- Platform: PlayStation Vita
- Published By: XSEED Games
- Developed By: Nihon Falcom
- Genre: Action RPG
- ESRB Rating: T for Teen
- Number of Players: 1
- Release Date: November 26, 2013
After playing through Memories of Celceta, one thing stuck in my mind – how a series as old as Ys can still maintain the formulaic structure that made it so popular in its prime and still remain relevant. While I will openly admit to this being my first Ys title, I made sure to catch up on the history of the series. Memories of Celceta brought back everything that made the series so popular – the importance of exploration and incredible boss battles are two that come to mind.
Memories of Celceta is a real-time action RPG, so the action is quick and strategic. Facing hordes of enemies may be easy to pass through with minor button mashing at first, but as the game progresses, defensive and counter maneuvers take center stage for the remainder of the game; This is especially true with later boss fights. While the final hours of the game can become increasingly difficult, not once did it become repetitious or annoying. As is with many RPGs, level grinding can ease the tension of these moments and can make the game even easier to complete. Thankfully, the combat is simple to get a grip on, with the square button taking the primary role for attacks and the triangle and ‘x’ button assisting in defensive moves. The various types of enemies also play a role on the combat as well, with certain enemy types being weak to the various attack types – these include pierce, slash and strike. Killing enemies utilizing its weakness rewards players with numerous bonuses as well as special items. All of this in addition to skill moves create a deep, fast-paced and enjoyable combat experience that will keep players entertained for the lengthy story that is to follow.
The second important aspect of the Ys series – exploration – is also equally incredible in Memories of Celceta. The Great Forest is an expansive and huge world populated by creatively designed monsters, epic bosses, hidden items and puzzles to keep the game moving at a steady pace. These items vary between new weapons, minerals, and materials. These items can be used to reinforce weapons with status ailment effects, such as poison or paralysis. With the many options given to players, I often found myself toying with numerous weapons and status abilities to see how it plays out in combat. Safe to say, many battles were not only made easier but even more enjoyable in its own sense. Encouraging exploration, each character unlocked throughout the story has a special ability that usually opens up new areas otherwise inaccessible.
Adding to the exploration aspects in The Great Forest, Memories of Celceta also features various towns that players discover while roaming the forest. These towns play a pivotal role in the story, but also add more to the technical aspects of the game. Starting with the more obvious, the many characters that join the party along the way. These towns – including the starting town – also incorporate numerous quests that players can partake in to unlock anything from rare items to a simple payment of gold. For the most part, these are widely enjoyable and easily accessible. Surprisingly enough, I found myself returning back to the quests board more than actually moving forward with the game’s narrative.
Part of the reason that I might have been enthralled to return to side quests as opposed to main quests might be due to the game’s lackluster story. Failing to deliver a cohesive and interesting plot leaves much to be desired in the rather long main course. The game does encourage players to locate hidden memories scattered to indulge more in the game’s “deep” narrative. However, most of these memories are just as boring as the core story, adding little to the game’s overall story. Even the game’s main characters are a bore and uninteresting, leaving players wanting to care but failing to find a reason to, save for the villains which are rather badass at times. The game is rather nice looking when it comes to the environments and 2D animations, which are remarkable. However, the character designs are almost laughably bad. No mouth movements during conversations, hardly any expressions at all are truly ugly to look at.
Despite its issues, Memories of Celceta does have its core audience in mind and it delivers on that. It is a wonderful RPG experience that any fan of the genre should make sure to pick up. Delivering a deep combat experience that focuses heavily on strategy and crafting mechanics. Action fans looking for a fast-paced experience with some depth involved will also feel well at home. With plenty to offer, Ys: Memories of Celceta gets added among the growing list of incredible RPGs on Sony’s powerful handheld. While there are many gripes, such as the lackluster character designs and mediocre story, the gameplay and mechanics are fun enough to keep players gripped to their system.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10
[Note: A free digital copy of Ys: Memories of Celceta was provided for review. This copy represented the final product.]