Ys Seven
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2010-09-19 PSP Action/RPG T (Teen) XSeed Games / Falcom

Back at E3 2010 and due to time constraints, I got but a quick look at Ys Seven, but it was enough to make me want to play it. And if there's one thing I like to play on my PSP, it's RPGs! It arrived quite a while after launch, but it was more than welcome here, and I've spent many hours (about 25, actually) cuddled up with it on the sofa.

Ys Seven begins with Adol and his friend Dogi arriving in the port of Altago City. The local troops - Dragon Knights - are suspicious of the mysterious red-haired traveler, but fortunately their king has heard about Adol's exploits and asks him to investigate some current events. Whie searching for the cause of the appearance of monsters, the situation only becomes worse and a dark story slowly unveils. Powerful creatures named Titanos roam the land; people all over fall ill and die from Iskan fever; a dense fog engulfs the capital; a strange hole appears, threatening to suck all life in. Can Adol once again save the world? Or are we surely headed to the end? The more I played Ys Seven, the more I wanted to know the answer to that!

Hacking and slashing through the continent of Altago in search of answers, you control one active party member, with the ability to switch between all three at will. This is particularly useful, since each type of weapon is effective against a certain type of monster. While AI-controlled characters will still attack, they won't be as effective as if you were controlling them. Non-active party members will still gain experience and level up, and you can always swap party members whenever you choose, with the exception being boss battles.

In your first moments in Altago City, you will have a brief tutorial about the different types of weapons and attacks. You can repeatedly mash a button to attack, but you can also press and hold it to do a more powerful attack. You can also attribute skills to certain keys, and use them while pressing the right trigger and respective key.

The skill system of sorts relates to your weapons. Each weapon has specific skills, and the more you use a particular skill, the better you become at it, and you will level it up. You can map up to 4 skills at once, but you must accumulate SP to use them, which you earn by attacking. Each character also has an extra skill - a special devastating attack, if you will - but those will be attributed only much later in the game.

Aside from the hack and slash, you can dash/dodge roll out of the way of enemies. You can even just use the dash to cross a zone much faster.

The different dungeons have interesting designs and elements that require a bit of environmental puzzle-solving with the help of special items. For example, you will come across something that lets ou breate under water, boots tat allow you to walk over and break spikes (Castlevania inspired, perhaps?), a cloak that allows you to use wind currents to float up to higher places, ice grips for slippery surfaces, and so on. Areas that seemed inaccessible will be reachable once you find these special items, wich are then usable by the entire party simultaneously.

Other neat features include the ability to save anywhere, convenient teleporting points, handy HP recovery spots (usually placed before a boss), a retry system for boss fights, item and equipment synthesis and plenty of optional sidequests.

I especially liked the characters that I grew to love or hate as I got to know them better, the great orchestrated soundtrack, the lovely graphics with plenty of little details, and the plot twists! I think my jaw dropped a couple of times as the story went on and events were revealed, and you should have heard me when I discovered that after visiting all the dragon altars I'd have to go around and do it all again, to find their sanctums. And when I found the first dragon and was told I had to defeat it to prove I was worthy, I started getting mad. Let me save the world, already! Can't you just give me your power? And now I have to do it again and again with all the other dragons? People are dying! Blargh!

...Yes. I said blargh. Outloud.

My point is, I was really into the game and the whole "save the world" thing, right up to the last moment when the credits stopped rolling. Ys Seven is a great hack-and-slash RPG to have on the PSP, and I can't wait for Adol's next portable adventure.

Special thanks to Kyla Keefe and XSEED Games for providing a copy of this title.