As a JRPG fan it’s surprising that I got my entry to the Ys franchise with Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana. I’ve played at least one entry of each long running series in this genre, so why not Ys, why not sooner? Honestly I don’t know, but I’m happy I got in when I did, because I’m a fan now. Chronologically speaking, Ys: Memories of Celceta is the third entry in the series, but if we’re going by release date the it’s the second most recent. Originally released for the PS Vita back in 2012, it received generally high praise from both reviewers and fans alike. All that praise however wouldn’t guarantee this handheld entry mainstream success. It sold roughly a quarter million copies globally, which is a lot, but in the gaming world that’s barely breaking the bank, and the reason for those sales numbers despite the great reviews are frankly the PS Vita’s poor adoption numbers. Despite me being a strong Vita advocate, I must admit that it didn’t sell as well as I would like, but that’s a tale for another time. What matters is that it’s installbase, or lack thereof directly impacted sales of great titles. Titles like Ys: Memories of Celceta.
Developed by Nihon Falcom and published by XSEED Games, Ys: Memories of Celceta for the PC is a brilliant remaster of the original.
Ohhh….. The game is goooood, and I mean that. Memories of Celceta is a re-imagining of Ys IV which was originally released as two separate titles for the SNES dubbed, Ys IV: Mask of the Sun & Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys. These two entries were not developed by Falcom themselves, so worry not about them. I just mentioned them for context. Mask of Sun was also remastered for the PS2, so technically this is a remaster of a remaster, but again, not really important.
What is important is my waifu, Karna. You see as any self respecting JRPG fan will know, one does not play a JRPG without choosing a waifu, and then denouncing other waifus as inferior. For as the good books says, “My waifu is better than yours”. And keeping with that I’d like to just mention how good I think this game looks. It’s not the most graphically advanced JRPG out there, but when considering its origin, it’s impressive. The title has received numerous enhancements including improved visuals with a wide range of HD resolutions, unlocked framerates, and fully customizable settings. Prior to this review I mentioned in a separate video that I encountered a small visual bug, along with a way to fix it, so please check that video if you have similar visual issues.
The visuals lend themselves well to the character design with a pleasant mixture of brilliant 2D art and 3D models. As mentioned before, my waifu is best character, but there are many others who come close. When looking at some of their artwork I can’t help but feel excited. It’s a gorgeous looking game on the PC , and I know not everyone is gonna see that, but for a fan like me it totally is. I love the art for every character including the villains, Oh and the music… queue the month ago nostalgia. Hearing music I heard in VIII made me smile. It brought a feeling that usually comes with playing a game from a franchise you’ve been following for years, and it all sounds great.
The map was also fairly reminiscent of the one in Ys VIII for me. It’s a large map filled with lots of places to visit, each with their own look, and visual presence but all connected. This time we’re placed in a large forest instead of an island. A forest filled with awe inspiring locations throughout. This is helped by the fact that the game uses a classic style of predetermined cameras to portray the environments, giving the player the best view of what the developers want them to see.
This technique allows for some awe inspiring locations though I much prefer the camera in Ys VIII which locks on to a subject of interest the first time you encounter it, but then leaves the controls for the camera to the player. In Memories of Celceta the only control of the camera the player has is the panning in and out of it. This is managed by the Y axis on the second joystick while the X axis handles the Ai commands. These being either to avoid enemies or to engage them.
You can have up to three characters in you party at once, and everyone of them is interchangeable, so you can mix and match to find a combination that works best for you. The party can be changed at any time excluding during boss battles. These being some of the most epic encounters in the game, though I feel Karna kinda breaks a lot of them, especially if she’s properly leveled up her skills. Skills being abilities than can be activated by holding the L2/LT trigger while pressing one of the face buttons. You can map up to 4 of them at a time with each having a max level of 3. They level up the more you use them and you gain new ones during battles with enemies near or above your character’s levels. This I believe is to negate the overuse of grinding.
In combat each character has their own type being either slash, strike or piercing damage types. Each is effective against certain enemy types and mixing and matching them is what makes this such a great combat system. Similar to Ys VIII, you are able to perform a timed dodge or guard to gain a small window of bullet time and invulnerability respectively. Personally I just stock to dodging as I’ve never been about that blocking life. Outside of combat the characters are capable of swimming, and each has an ability to interact with specific environmental obstacles. You’ll also gain the use of special items which grant your characters more abilities such as diving in water.
As for the story, well this is where I’m going to be a bit vague. It’s one that truly needs to be experienced rather than being told about, so here’s the gist of it:
Knowing nothing but his name, Adol Christin awakens to find himself in the town of Casnan, a bustling frontier village at the edge of an endless sea of trees and untamed wilderness. Bereft of past and purpose, he is left to wander the town until a mysterious information dealer who claims to know him winds up joining him on a sudden mission to rid the local mine of monsters. This unexpected quest reawakens Adol’s instincts as an accomplished swordsman, and together with Duren, his adventures attract the attention of a Romun Army general stationed in the town. Impressed with their skills, she enlists the pair to assist in mapping the Great Forest of Celceta – a task which many have attempted but none have ever returned from. Far from the frontier’s edge, Adol and Duren will have to brave the dangers of Celceta while constantly keeping an eye out for any clues that may help Adol recover his lost memories. More importantly, Adol must use his best judgment to decide whom he can trust and who is using his memory loss in order to deceive him.
Ripped straight from the publisher’s press release. It’s a tale that gets more and more intriguing the more you progress the plot. The look, feel and sound is very Ys. Something fans should appreciate greatly.
The game is a great port, however is not without its flaws despite how limited they may be. The most major ones being aforementioned the resolution settings which can be fixed by running the game in borderless windowed mode instead of full-screen. Another is the key binding which I found to be troublesome throughout my experience due to special moves, and character specific abilities being mapped to the same buttons with only a modifier separating them. My recommendation is to switch the modifier to a bumper instead of the default trigger to help limit the accidental use of certain abilities. The entire control scheme is remappable, and supports keyboard and mouse, so every player should be covered.
Ys: Memories of Celceta is a perfect remaster of a remaster for the PC. The controls, and visuals may take some getting use to if you played Ys VIII before this, but the story is just as epic. It’s well paced and filled with twists and surprises from beginning to end. Fro fans of the Ys series this will be a welcomed addition to their collections. In fact the nostalgic feeling is very present in this game due to the music, look, and easter eggs. And though this game is mainly focused on a cast of new characters, familiar faces do make an appearance. So for what this game is, and for the price it’s going for I can easily recommend it to any fan of JRPGs. It’s not very demanding, or expensive, but it’s a lot of fun.
The copy of Ys: Memories of Celceta used for this review was provided to us by it’s publisher, XSEED Games.