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   Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim - Staff Review  

When One Sword Isn't Enough
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

BATTLE SYSTEM
INTERACTION
ORIGINALITY
STORY
MUSIC & SOUND
VISUALS
CHALLENGE
Easy/Variable
COMPLETION TIME
7 to 15 hours
OVERALL

4.0/5

Rating definitions 

   Continuing his adventure, the hero Adol finds himself running away from enemy soldiers. He ends up temporarily evading them by boarding a pirate ship, but a naval battle sends him flying overboard and into his next adventure. Though it has come from humble beginnings, the Ys series reaches a new level of fluid, lightning fast gameplay in Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim.

   This time around, Adol has three elemental swords to choose from in addition to his usual array of sword abilities. Each sword has a slightly different special ability and spell associated with it. For example, the lightning sword can allow him to perform a fast thrusting strike that allows him to cut through a line of enemies. This allows players to pick the weapon that fits their fighting style the best, though naturally certain swords have elemental advantages at times. What makes the battle system truly impressive though, is the fluidity of motion. It's very easy to transition from a quick combo to a jumping slash and into a spell. Equally impressive is the speed at which combat moves. He can quickly cut through enemies while dodging attacks from others. Of course, mistakes can quickly pile up as well, but he can carry a small selection of items to remedy the situation. He can also customize himself by equipping accessories that have a surprisingly large variety of effects. These range from the standard defense up and status effect protection items to more interesting effects such as HP drain. Needless to say, the battle system is very good.

Battles are lighting fast and exciting Battles are lighting fast and exciting

   Most enemies Adol encounters aren't very difficult unless he accidently wanders into a place that he really shouldn't visit until later in the game. Provided players regularly upgrade Adol's weapons and armor, most bosses aren't very difficult either, especially if Adol has a full inventory of healing items. Luckily, this difficulty can be increased to the desired level of the player, and even more difficulty levels are unlocked after beating the game.

   One thing that certainly doesn't make things difficult for Adol is the interface. The camera is positioned so that Adol will almost never get attacked by an enemy that is off the screen. Additionally, combat is very smooth as all of his abilities, with one exception, can be executed with ease. The only ability that is difficult to use is a special type of dashing jump attack, but luckily it isn't really necessary for anything in the main quest. The menus are also very user-friendly and allow Adol to make his selections very quickly. The only problem there is the fact that clicking the confirm and exit back to menu button in the options screen actually exits the game and returns to the title screen's menu instead of Adol's in-game inventory menu. This can cause loss of data if the game hasn't been saved recently. Even with those two flaws, the interface is still beautifully set up so that it doesn't interfere with the lightning-paced gameplay. There really isn't anything bad to say about the localization either.

   The story itself is also a bit above the average action RPG. There are plenty of major characters and storyline development. While it isn't very impressive next to games like Xenosaga, the story is still enough to keep the game interesting.

No fair! No fair!

   Ys VI is one of the shorter action RPGs due to its fast-paced battle system. As a result, finishing the game in about seven hours is possible. Of course, there are a few optional things to do that can extend this time frame, especially if players spend a lot of time leveling up. This can easily extend the length to about fifteen hours.

   Thanks to the short length of the game, none of the music becomes repetitive. This is also helped by the fact that the music is generally pretty high in quality, with the boss music being particularly good. The background music blends in nicely with the mood it is trying to convey.

   The 3D visuals are far from impressive by today's standards, but at least they do not cause very much loading time. A few enemy and even boss models are also reused with slightly different colorings. This is compensated for, to a degree, by FMVs and some beautiful artwork.

   The one place the game suffers the most is in originality. This is understandable though; it's an oldschool game in a long standing series. Though virtually everything in the game has been done in its predecessors or in other similar action RPGs, Ys VI still manages to put a small spin on most of them.

   Ys VI combines lighting fast gameplay with a story which may not be particularly impressive compared to most RPGs but is still slightly superior to most action RPGs. The visuals, aside from the artwork, may be far from impressive, but graphics definitely don't make the game. The high quality music more than makes up for this shortcoming anyway. It may be a little on the short side, but almost every minute has enough action in it to easily make up for this fact. Overall, Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim is a fun and well-designed action RPG that is certainly worth checking out.

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