Ys Seven ReviewGreg Knoll
At the risk of tarnishing my integrity, I'd like to go on record and say that it took me a long time to finish Ys Seven. That's not because I had to push myself to drudge through it, or that I took a long break from it to clear my head.
Ys is one of those extremely rare games that I had to complete 100%, regardless of whether it would garner me a trophy, bragging rights or a simple moment of prideful elation. I didn't want it to end so I found excuses to keep playing, be it leveling up my characters so they were demi-gods, scouring the land in search of a hidden item or seeking out an ultimate weapon.
Ys Seven is that good.
Like many, I enjoyed The Ark Of Napishtim and that was a strong driving factor in me playing the sequel. What I didn't expect was how well Falcom would build upon an already stellar design and concept.
Seven follows past hero Adol and his loyal companion Dogi directly after the events of Napishtim, to a land called Altago. Without even taking a breath or a vacation, Adol sets foot onto the new island, immediately in search of a new adventure. His reputation proceeds him, and word of his travels reach the king long before the fire-haired warrior does. Knowing already Adol's thirst for excitement, the king asks him for what appears to be a simple favor-investigate the strange ruins that have only recently opened up due to an earthquake and report back to him on his findings.
And the moment Adol steps out of the palace, Ys takes off and never looks back. It starts with the introduction to the new weapons, and the addition of skills. Ys combat system has typically been made up of a two-button system: one to attack, one to dodge. While that remains, Altago is a superior land, and with it come finely crafted blades-ones that collect soul power which later can be unleashed in dozens of ways in the form of special moves. Once the weapon is equipped, the choice is given to attach your first skill to one of four slots, each corresponding to a button on the controller. Once you're in battle, holding the R1 button will put you into skill mode. Tapping the button you chose prior, unleashes a flurry far more devastating than the simple hack-and-slash.
It's an incredibly easy system to learn, but at the same time it's addictive. You're still only inputing one or two commands, but the variety supplied by the skills is immense. One skill finds Ado leaping into the air, launching an enemy with him. In mid-air he stops his descent and brings the sword crashing down-monster along with him. Another plays out like a jackhammer, where Adol thrusts his blade out in rapid motion-so fast you can barely see it move-then hammers it down one last time to seal the fate of anyone unlucky enough to be caught in front of it. The moves are fast, and Soul Power (SP) can be accumulated in a number of ways, and quickly I might add, so the potential of a battle-even towards the end of the game-becoming remedial is non-existant. Seven also grants you the ability to switch between characters, each with a new weapon and new skills to master and visually appreciate. Most skills are unlocked as you acquire better weapons, but occasionally you will fulfill a storyline requirement and open up a world of completely different powers. The first came very early in the game, and what's known as an extra skill-or better put: a regular skill in overdrive. Adol's blade glows bright while he whirls it in every direction, and ends the melee with a piercing ray of light that obliterated everything in its path-even bosses.
Putting it so early in the story was a stroke of genius. It was so captivating that I had to continue playing, just to see what I would unlock next. I'll save you from any spoilers, but I will tell you that each new power was far superior to the one that came prior.
Before I knew it, I was immersed in the world of Altago. Originally I had only opted to drive through because of the powers, only to become captivated by the story. Beautifully written it was, yes, but it also mixes in tragedy and despair. You come to admire Adol and how driven he is to come to the aid of complete strangers; admire his resolve and relate to him-even though he doesn't say a word the entire game. At times, I worried that I was in for a clich revelation-and yes, I was somewhat egotistical in thinking I could predict the outcome-but as it was with my opinion on the combat-I really had no idea how truly powerful and original Seven would be. There are at least half a dozen moments where you think one thing is going to happen, only to be slammed in the face by a plot twist you never saw coming. I was pleasantly surprised. Wait, sorry, let me rephrase that: I was blown away.
So became my impression on Ys Seven entirely. It's mesmerizing and intense. I would have enjoyed a cut-scene or two, or more side-quests, but that's simply me in need of justification to spend another several hours in a world I'm desperate not to leave. I've committed to forty already, all of which past by in a heartbeat. And that alone should speak volumes on what a magnificent game this truly is.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.
May I have the strength to lead with compassion. May I have a resolve strong enough to inspire it in others. May my heart be true, my motives virtuous, my spirit valiant. And whether I fail or succeed, may I at least be brave in the attempt.
About the Author: Greg Knoll
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