Quick Take: Players pick from two heroes, an axe wielding young girl, Yunica, or the wizard Hugo, as they ascend the Devil’s Tower on a quest to find the Twin Goddesses.
Ys Origin is a prequel to the Ys series, originally released for PC in Japan in 2006, then the U.S. in 2012. Now developer DotEmu has brought Ys Origin to the PlayStation 4. Players pick from two heroes, an axe-wielding young girl, Yunica, or the wizard, Hugo, as they ascend the Devil’s Tower on a quest to find the Twin Goddesses. Reminiscent of older action RPGs and previous entries in the series, Ys Origin is a dungeon crawl masterpiece.
The Ys series has been around in Japan since 1987, a few of them even made their way to U.S. homes via the SNES, PS2, and other systems. I remember Ys III: Wanderers from Ys for the SNES being VERY difficult. Ys Origin is not a side scroller but an overhead hack-and-slash-style game, like the original Legend of Zelda for NES. Each area will have a set of enemies to kill and usually some puzzle or switches to find to open the path.
Each floor of the tower, that players are tasked with climbing, contains new enemies to destroy, but be aware, if you leave an area and come back, they all respawn. This is good for gaining experience and leveling up, though. Making sure you find all the hidden chests is important, as many contain items needed for proceeding further. As you progress, gaining experience, new armor, weapons, and abilities, every few floors, players will encounter a huge screen-filling boss. Each one has a different pattern players must figure out and most are rather challenging.
The areas change every few floors to reflect a different theme, and that is usually represented in the boss for that area as well. The levels and enemies can be repetitive, but if you are anything like me, you accept that in dungeon crawlers. The bosses more than make up for it. The sound and graphics in Ys Origin adds nothing new, and obviously being 10-plus years old, they reflect that time period. The story and art are right out of a Japanese animation and fans of anime should enjoy it.
Gameplay is the star of Ys Origin and, as with most dungeon crawling, hack-and-slash games, players must find a system and style that works for them. Different weapons and skills will produce better effects on certain enemies. Some skills are needed to make difficult jumps or to open a door at a crack in the wall. There isn’t much exploring, and the floors and layout of Ys Origin solidify it as more of a dungeon crawl than an RPG, and make it very linear.
Personally, I found going back if I missed an item to be rewarding as repeating floors is the best way to level your hero and save up for upgrades or “Blessings.” Players are not only given the two selectable characters, but also a special third character is hidden as well, and the game even features Time Attack and Boss Rush modes. Each clear of the tower should take about 10 hours or more. These additions give Ys Origin a surprising amount of content.
Ys Origin feels nostalgic for me, even never having played the original. The graphics, sound, the fantastic animation and cheesy story, all adds up to Ys Origin feeling even older than even the original release. That’s good. Few games give me this feeling. Ys Origin is a classic that I was glad to finally play on my console. I am looking forward to any further re-releases of the Ys series and new Ys games. Ys Origin is a must buy for fans and RPG fans, and well worth the wait!
Ys Origin is available now on PlayStation 4. This review is based on a copy provided for that purpose.