Falcom’s Ys series follows the legendary journeys of Adol Christin, AKA Adol the Red, a silent swordsman who travels the world in search of adventure. Each game chronicles a different adventure with a new story and a new cast, so if you haven’t played any before Ys Seven, that’s a-okay!
Adol and his large friend Dogi (the Wall-Crusher) arrive in Altago, where their reputation precedes them, and they’re asked by the king to investigate an old ruin, where Adol is saddled with a destiny to save Altago from approaching doom!
After suffering the frustratingly slow first 20 minutes of the game, Adol, Dogi and the player finally reach the fireworks factory, the open plains of Altago – accompanied by the awesome rock-synth soundtrack that the Ys series has long been famous for – where they proceed to beat the tar out of every living thing.
Here’s how the core of the game works. You beat up monsters; they drop materials; you synthesize new weapons with those materials; you learn new skills from those weapons; you use those new skills to beat up more monsters. Not only are you constantly being rewarded for beating things up, it’s really fun to beat things up. Controls are super-responsive; attacks are instant, dodge rolls are lightning quick, and control is switched between party members at the push of a button.
The little differences between each party member combine to provide a lot of variety. Each member has a different weapon type, a different set of at skills, a different super-duper EXTRA attack, and a different passive ability that applies to the entire party (greater attack, reduced damage, extra gold). Each combination of characters is unique, and even when a situation dictates that you should use a certain party, you’re never severely punished for playing with the party you want to use.
Seven’s fantastically fast fighting is its highlight, but it’s nice that its story doesn’t suck, too. It seems harmlessly derivative at first – all anyone really expects of an anime-style adventure game that looks like Ys – which makes the twists that occur later in the game that much more engaging. Characters that seemed like the same old JRPG archetypes do surprising things. The bad guys are not that bad, and the good guys are not that good, and the world of Altago very slowly and subtley gains some real depth as things progress.
Ys Seven isn’t particularly innovative, but it is excellently made. It feels good to the touch. Baddies explode in a shower of light and collectible pick-ups, evasive rolls carry you across the screen, and boss fights test your limits. The only way it could be more fun is if it was multiplayer. Hopefully Falcom makes Ys Eight soon, instead of remaking all of their old stuff like they usually do!