YS: MEMORIES OF CELCETA / DEVELOPER: FALCOM / PUBLISHER: X-SEED / PLATFORM: PS4 / RELEASE DATE: 9TH JUNE (US), 16TH JUNE (EUROPE)
Japanese RPG series Ys has been around since 1987, but many of its games have been hidden from western players due to being released on obscure hardware, or only being available in Japanese, or a combination of the two. It wasn't until the early 2010s that official English versions started to surface, and even in 2020 some territories are still catching up with the rest of the world. PS Vita exclusive Memories of Celceta was originally released in Japan in 2012, and now comes to the west following PC and PS4 (JP) ports in 2018/19.
Series stalwart Adol Christin arrives in a strange town with no memory of how he got there. After a chance meeting with his old friend Duran, the pair are drawn into clearing the local monster-infested mine. Seeing how well they work together, the town's commander asks them to helping draw a map of the region, as apparently there are so many monsters out there that nobody else will dare to venture far from safety. Taking up the challenge, Adol and Duran set off to explore the countryside and, hopefully, help Adol regain his memory.
The first thing you notice when starting the game is that it doesn't look too impressive on a big screen. Character models are quite plain, and animations during the in-game cutscenes are very wooden and stilted. There's a distinct lack of texture to much of the environment too. It's all understandable, given the game's origins as a handheld title from the early 2010s, but it's disappointing that the opportunity wasn't taken to give everything a fresh coat of paint for this release.
On the gameplay front, this action-adventure RPG features pretty much everything you'd expect from the genre. There are tons of characters to interact with, quests to complete, rewards to earn, shops to buy and sell weapons and armour and, of course, there's plenty of fighting to be done. The real-time combat allows players to switch between their three chosen party members on the fly, taking down enemies based on their weaknesses, and each character grows stronger as they level up. There are skills to learn too, which function as special moves to use during combat.
The world itself is divided into small and fairly linear sections. This gives the impression of an expansive interconnected world, but it's difficult to shake the feeling that you're being funnelled from one area to the next without any real choice in where you go next. The lack of camera control means the world feels even smaller than it otherwise might do, as it's never possible to take in your surroundings. Areas have multiple exits so there's still plenty to explore, but navigation is hit and miss – most of the time you'll have to rely on checking the world map before making a rough guess as to which general direction you should go.
Memories of Celceta might not blow your mind, but it's still a solid entry to the series. It comes up slightly short when compared to modern-day RPGs, but Ys veterans will undoubtedly be pleased to fill a gap in their collection. It might be a good starting point for those looking to get into the genre too, before tackling some of the bigger and more involved (or evolved) adventures out there.