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   Ys: The Oath in Felghana - Staff Review  

Simply Ys
by Michael "Macstorm" Cunningham

Ys: The Oath in Felghana
PLATFORM
PSP
BATTLE SYSTEM
4
INTERACTION
3
ORIGINALITY
3
STORY
3
MUSIC & SOUND
5
VISUALS
2
CHALLENGE
Moderate
LENGTH
Less than 20 Hours
OVERALL
3.5/5
+ Simple and streamlined with addictive combat.
+ Challenging boss fights.
+ Nice blend of fighting and platforming.
- Platforming is occasionally frustrating.
- It's over pretty quick.
- Ys Seven fans will miss having a party.
Click here for scoring definitions 

   Ys: The Oath in Felghana is the second PlayStation Portable title from Falcom to hit North America as part of the company's partnership with XSEED Games. Like many Falcom games, Oath has a long history, as this is not its first incarnation. The Oath in Felghana was first released on the PC in Japan back in 2005 before being ported to the PSP. Oath itself is even a remake; it's based off of Ys III: Wanderers from Ys, a game which has also seen many different versions from 1989 all the way up to 2005. This marks the second time this story has been told in English, but the first time with 3D environments and a fully voiced cast.

   To many, the trademark aspect of the Ys series is its fast and furious combat. The Oath in Felghana is no exception to that rule, as battles are smooth and quickly paced. Players take up the mantle of the red-headed adventurer Adol, and Adol alone as Ys Seven's party system was an exception to the series. While Adol might be by himself, he is more than able to handle all the monsters on Felghana with his sword alone. As the game progresses, Adol will gain access to new skills such as fireball magic and a whirlwind sword attack. These attacks are not just used for combat however, as the game delves into quite a bit into platforming.

   While combat in The Oath in Felghana is quick and seamless, the platforming stands in a bit of contrast to it. Most basic jumps are simple enough and have a low cost of failure, but missing one of the really tricky jumps will usually result in having to trek four or five screens back to the area to reattempt it. These leaps of faith usually require jumping, starting a whirlwind attack, and finishing the double jump before the spin activates. It requires precise timing and might easily frustrate those who are not as skilled at platforming. It's like missing an exit on the interstate and instead of just being able to turn around at the next exit, having to drive all the way home and start again. These trouble areas are not prevalent, but there are enough to be annoying.

Please keep the platforming away Jump, spin, fall, shout.

   Oath is a very simple and straightforward experience. There is only one shop in the game and very limited inventory available throughout. Players can upgrade weapons and armor slightly, but there isn't much else going on. There is something to be said about this simplicity, as the game focuses less on constantly performing slight upgrades in equipment and just gets right to business. That simplicity rolls over to item management, as there are hardly any items at all. Players can regain health at save points and via drops from enemies, but there are no health potions at all. As enemies are defeated, they will not only drop gold and regen items, but also temporary boosts to things such as strength, defense, or experience gain. The land is fairly small and easy to navigate; and players eventually get an item that will allow them to warp to any save point, making travel even less of a hassle.

   Like with Ys Seven, boss fights are a highlight of the game. These fights are no walk in the park and are made even more challenging by the fact that there is no way to heal during them. Players must be cautious, learning enemy patterns and skillfully avoiding attacks instead of just trying to defeat bosses with brute force alone. This challenge is not a detriment to the game however, as when players are defeated, they can simply retry over and over. Lose enough times in a row and the game will even offer to lower the difficulty level for the fight. This along with a range of difficulties from Very Easy to the unlockable Inferno mode help make this game accessible for gamers of any level.

dragon! Don't mess with my platform, dragon!

   The story for this adventure starts with Adol and Dogi returning to Dogi's homeland of Felghana. The duo arrives to find that monsters have increased in number and are attacking the villagers of Redmont, and being the hero he is, Adol offers to help look into the issue. While the story takes a backset to gameplay, it can be commended for never getting in the way of the game. This simple adventure features a few interesting twists and turns, and its small cast is developed well enough to serve its purpose. The fact that the story doesn't try to overshadow the game itself or drown players in unwanted dialogue is another testament to the game's planned simplicity.

   Graphically, Oath in Felghana does little to shine. Environments are fairly bland and in a few areas dark and hard to see in. The character sprites are decent, but are a far cry from the wonderful artwork that appears during alongside character dialogue. One area Ys games tend to receive high praise in is the music, and The Oath in Felghana is no exception. It's often easy to ignore a soundtrack on a portable system, but this is one soundtrack diverse and enjoyable enough to make a priority. Be it flowing piano pieces or rocking battle themes, Oath's soundtrack is grand. The game's voice acting is also sufficient to compliment the experience, but nothing outstanding.

   As I was playing The Oath in Felghana, I found a number of complaints I wanted to level against it. The game is too short, it offers little variety in terms of equipment and items, the story is too straightforward, and some platforming sections are irritating. The further I got into it, the more those issues became things I appreciated. A short adventure meant that I could play through it again. That was made even easier due to the fact that different options were available to transfer into a second playthrough such as all equipment or the starting level from the prior play. I was even able go back and try to fight bosses again in time trials. The lack of equipment just meant I had to spend less time worrying about whether I needed a long sword, a broadsword, or whatever super sword was available. Less micromanagement where it's not needed is a plus. The simple story meant that I didn't have to sit through lots of dialogue waiting for the next action segment. The platforming sections, well, those were still annoying, but they were at least few enough to not be a deal breaker. For anyone expecting a huge RPG with lots of dialogue and exploration, look elsewhere. This game cuts right to the heart of the matter. Ys: The Oath in Felghana is a fun, albeit simple, ride from beginning to end.

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