First thing's first. People seem to have confused Ys The Oath in Felghana being Ys7 so I'd just like to make it clear Felghana was really more of a side story like Ys Origin. I guess that's why Falcom decided to write the English word "Seven" instead of using the Roman numeral.
So the Ys ARPG series has reached its seventh title, "Ys Seven" and rather than releasing on the PC as Falcom's tradition goes, we have it on the PSP this time. Not only that, you even have two AI party members to accompany our you. But does it work when the action has always been so fast paced?
As far as the storyline goes, it's the typical good versus an ancient evil set in a fantasy world.
Dogi and Adol reach the Capital of Altago in an attempt to find more adventure. While exploring the town, they get into trouble trying to save two sisters who were being harassed by the local Dragoons. They are thrown into the cells but thanks to their reputation as adventurers, they get a request from the king to help him investigate some strange earthquakes going on lately but his men hasn't managed to find anything. On their way, they find out the Five Dragons are awakening once again to prevent a great evil, lending their power to Adol to help stop it.
In previous Ys titles, you had to switch between elemental weapons to damage monsters and bosses. It's not much different this time except you change party members and use different attacks. Adol's slash attacks are effective against general monsters while Dogi's smash attacks are effective against monsters with hard armour.
Your two other members are basically controlled by the AI while in combat and as you would expect as with other RPGs, you can set how they attack in general and are a little on the dumb side because they don't seem to know how to dodge. On the plus side, as your party member numbers grow, you'll find that having different members also give you stat boosts such as Dogi increasing the chance of stunning the enemy so it increases the strategy element involved.
You still run around maps level grinding, filled with little traps to deter you but now there are natural resources to collect for making weapons so there's more choice compared with the very restricted choice you had in all the predecessors. You can spend more time collecting the material you want to equip yourself (or your entire party) with better weapons or just race ahead. Levelling up alone seems to work just fine though and the differences between the weapons don't really entice you into spending time making them.
I'm not so tolerant of level grinding games as I used to be considering what hardware is capable of today - There really shouldn't be an excuse to simply make the player button mash their way through the entire game, performing the same tricks over and over again. However, I have still enjoyed the Ys series because its levelling pace is much quicker compared to most other games.
Saying that, the pace actually feels slightly slower than before. Maybe because the buttons don't feel quite as responsive and you don't have group of enemies attacking you at once.
The same could be said of boss battles because most of them don't seem to be on the same scales as the 3D predecessors and the game will let you know when they're about to unleash a "Rush". That said, there are the odd few that remain pretty challenging because of their multiple of AoE attacks as usual which means your reflexes have to be quick enough to dodge at the right time. The catch is, the game isn't over once our fiery-haired hero Adol dies because you simply switch over to one of your other party members which lowers the tension previous titles had.
Also, not being to jump the same way as before feels kind of restrictive. Instead of actually jumping high into the air, it looks more like dodging to the side which kind of confuses you when a powerful attack is headed your way although this design decision could have been made due to the small height of the PSP.
However, another point is now that your whole party has to be wiped before it's game over, the tension isn't quite as high as in previous games. I also miss the combo experience gauge that encouraged you to keep the attack pace up by rewarding you with bonus experience points.
There are side quests to do and thankfully, there's a log to keep track of them but when it comes to the map, it's fairly much useless. All the map shows are the exits with no labels as to where shops are in town etc. but then again, there is only one shop for everything! You'll also find there's not much dungeon trawling involved because the game gives you full maps of the dungeons unless you like hunting for treasure.
Right from the start you're presented with one of Falcom's high quality opening videos as usual but the in-game graphics don't look too bad either. While Falcom games by today's standards aren't the best looking, the environments look very sharp. Everytime you arrive in a new environment, you get a bird's eye tour to see the unique looking textures and architecture with points where you can just stand in the game to gaze over the town even. Other than that you can expect the usual myriad of fantasy environments such as dense jungles, deserts, ruins and molten lava areas.
There's no voice acting again as usual and only portraits are used to show character expressions. There are the familiar Ys sound effects and music is fairly much up to Falcom's excellent standards with some familiar use of the violin although some of the enemy theme music sound off balance with the rest of the game.
In the past, Falcom has always focused its Ys games on the action only and the RPG factor was almost just about levelling up. Now in Ys Seven you have a party and have the option to collect enough materials to equip yourself better giving the game almost as much content as the others in this genre.
It's not a bad experience but personally, I feel having a group of party members who you can switch between and use to take over if you die lowers both the pace and tension of the game. I think it would be more fun if Falcom went back to the old formula.
Time Played 13 hours
- Finally some equipment to choose from!
- Boss battles remain challenging, quick paced fights.
- Sharp graphics and great music from the JDK team.
- Party members level up more or less at the same time.
- Can hold the X button to speed through in-game dialogue and cutscenes.
- Maps aren't labelled or auto-marked.
- Attack button feels slower than previous titles.
- Having other party members lowers the tension.
- Jumping feels more like dashing.
- Missing the bonus experience combo gauge.