Ys Seven was my introduction to the Ys series, back when it was originally released for the Playstation Portable. After countless hours playing it there, it easily shot to the top of my favorite games list. You can imagine my excitement when I saw it was getting an official port to PC via Steam, especially since my PSP is long dead and incapable of holding a charge (rendering my physical Collector’s Edition useless and unplayable). Ys has been going as long as Final Fantasy has, and as such has quite a prestigious history and an impressive run of games. Let’s take a look at one of the best entries in the series now.
Ys Seven follows the red-haired swordsman Adol Christin and his close friend Dogi as they visit the region of Altago. As usual, Adol finds himself wrapped up in a quest to save the region when he is selected as the “chosen warrior” of Altago by the Five Great Dragons. The Five Great Dragons are the life and soul of Altago, and keep the balance of all things. However, things have slowly begun to become unbalanced over the past several years, and many strange things have become commonplace throughout Altago.
Attacks from giant beasts known as titanos, strange weather phenomenon, and a mysterious illness with no cure known as Iskan Fever are just a few of the things affecting Altago. Our only clue as to why these things are happening are the strange, almost intelligible warnings given my the Great Dragons at their respective Shrines. It’s up to Adol and his friends to find out what’s happening and prevent disaster from befalling the Altago region.
As an action RPG, Ys Seven allows players to freely roam areas and attack any enemies that appear. Utilizing an intuitive hack ‘n slash battle system, Ys Seven never feels boring. Each character can equip a weapon, a piece of armor, an accessory, and up to 4 skills. Each weapon can have a skill associated with it, and to learn that skill the character must build up SP by striking enemies or using charged attacks and then use the skill until it is learned. Changing weapons before the skill is learned halts progress on learning the skill until it is re-equipped.
Each character also has an EX Skill, a super powerful technique that can be unleashed when the EX gauge is full. The gauge is filled when you hit enemies with skills. These skills differ between characters, but most deal massive damage when used. These are best saved for clinch moments during boss battles, or when you knock an enemy over/down.
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Players can have up to 3 members in their active battle party, and can swap between them on the fly with the tap of a button. Each character has one of three damage types: Piercing, Slashing, and Blunt. Each type is effective against certain enemies. For instance, you’ll want to bring Dogi and his blunt Fist weapons into battle against enemies with a hard shell. You may even find weapons that allow characters to have more than one damage type. Adol usually specializes in Slashing weapons, but gets a Piercing weapon in the form of an Estoc midway through the adventure.
Being an active battle system, you can dodge attacks with the press of a button. You can also perform a technique called a Flash Guard, which is basically a normal guard but any attacks used afterwards will have the benefit of a 60% damage increase. It goes without saying, but it’s very well worth learning the timing of guards for that damage increase, especially in boss battles in the three higher difficulty modes.
Along with equipment, the party also has access to healing items that can be used at anytime in battle with the press of a button. There are also special Relic that give certain effects as long as it is equipped. Most of these are required for progressing through dungeons, but some of them can be purchased from shops to provide some quality of life benefits (such as drawing items to you when they are dropped by enemies).
Lastly, Ys Seven has a simple crafting system. Shop owners will give you the option to synthesize certain items, weapons, and armor…as long as you have the proper number of materials for it. These can be obtained as drops from monsters, or gathered from certain points out in the field. Being a hoarder pays off in Ys Seven, as some of the best equipment is only available through synthesis.
When I first played this on the PSP, I was blown away by how great it looked. Everything was crisp and clean, and extremely well animated. This transferred over to the PC version pretty well, but it still looks like a PSP game. There were some minor upgrades made here and there, such as running at a consistent 60 FPS, but there wasn’t a huge upgrade overall in the visuals. For me, this isn’t a deal breaker at all since the game is so incredibly fun, but some people may fault the game for having a lack of visual updates to meet today’s PC graphic standards.
During dialogue, each character has a very well drawn character portrait displayed when they are speaking, complete with facial expressions and little animated flourishes above their heads in certain instances. This brings each character to life and adds great detail to their personalities. There are also some very well animated cutscenes throughout the game at key points These animations look absolutely incredible and would put some anime and cartoons to shame.
The soundtrack for Ys Seven is incredible. Violins mixed with rock and metal instruments never sounded so good. The soundtrack is comprised of 52 different tracks, each a masterpiece in and of themselves. I say this as a big fan of video game music in general, and I would definitely put Ys Seven’s music up there as some of my favorites. Just listen to its opening theme, this cave theme, and this boss theme. Quality stuff, and it all fits into the game extremely well and helps with immersing you into the game world.
Despite the $24.99 price tag on Steam, Ys Seven is more than worthy of a spot in your library, especially if you are a fan of RPGs. An engaging story, fantastic, lovable characters, and a fun battle system all come together to make an incredible experience. Play it however you can, and enjoy it to the fullest. You won’t be disappointed.