Hello again, discerning PlayStation Blog readers! Localization specialist Tom here from XSEED Games, to talk to you a bit about Ys: The Oath in Felghana – sure to be the greatest portable gaming experience of 2010! Ys: The Oath in Felghana will arrive on UMD and PSN for the PSP this November.
Some of you may already be familiar with our previous release, Ys SEVEN, and may be wondering how Ys: The Oath in Felghana compares. Well … it’s hard to quantify, really! I’ve previously stated in a few interviews that Ys SEVEN is to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night as Ys: The Oath in Felghana is to Super Metroid, and I really think that’s the best way to explain it. One is a lengthy, chaotic, sprawling experience full of more items and abilities than you could possibly know what to do with; and the other is a much tighter, more streamlined affair, where every single item and ability has a specific purpose and everything fits together like a finely-crafted puzzle. Ultimately, they’re both very different games (despite obviously sharing numerous characteristics, not the least of which is protagonist Adol Christin!), and the preferred title between the two is going to vary quite wildly from person to person.
Me? I prefer Oath in Felghana (by a very small margin, mind you!). And to explain why, I’m actually going to be bringing the Metroid and Castlevania comparisons to a whole other level. Ever hear the term “Metroidvania game?”
Well, that’s pretty much what Ys: The Oath in Felghana is – more or less. Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m NOT claiming it’s an open-ended nonlinear exploration-fest … but it DOES follow the basic structure of this much-beloved action subgenre: you explore your surroundings, find new items or abilities, and use those to push on farther than you ever could before. It’s all one map that’s constantly ballooning around you, allowing you access to places that were previously well beyond your reach.
The level design isn’t as labyrinthine as one would expect from a Metroid or new-age Castlevania title, but it does have that same sense of atmospheric wonderment—that lonely, haunting feel of being by yourself in a hostile land full of crazed monsters, with only your wits and your arsenal of special moves to get you through. You’ll find yourself constantly being taunted by treasure chests that are just out of reach – on a platform too high, too far, blocked off or otherwise rendered totally inaccessible to you … for now. And you’ll file that location away in the back of your mind, knowing that eventually you’ll find a way to obtain that distant treasure … some way … somehow …
And really, that’s the key to this game’s brilliance: its spectacular level designs. Every corner of Felghana is unique and well-conceived, with ample branching paths, pitfalls, puzzles and traps to keep you on your toes as you hesitantly turn the next corner, unaware of what horrors may await you beyond.
And oh, the horrors you’ll find! For those of you who started this series with Ys SEVEN, I implore ye take heed: Ys SEVEN is arguably one of the easiest games in the series, while Oath in Felghana is almost certainly one of the hardest. If you’re expecting a 1:1 correlation between the four difficulty levels in each game (and note that Felghana also adds a “Very Easy” and unlockable “Inferno” difficulty on top of the existing Easy/Normal/Hard/Nightmare selection), you’ll become well-acquainted with that Game Over screen, for sure.
For here in the depths of this forgotten lore, you risk a gruesome death with every new frontier you explore — and likely not one you’d ever considered before! But if these challenges you can overcome, the sense of accomplishment is … second to none! (Hey, it’s a half-rhyme. Half-rhymes count!)
If you’re worried that the game will be TOO hard for you, though … don’t be! As with Ys SEVEN, there’s an unlimited Retry feature that lets you challenge bosses as many times as it takes to conquer them, and even retry individual rooms until you can traverse them in one piece. It’s the perfect mix of cruel and merciful, making for a wonderfully satisfying (and amazingly non-frustrating) overall experience.
I don’t think I can possibly do justice to this game with a single blog entry, honestly. It’s truly one of the most perfect, flawless gaming experiences of the last decade, as far as I’m concerned. It’s not a long game, nor is it a complicated one. But it hits all the right notes, and is genuinely enjoyable from start to finish … and might just make you want to keep on playing it, over and over again, until you beat all six difficulty levels and conquer the infamous Boss Rush mode! Masterpieces like this are the reason I got into video games in the first place, and if you can only play one title this winter, I urge you to make it Ys: The Oath in Felghana. Unless you hate fast-paced action, thrilling exploration, genuine challenge (without frustration) and/or kickin’ rock music, I can’t imagine ANYONE being disappointed with this purchase … Especially if you pick up the limited edition, which is worth it for the soundtrack CD alone!
So go place your preorders! You wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on Super Metroid back in 1994, nor Castlevania: Symphony of the Night in 1997 … and you’re not going to want to miss out on Ys: The Oath in Felghana in 2010, either. Trust me! It’s THAT GOOD!