After starting life as a PlayStation Vita game back in 2013, Ys: Memories of Celceta has now been given a new lease of life with a remastered release on the PlayStation 4. That means you can expect a fresh lick of HD paint and some performance improvements across the board (including a slick 60fps frame rate), though those sort of things don’t matter too much if the gameplay hasn’t held up that well over the last seven years.
Luckily, Ys: Memories of Celceta just so happens to be a very fun RPG to play too, even if it is very by the numbers in some elements of its design.
The Ys series has always been one where you can dive in at any point, despite there being consistency with the red-head hero Adol who is always the star of each adventure. Sure, series veterans will probably find plenty of nods to the other releases that they’ll be able to appreciate across the different games, but it’s also set up in a manner where complete newbies to the franchise can enjoy each new entry as a stand-alone experience. Basically, if you haven’t played an Ys game before, don’t let that put you off from playing Ys: Memories of Celceta.
In Ys: Memories of Celceta, Adol ends up losing his memory for unknown reasons – such a common ailment for video game heroes, right? Fortunately, after arriving in the town of Casan, Adol begins to regain some of his memories after encountering a man named Duren that claims to know him and after helping protect the town from some monsters. When the local governor asks for Adol’s help in mapping out the nearby forest then, it seems the perfect opportunity for him to earn some gold and maybe even fully restore his memory.
Of course, this is an RPG, so there’s a lot more going on in the background than initially meets the eye. It might start off as a more personal affair, but it doesn’t take too long before you’re fighting off against the forces of evil and looking to save the world. It’s enjoyable stuff and even adds a bit of quirky humour into the mix, whilst some good writing in-game ensures your interactions with the characters around you are interesting and easy to invest in. You just won’t be disappointed by the narrative – even if it can become a little bit predictable in design the further you progress.
Across your roughly twenty-five adventure, you can expect to spend a good amount of time exploring your surroundings, helping NPCs out with side quests, and clearing an assortment of dungeons that bring with them some unique gameplay mechanics. I was particularly fond of the dungeon design in the game, with a good balance of puzzle solving and combat scenarios to ensure each was fun to get through – you’ll learn new abilities in these dungeons too, which allows you to access what were previously inaccessible areas in other locations. You’ll also find that certain party members have access to specific skills, which encourages you to switch your active party around a bit to take advantage of them. It’s enjoyable stuff and makes exploration feel more like a fun endeavour to dive into rather than a necessity to progress the story.
Another element of the game that I especially liked was the crafting system, which allows players to customise and upgrade their weapons. This doesn’t only make them stronger, but it allows you to imbue special effects or elemental attributes – this could be a game-changer when battling against some enemies and tinkering with the system is essential to ensuring your party are as strong as possible. There’s just a lot of satisfying flexibility to be found in crafting and it gives players plenty to play around with.
The combat of Ys: Memories of Celceta takes place in real-time, meaning you’ll be hacking and slashing away at enemies as you mash away at the attack button to deal out some hurt. There’s a big emphasis on switching characters mid-battle too, with each having different strengths and weaknesses against specific enemies that can make them more effective depending on who you find yourself facing off against. You’ll also fill a meter in-combat that allows you to utilise your different skills, with each requiring a certain amount of the meter to pull off – again, some of these skills will prove more effective depending on the situation you’re in, so it’s a good idea to be strategic and work out the best moments to pull them off.
I’ve always been a fan of action-orientated battling in RPGs, so I enjoyed Ys: Memories of Celceta’s combat. The emphasis on changing up your diverse party and using all of their abilities carefully and in co-ordination with each other was mighty satisfying too, with the blend of character’s actions showing that there really is a fair bit of depth to combat – regardless of how simple some of its attacking mechanics might be.
You can’t JUST get away with button-mashing though, with an emphasis placed on your guarding and evading manoeuvres if you want to survive some of the tougher showdowns. This is something that’s especially important in the boss encounters, with each a lot more epic in scale and spicing things up with additional gameplay mechanics. I almost got some NieR:Automata vibes at times when I found myself facing an onslaught of bullets from one particular boss and it really made for a thrilling encounter in-game. It’s just all good fun and the combat certainly stood out as my favourite aspect of Ys: Memories of Celceta.
Between the exhilarating action-orientated combat and the neat explorative elements, Ys: Memories of Celceta offers plenty to excite RPG fans. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t really do anything too unique from an RPG standpoint and the story embraces all of the hallmarks of the genre in an almost predictable manner, but it certainly does a good job of providing an entertaining adventure that’ll keep gamers hooked in right until the very end.
Whether you’ve played an Ys game before or you’re completely new to the franchise, Ys: Memories of Celceta is a very easy title to recommend for action-RPG fans.
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Publisher: Marvelous Europe
Platform(s): PlayStation 4