December 26, 2010

The View From Felghana

Filed under: Editorial Rants — Tags: , , , , , , , — Mister Raroo @ 6:13 pm

Ys The Oath in Felghana Review
There’s a group of lovable ne’er-do-wells that frequent the library I work at. All of them are past high school-age and their ambitions seem to center on engaging in Yu-Gi-Oh! duels, reading manga, and channeling as much time and energy as possible into playing Gaia Online. Though they might not have found their niche as productive members of society yet, the library is like a home to them, and it’s rather heartwarming to know that they’ve found a place where they fit in.

One of the members of this band of misfits always has a tattered PSP in hand, and he often uses our Internet connection to download new games via “alternative” means. Though I normally frown upon piracy, I know that purchasing new games is a luxury he can’t afford, and no degree of lecturing from me is going to stop him.

Once he discovered I was a fellow gamer, he began attempting to talk shop with me on occasion. His social and conversational skills are far from exceptional, and our discussions are usually awkward, though I would argue charmingly so. I know it probably takes a decent amount of bravery on his part to even approach me, so I’ve always tried to be as friendly as possible.

Recently he marched up over to my desk with a massive grin on his face – “Whys,” he cryptically said. I raised an eyebrow to signify that I didn’t quite follow what he was getting at, “Whys,” he repeated, “I just got the new Whys game.” At this point I deciphered that he was talking about Ys.

“Oh! I think it’s pronounced ‘Ees,’” I smiled. He argued that it was spelled Y-S and therefore was pronounced “Whys.” I decided just to let him have this victory and move on. “That’s cool,” I replied. “Let me know how it is.”

A couple of days later I overheard him talking with some of his fellow outcasts, joyfully chatting about the characters and storyline of Ys: The Oath in Felghana. I chimed in and mentioned that the game sounded pretty good. “It’s not just good,” one of his companions snorted. “It’s amazing!” I was then hit by a wave of voices as they began proselytizing the game’s many wonders.

The group’s enthusiasm echoed in my mind when I booted up my own copy of Ys: The Oath in Felghana, anxious to see if it lived up to their lofty praise. And while I can’t say I’m quite as fanatical about Ys as my young acquaintances at the library are, I came away impressed and satisfied with my experience.

What Ys does best is get to the point, something many JRPGs seem to have forgotten how to do. The opening cinema is mercifully short, and before long you take control of fiery-haired Adol, an adventurer who has come to the land of Felghana with his companion Dogi. It only takes a few minutes of game time before you’re slashing enemies and embarking upon your first quest.

Ys: The Oath of Felghana definitely puts the “action” into Action-RPG.

The Oath in Felghana’s speedy pace is likely due to the fact that it’s a remake of Ys III, which was originally released about twenty years ago. I never had the opportunity to play Ys III, but I did put in a great deal of time with Ys Book I & II on my Turbografx-16, and recall its gameplay was similarly speedy. After plodding through so many sluggish JRPGs in recent years, The Oath in Felghana refreshingly feels like an RPG in fast-forward, especially once you obtain the ability to dash.

The soundtrack nicely supplements the game’s tempo and tone. The Ys series has always been noted for its outstanding music, and The Oath in Felghana does not disappoint in the least. The tunes are rocking! You can’t help but get pumped up to slay monsters when the game’s audio is thumping in your earphones.

Alas, there are some nagging issues with The Oath in Felghana that prevent me from running to the fanatical fan club ranks of its eccentric admirers at my library. For starters, the English dub leaves much to be desired. A minor problem, sure, but compared to the rest of the game’s audio, it really stands out as a sore thumb and detracts from the overall enjoyment.

Additionally, the game’s viewpoint is a little too zoomed out for my tastes. I know I have old man eyes, but sometimes it was difficult for me to see everything that was happening on screen, which is frustrating since the graphics are actually really nicely done. The Oath in Felghana was originally released as an PC game in 2005, so maybe the translation to the PSP’s smaller screen is to blame.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I just never felt much of a connection to the characters in The Oath of Felghana, let alone cared one iota about its storyline. If anything, it seems like the plot exists solely to ensure the game continues to rapidly move forward, with story sequences playing out in brief snippets before the action heats back up. Though I’m glad the game doesn’t become bogged down in cutscenes and melodrama, it would be been nice to have had some reason to care about Adol and the rest of the game’s cast.

But, then again, perhaps Ys: The Oath in Felghana isn’t actually meant for gamers like me. I’m simply not the type of person who builds connections to characters in videogames. Maybe if I were a member of that assembly of outsiders that inhabits my library on a daily basis, things would be different. To them, imaginary locales such as the world of Felghana are where they fit in. Meanwhile, I’m the outcast and weirdo in Felghana.

Despite my gripes with the game, I had a splendid time with The Oath of Felghana, and I appreciate that the game’s developers cut away the fat in order to deliver a fun and fulfilling core experience. The Oath in Felghana is an action game above all else, and it is all the better for it.

To individuals like my fellow gamer at the library, The Oath in Felghana may be a perfect ten. I’m not that generous, but I can’t deny that it is an exceptional game all the same, and is deserving of a place in any RPG fan’s collection. Just make sure you actually support the game’s publisher and developer by purchasing a copy of The Oath in Felghana, instead of nefariously downloading it at your local library!


  1. Sounds good! I have this guy on top of my pile of PSP games to play… I do have a Ys calendar on my desk however to remind me every day that I should probably start playing it ASAP though. :)

    Comment by Ujn Hunter — January 2, 2011 @ 9:56 pm

  2. I downloaded this after I won a copy in the giveaway but have yet to fully dive in since I want to get the other PSP Y’s games before doing so (in Limited Editions if possible).

    Comment by EdEN — January 3, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

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