fun. Plus, with the ability to play it on your TV or in handheld mode while chilling on your bed or during a lunch break, it definitely feels like Ys Origin has found its new forever home on Switch.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
Author’s note: Ys Origin will be available on Nintendo Switch on October 1, 2020.
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