• Jake Lawson

[Review] Ys Origin [Nintendo Switch]

Over the course of the past years, many of the Ys games have received ports for several platforms, whether on PC or consoles. The same goes for Ys Origin, which originally came out all the way back in 2006 and has now made its way onto the Nintendo Switch with the help of Nihon Falcom and Dotemu. I have seen a lot of Ys-related content all over social media that piqued my interest in the series in the past, so when I was offered to review this new release, I happily accepted.


Please bear in mind that I am completely new to this series myself. I have never really played any Ys games prior to Origin, so I apologize in advance if my descriptions might come off as raw or inaccurate to those who have a lot more experience with them.


Origin is a prequel to the first game, taking place 700 years prior. Set in the beautiful world called Ys, the people live in tranquility and happiness. Soon though, their peace is disrupted when hordes of demons begin to sweep the land, destroying everything in their way. In reaction, the twin Goddesses named Reah and Feena use the Black Pearl, the very object that blessed the people of Ys with miracles prior to the catastrophe, to provide any leftover survivors shelter in a temple up in the sky. But that does not stop the demons – in fact, they just end up building a tower that reaches said temple. All of a sudden, the twin Goddesses disappear without any warning and it is now up to our heroes to find and return them.


Gameplay


At the very beginning of the game, you choose between two characters. On one hand you have Yunica Tovah who wields axes and swords to cut through hordes of enemies while on the other, there’s Hugo Fact, a sorcerer who deals great damage with his magic. By completing the characters’ respective stories, a third character named The Claw can be unlocked as well; however, I do not want to give away too much about them for people who are interested in finding out about them and the game itself on their own.


The game’s system is fairly simple to comprehend; fans of both arcade platformers and hack ’n’ slash games will feel right at home when playing Ys Origin as you grind your way through hordes of enemies waiting to cut you up inside the Devil’s Tower. This can be taken quite literal, as you can adjust the gore level in the settings and paint the body red with the blood of rampaging monsters. I found this kind of funny as I did not expect splatter and body parts flying through the air to go as well together with the game’s art style. Once you fill up your Boost Meter completely, you can unleash more powerful attacks on the enemy which is incredibly useful when facing any opponents that have a strong defense. It’s noteworthy that you should try to evade the enemy’s attacks as frequently as possible as they can do unexpectedly high damage. At times, enemy projectiles and the patterns in which they were fired off reminded me of Touhou’s bullet hell manner, but in a good way.


The gameplay does not just consist of mindless slashing though – often, you will need to take time to solve puzzles or locate new items that will actually play a vital part in keeping you alive throughout your journey. For example, one artifact allows you to see paths hidden in the walls that are not visible to the naked eye. This is why Ys can be described as one of those games that will make you look for new objects in every little corner. As a newcomer to the Ys games, I often made the mistake of either underestimating my opponents or just carelessly dashing through new areas I hadn’t been to before - which easily resulted in me dying and having to start over again from my last checkpoint. For some, this might be a little off-putting but I rather enjoyed the challenge and not having it all play out for me too easily. In addition, this port also has a speedrun mode for anyone who loves to push their own limits and wants to see how quickly they can finish the game.


In terms of performance, Ys Origin does not disappoint. The game runs smoothly both in handheld and docked mode, regardless of whether you are facing just a single opponent or if you got multiple monsters on-screen that are coming for you. Both the character models and the game’s art style used for sprites reminded me very much of old-school anime designs. I believe that this stays true to the style and charm of the Ys series. Alongside the visuals, the soundtrack is beautifully composed as well.


Verdict


Despite the gameplay being on the simpler side, I did enjoy the game a lot. It requires a bit of thought to progress through the story, but it also does not drain you with endless contemplating of which equipment setup works best. It was a lot of fun exploring the seemingly endless halls of the tower with the mashup between platformer and hack ‘n’ slash elements. The multi-layered telling of the story with the views of different characters is also a big plus for me. It's easy to tell that a lot of work was put into this port. Overall, I can highly recommend this game to anyone – Ys beginners and veterans alike.


Overall rating:

8 / 10


Pros:

+ great to play in both handheld and docked mode + simple, yet witty game mechanics + captivating storytelling


Cons:

- might prove a bit difficult for beginners at first - gets repetitive at times


This review covers Ys Origin for the Nintendo Switch. I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to Nihon Falcom and Dotemu for providing me with the opportunity to play this game and write this review.

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