Games that rely on too many clichés can easily become boring and predictable. A lot of JRPGs can fall into this pitfall, with their all too similar battle systems and “find the MacGuffins” stories. Ys SEVEN is certainly one of those titles that had me playing JRPG trope bingo from the off. But, what can I say? Before I knew it, 30 hours of gameplay had whizzed by.
The long running Ys series is well-known for its fast action combat, and red haired protagonist. Naturally, PSP title Ys SEVEN was no exception to this when it joined the franchise in 2010. Despite my love of JRPGs, I’ve never gotten around to trying the Ys series before, so I was keen to check out the HD PC revamp.
Luckily, both the plot and gameplay are very friendly towards new players. We join regular Ys heroes Adol the Red and his companion Dogi, as they arrive in Altago. Here, the king requests that they research the mysterious events that are warping the country. So begins their quest for the land’s elemental dragon shrines, said to hold the power for curing Altago. Along the way, Adol meets a number of new companions, as well as setbacks in the form of monsters, hidden tribes, and the potential destruction of the world. All in all, it’s pretty standard stuff.
That’s not to say that the story isn’t enjoyable, though. I really liked Ys SEVEN’s cast of characters. They feel pretty one note at first, but they all have their own reasons for fighting, making them rather endearing. The only exception to this is Adol himself. He’s the hero of multiple grand adventures, yet his only contribution in the whole game is an occasional nod of silent agreement. It wasn’t long before I just ignored Adol in favor of people who actually cared about what happened.
Fortunately, the general pacing and gameplay move too quickly to worry about getting bored. You control one of three characters in a party while the others run around doing their own thing. Each member has one of three weapons that enemies have strengths and weaknesses to. This essentially translates to a rock-paper-scissors styled system, where you have to switch between characters on the fly. Adol’s sword is perfect for soft squishy monsters, but can’t touch hard armor. Then Dogi runs in to punch them into oblivion. Neither can touch flying enemies, so you’ll need an archer to reach them.
Surprisingly, just having three weapon types never gets old, as new party members are introduced pretty regularly. Other than unique stats, characters have individual skill sets, with up to four being available at one time. These skills actually come from the weapons themselves, rather than leveling up characters. At first, a skill can only be equipped with an associated weapon. Upon using it multiple times, however, the skill levels up and gain power as well as the ability to be used with any weapon of your choosing. Many weapons can be bought in shops, but the best equipment needs to be crafted – hence the healthy amount of enemy item drops.
Ys SEVEN’s combat may sound complicated, but it’s easy to get the hang of. Fights take place right on the map with no extra battle screen. Beat enemies by spamming the basic attack, holding down for a boost in power, or using a special move. Oh, and don’t forget to dodge. The ability to constantly crash through hordes of monsters, leaving a trail of money and items in your wake gets pretty addictive.
If you really get into the combat, then you’ll love how much time you get to spend with it. Unique monsters and varying locations keep things visually interesting. Dungeons also have specific items that make traversing them a little more complicated – such as heavy duty boots to get over spikes, or a cape that lets you fly to higher places.
By far the best parts of the game are the bosses lying in wait at the end of each dungeon. These guys don’t take fights lying down, with diverse attacks, multiple forms, and varying patterns to keep you on your toes. They also take advantage of the battle system, forcing you to switch between characters. The key is often to use someone speedy to dodge attacks, then a hard hitter to run in to do some damage. Each one makes for a satisfying challenge, and a happy snort of victory when overcome.
Unfortunately, the longer you play Ys SEVEN, the more noticeable its repetitive formula becomes. There is very little to do other than following the story and hacking your way through to the next dungeon. Wondering around may find you an additional treasure chest, hidden boss fight, or one of the game’s few side quests. Unfortunately, there are only 20 of these, and the majority are just about fetching items. Some of the rewards are worth the hassle, though, so it is beneficial to seek them out.
JRPG fans are going to recognize a lot of Ys SEVEN in terms of the plot and characters. That being said, there’s plenty of enjoyment to be found within the simplicity. Hacking through enemies that burst into money is forever satisfying, while bosses bring in the perfect level of challenge. Even if it’s not the most memorable game out there, Ys SEVEN is still fun while it lasts.
This review is based off a PC version of the game, which we were provided with.
Ys SEVEN’s simplicity in its story and gameplay helps to make it fun and addictive.