Game: Ys Origin
Genre: Adventure | RPG | Action | Platformer
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam, PS4 & PS Vita)
Developers | Publishers: Dotemu
Age Rating: EU 12+ | US T
Price: EU €19,99 | USD $19.99 | UK £17.99
Release Date: October 1st, 2020
Review code used, with many thanks to Tinsley PR.
Ys Origin is a prequel to the eight previous installations of the Ys video game series. It takes place 700 years before the events of Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished and tells much of the backstory of Ys, the Black Pearl, the twin goddesses, and the six priests. The game has three playable characters, Yunica Tovah, Hugo Fact, and an un-lockable character.
While this title was released for PC back in 2006, then on Steam in 2012, it’s now the turn of the Nintendo Switch to host the game.
Since Ys Origin is the prequel to all the other games in the series it’s not necessary to have played any of the other games. Though you’ll obviously get more of the references and understand which blanks are being filled in, no knowledge of the other games or the backstory is actually required to get through it in one piece.
Invasion of Demons
The world is at peace until one day an invasion of demons wreaks havoc on the lands, constructing a massive tower, aptly named the Devil’s Tower. The land of Ys is ruled by twin goddesses, Feena and Reah, but they mysteriously go missing once the invasion begins. So naturally, it’s up to you to find the goddesses, restore order in the land and destroy the demons plaguing your home. Of course, nothing is simple, and the search party gets separated from the Holy army, thus leaving you on your own journey, one which begins at the base of the Devil’s Tower. It might not be the greatest of stories, but it pulls you in more with its emotionally driven heroes.
You’ll begin by choosing your difficulty level, ranging from Easy, Normal to Hard. I started on normal for my first playthrough.
Who Will You Pick?
You have the choice of two characters: Yunica Tovah a young aspiring knight who wields an axe, or Hugo Fact, a stuck-up mage, with the third character unlocked later on in the game. All three characters have the same basic journey but different reasons for going on it, and plenty of unique encounters. However each character playstyle is different, Yunica uses melee attacks and has quick mobility and Hugo uses magic from afar and is slower. This allows you to have multiple playthroughs and see each characters different point of view.
Roam the Devils Tower
Until most RPG games where you roam around a large world, Ys Origin is set in a tower, the Devils Tower, such a lovely inviting name isn’t it!
The majority of your gameplay involves exploring the towers many levels and floors. You’ll be searching for levers, items, and encountering hordes of enemies along your journey.
I hadn’t paid much attention to the blurb for the game so I was surprised by this as I was expecting to be exploring a world with different environments. However, the environments will change while inside the different sections of the tower. While it may not be a large overworld map you’re exploring, the scenery does alter, even if it does all take place inside DevilsTower. You’ll come across water-based floors, fire and more.
Inside the tower, you’ll be finding keys to open doors, finding switches to move platforms, and even searching for hidden secrets. While the general layout of the floors isn’t overly confusing, there’s no map system included and it is possible to get lost if your memory isn’t sharp. I had a few mishaps in direction but a little backtracking and I was back on the right path.
Combat is Fast
Combat in Ys Origin is fast and hectic and very hack and slash based with simple one-button combo attacks. Though Yunica has no magic she can learn wind, fire and earth-based skills that are used for different purposes, be it on enemies or using it to solve a puzzle inside the game’s huge tower.
Speed is definitely the focus of the combat and every defeated enemy drops pick-ups. Money that you gain from kills is spent at Goddess statue save points, where you can upgrade your weapons. Weapons don’t change throughout the course of the game; instead, each character has just one weapon equipped that can be upgraded multiple times with ore.
Combat is basic hack and slash and not the traditional turn-based combat that JRPG’s have, as you simply manoeuvre and attack around the enemy. It is a lot of fun though and the controls are tight and spot on. Attacks feel powerful and it’s always fun to see an enemy explode into EXP gems, items, SP and more. As expected, enemies, in the beginning, will pose little threat. However, as you progress further up the tower, things become much trickier, especially when it comes to the bosses.
Different Modes to Play
Ys Origin isn’t a long game but once you finish the main story mode the other game modes open up. Time Attack mode, speaks for itself your challenged against the clock. In Arena Mode you’ll be facing waves of various enemies from different floors, unlocking new Arena’s as you progress. And in Speedrun Mode, again it is self-explanatory. You can speed run through the Devils Tower while the dialogue can be skipped and you can’t use save points. It’s enjoyable to try out the other modes and see if you’re up to the challenge they offer, it also allows for great replay value in the game.
Visuals and Controls
The 2D sprite characters and animations are pretty good on the Nintendo Switch. I think the game looks well, though the detail of some of the sprites is a little blurry, though that could be just my eyes!
But in saying that for a game that is years old the graphics are fine, it isn’t an ugly game by any means, even when compared to today’s standards. Adding on to the presentation is a soundtrack that knows when to get you in the mood for some fighting and goes quiet when it needs to be, even if it can get a little repetitive. There isn’t any voice acting other than it the opening sequence which is in French with English subtitles.
Controlled fully by the joy-cons, as I’ve mentioned the combat is fast, fluid and with tight controls. Ys Origin ran without any major problems on the Nintendo Switch, there is a little slow down during some of the boss fights but it’s not game-breaking.
Ys Origin is an enjoyable romp through the Devils Tower. For fans of the series, they are sure to enjoy Ys Origin which only adds to an already rich mythology. Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised by this game, Ys Origin on the Nintendo Switch is a great action RPG with old school hack and slash elements, that will appeal to anyone looking for a decent gaming experience for less than Twenty quid on the eShop!
Final Verdict: I Like It A Lot