Graveyard: Ys: The Oath in Felghana

Out back of the Hardcore Gamer office you’ll find our Graveyard, where countless long-dead classics lie. We come here to pay our respects, to reminisce, and to wonder aloud what a passing mad doctor might be able do with all these corpses and some high-definition lightning.

You may not know this about me, but I’m a pretty big Ys fan. It won’t be long now until Ys: Memories of Celceta releases in North America, and it’s on my to-buy list. Since the series debut in 1987, there have been several releases over the years as well as re-releases, and as these glossy new updates are subsequently released, my respect and admiration for the cult classics grows and grows. You have to respect games that can open up a brand new world for gamers who have never experienced them before.  A favorite of mine is Ys: The Oath in Felghana, a journey RPG fans should certainly take.

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Ys: The Oath in Felghana gets off to a rousing start, quickly introducing players to staples Adol and Dogi, making their way to town after getting off of a boat, on the way to a sleepy little town known as Redmont. Dogi reminisces about the carefree days of his childhood, but is soon interrupted by a savage bark ringing through the air. Adol and Dogi rush to find the source, only to be met with a doe-eyed blonde named Elena, under attack by wolves. After scattering the wolves, Adol and Dogi continue to make their way into Redmont, where they discover that malevolent forces are threatening the townspeople, par for the course in most JRPGs, and it’s up to them to stop it. Thus, The Oath in Felghana begins.

Adol’s journey to get to the bottom of the evil threatening Redmont is a strict, traditional one, offering plenty of town exploration, dungeon conquests, and puzzles to solve on the way. You might be expecting other mechanics to follow suit, since this is a very classic, old-school adventure that you might be used to if you’re a seasoned RPG player, but that’s actually not the case. Upon a smashing defeat doled out by a particularly nasty boss, you are given the option to try again, saving precious time and preserving your sanity just a tad longer. Similarly, the option to transport to past save points previously visited throughout the game via use of a magical pendant is a boon, especially when navigating dungeons, the bane of plenty of gamers’ existence – getting killed in one is almost a sure thing sometimes when you’re caught without the right equipment (or in this case, healing herbs.)

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Speaking of heart, the game has one of the best soundtracks this side of 2010, at least erring on the side of RPGs. Not that true Ys fans will be surprised, as it’s got a timeless feel to it, combining thunderous rock, thumping dance beats, and other subtle nuances, making each and every new area feel like a brand new game as far as its theme music goes. It’s really something to behold, especially if you’re a fan of work such as Nobuo Uematsu’s masterful Final Fantasy scores, and a soundtrack you might consider purchasing after having spent several hours in-game humming along to familiar motifs over and over.

Ys: The Oath in Felghana is a fantastic way to experience the third entry into the fabled Ys saga, especially if you’ve never done so before. It’s quick, traditional, but not yet full of boring fetch quests and filler to artificially lengthen the narrative. Really, more RPGs should follow its example and let the story run its natural course, rather than drag on where the narrative should’ve ended hours ago. Check it out if you’re not up to your eyeballs in next-gen goodness!