While the Ys series has ventured into more of a storytelling bent compared to its original gameplay-focused roots, it’s always had a solid foundation of the latter in each entry along with some kickin’ music. So when XSEED Games announced they were porting Ys Seven to the PC, which originally released on the PSP all the way back in 2009, it was going to see how the port fared as it was built for that handheld specifically and was the start of the narrative focus for the series. So how did the port turn out? For the most part, very well in fact.
In Ys Seven, Adol and his buddy Dogi have set out on yet another quest, this time taking them to the far-away land of Altago, where they are looking for adventure and treasure. Ys fans should be used to this storyline by now as this is essentially how each of the game's storylines starts out. But things quickly take a turn for the worst as they begin to learn of a seemingly random sequence of events and illnesses afflicting the land. And as expected, the King of Altago asks Adol and Dogi to investigate the events, which lead the duo, along with a plethora of other playable characters, in an effort to save Altago from impending doom. While this sounds like all of the typical RPG tropes bundled into one — which save for a few plot twists it is — the game itself is so much fun that you'll overlook these issues.
In a change for the series, Ys Seven allows you to now control three characters. Like in the most recent Ys entries you can both attack and dodge roll, as well equip various items that can alter your stats and/or abilities. Attacks can be charged up by holding the attack button, and by delivering enough attacks a meter will fill up, giving you access to four different skills. These can be swapped in and out in the game's menu and range from small, cheap attacks to massive attacks which deal loads of damage at the cost of using up more of the meter. And once you've used up enough of those skills, there's another meter which unleashes a special "Ex" skill which is complimented with flashy graphics and a cut-in of the character who executed it.
For advanced players, the battle system has some other unique features. There are three different weapon types in Ys Seven: slashing, heavy weapons, and projectiles. This is where switching between characters becomes important, as some enemies are resistant to certain attacks and are weakened by others. As I played through the game there were numerous instances where I switched between characters to deal the most damage, and the ease with which the game allows the player to do this keeps things from getting bogged down - a trait many games which employ this method usually get wrong by making the system too cumbersome. Even after playing 20+ hours in the game, the combat never gets old because you can try out new techniques and approaches, so no one battle ever feels the same.Ys Seven, as explained above, allows those not used to the action RPG genre to gradually immerse themselves, while experienced players can make use of the game's advanced techniques, which become very important in the game's boss battles.
In Ys Seven, each of the bosses feels extremely unique, with multiple attack patterns which test the player's reflexes and memory to evade damage and get behind the enemy for a sneak attack. This is where one of the game's more advanced techniques, the "flash guard", comes into play. This works by executing it just as the attack hits the character — if successful the damage is negated and the next strike on the enemy will be a critical attack.
In the game's harder difficulties this technique becomes imperative, as each boss's patterns become that much more involved. None of the bosses ever feel the same, and with 15+ bosses in the game, this is quite an impressive feat, with some of the game's later bosses being quite breathtaking in their depth, including one boss where the player must run from the boss while being chased from behind, which gives an incredible sense of satisfaction after the boss is beaten.
As was noted before, the game's story takes a backseat to the impressive gameplay mechanics, although there are quite a few different locals, which do take note of the common elemental-themed tropes in RPGs, but each area's locales feels fleshed out thanks to XSEED Games' excellent localization, which never feels stale. While not required, several side quests are available throughout the game, which range from generic to important items which give impressive stat boosts. There are also a few difficult optional bosses who test the player's limits and are just as involved as the numerous storyline bosses in the game. Last, but not least, the game features a very impressive soundtrack, which is leagues above the effort put into most games on the platform. Numerous themes in the game, ranging from the boss battles to the towns and even to the themes that play on the fields never feel re-used or rushed and greatly help to immerse the player in the game.
As far as the PC port is concerned, loading times are on par with the original which isn’t a bad thing as the PSP version was already near-instant — a surprise for a disc-based media platform. The major difference is that — if you are playing with a gamepad — the controls are greatly enhanced over the original PSP version. The PSP’s analog nub was sufficient for its time, but it wasn’t the best. The Vita fixed this somewhat, but you still had a smaller screen and the inherent PSP upscaling to deal with. Neither of these factors are a problem with a proper gamepad and computer monitor. Keyboard + Mouse are technically supported and can be remapped, but the default mappings aren’t the best and honestly except for the diehard fans of this setup you’re better off using a gamepad.
The only downside to the port is that the graphics, while clearer, were never meant to be seen in HD resolution and thus have flaws in certain circumstances as the developers never created any higher quality assets (as the game was never intended back in 2009 to be ported outside the PSP). That said, this also allows lower-end devices to be able to play this game without too much trouble, if at all.
This PC port of Ys Seven was an unexpected surprise from XSEED Games and Falcom, and it’s great to have it on a platform where more users can experience it and in a form where it plays well even on lower-end systems. The lack of higher quality assets is a bummer but understandable due to the original development of the game, but that shouldn’t detract those who are interested in picking up the game for the first time. And for those wanting to revisit, the improved controls thanks to the gamepad are a welcome addition.Ys Seven was reviewed using a PC Digital Copy provided by XSEED Games. You can find additional information about Gaming Union's ethics policy here.
|Controls much better with a good gamepad thanks to better ergonomics compared to the PSP/Vita.|
|Still retains the great aspects of the original.|
|Port runs well even on lower-end systems.|
|While there isn't anything that can be done due to the lack of assets, some may choose not to buy the title due to the lack of "HD" assets.|
|Default keyboard mappings are subpar, and while you can remap them most users are better off with a gamepad for this type of game.|