on December 4, 2013
This Silver Anniversary Edition of Ys: Memories of Celceta is quite nice. The box is big with a metallic embossed logo, about 4 DVD cases in width and slightly taller than the average game case by at least half an inch. It includes the game in a standard Vita case, a 127 page book that is slightly smaller in size than the box front, a small compass in its own tuck box, a cloth map, and a 3 CD Ys music collection in a professional looking tri-fold holder.
The box: Nicely printed, although the cardboard is a bit thin. The interior divider is also thin cardboard, and feels slightly cheap. But hey, I bought this for the game and the soundtrack so it doesn't matter much to me.
The book: This 127 page paperback book has an embossed cover and the color printing looks good. The interior contents include a world lore section, character bios, a strategy guide with some item tables and maps, and an art section in the back. The text is written as if it's Adol's journal. I'd recommend finishing the game before really diving into it as it may ruin some of the mystery of the plot and world areas.
The compass and map: They seem ok. The map is printed nicely but is a smooth polyester cloth, not natural material. These items will just stay in the box on the shelf. Again, if you look at the map it might spoil the surprise of new areas.
The 3 CD soundtrack: This is really where the Silver Anniversary edition shines. This 3-disc soundtrack has a selection of music from every Ys game. Some tracks are original versions and some are arranged versions. For instance the Ys III section has both tracks from Ys III and from the Oath in Felghana, which is the newer remake of Ys III. There are a total of 64 tracks on 3 discs.
- Disc 1: Ys I-III, 19 tracks
- Disc 2: Ys IV-V, 26 tracks. The vast majority on this disc is, no surprise, from Memories of Celceta.
- Disc 3: Ys VI, SEVEN, Origin, and 1 track from The Typing of Ys, 19 tracks
The Ys games are known for their awesome, upbeat guitar rock soundtracks and this collection doesn't disappoint. The Ys Origin tracks are particularly amazing. I would prefer a few more tracks from Ys Seven, but you can buy the Ys Seven soundtrack from the Xseed store for $5.
So far I've spent close to 10 hours in the game, and it is exactly what I wanted it to be. I mean, it's an Ys game, so it's no surprise that it's a fun, action packed RPG. Most of your time is spent exploring environments and killing monsters which nets you experience points, gold, and materials to use in upgrading your weapons and armor. Every once in a while you fight a big boss monster and move the story along.
The main character, as in most Ys games, is red-haired Adol Christin, but during the game you can instantly switch between your party members by pressing the Circle button to keep fighting as the other characters. Adol uses swords and does Slash damage which certain monsters are weak to, whereas his buddy Duren fights with fist weapons and does Strike damage which other monsters are weak to. Slaying a foe with the attack type it is weak to will get you extra gold and possibly rare crafting items.
Every character has a set of skills that you can unlock and level up by using. So far I have 4 skills with each character. They can be equipped to work with the R trigger + a face button of your choice. Some of them are pretty cool. If you use a skill as the final blow on an enemy you perform a Skill Finish which gives you back half of the skill mana (SP) used and some life energy.
The exploration is fun and it keeps all kinds of stats in your journal for nerds like me: percentages for map completion, item completion, quest completion, number of enemies killed, aerial combos, etc. The journal keeps track of all the main story beats, active quests as well as those you've completed. Also in the journal is an extensive monster log that shows stats and materials you have acquired from them.
Speaking of material drops, it's pretty rare that you don't get a drop from a kill. You get a TON of upgrade material loot. There are also harvest points in the game world (and a stat for how many harvest points you've used!) You can trade the common materials for better ones at a shop. With these materials you can add, to your weapon/armor, such effects as higher attack damage, poison chance, paralyze chance, elemental damage, etc. It's not super complex, but it's complex enough. I love stuff like this that adds depth to a game.
Overall, great game and package. Really glad I bought the special edition for that soundtrack. I'm sure the book will be enjoyable after I finish the game. The Vita needs fantastic games like Ys, and I'm really grateful that Xseed localized it. If you like hack and slash action games, leveling up, and upgrading items I definitely recommend this game for your Vita.
on November 27, 2013
Since "Ys: Foilage Ocean in Celceta" had been released in Japan, I had been eagerly awaiting for the guys over at XSEED Games to announce any details on a state-side release (presuming they would do so since the same had been done for Ys: Chronicles I&II, Oath in Felghana, and Ys: SEVEN, all released for the original PSP). Once word had gone out that Ys: Memories of Celceta, the re-rendition of Ys IV was being translated and brought over to America, I knew I had to buy a Vita.
Prior to playing the most recent title, I had dabbled in the series through its various steam releases, including Ys: Origin, and the well-renowned Ys: SEVEN that had been released for the PSP back in 2010. I fell in love with the series, and felt that SEVEN's emphasis on party management and fast-paced combat really took the Ys franchise leaps and bounds above its previous entires. Ys: Memories of Celceta follows up the same gameplay (somewhat of a spiritual successor to SEVEN), albeit placing itself after the third game in the series' timeline. The combat feels and looks very fluid as colorful skills and flash dodging/guarding mechanics dynamically make the game as much a twitch-response based marvel as it is a pure action-rpg. First-time players of the series can expect large-scale bossfights that will require patience to match patterns and timing, completely satisfying to overcome. The difficulties available to play the game on range from Easy to Nightmare mode. Although keep in mind, you can only decrease difficulty once you've started a game, not raise it.
Sound-wise, the game is truly a spectacle to behold. Falcom Sound Team jdk did an excellent job on the soundtrack of the game. As you travel through the forest and the various areas, you definitely feel that the right themes are being hit, whether it's as you start your adventure, or are trying time and time again to defeat Aldovoss on Nightmare. If you've played any of the prior Ys games, you'll know what to expect in terms of music. In terms of voices, a hefty chunk of the dialogue has been voiced over with English voice acting. The voices sound great, although I guess it's a pet peeve of mine to not have the option to listen to everyone speaking in Japanese. Some voices do come across as washed out sometimes though. (In particular while switching between characters in battle)
The graphics are a massive improvement over the spiritual predecessor Ys:SEVEN, and animated sequences flourish colorfully thanks to the Vita's OLED screen. When you enter a new area for the first time, the screen pans across and really get a chance to breathe in graphical capabilities of the handheld console. I'll admit the game looked a lot better in gameplay trailers, but the series at its core isn't so much about setting graphical records as it is genuinly fast-paced and very smooth gameplay, that of which it does a really great job of.
The story starts this time around following Adol Christin as he enters a town completely exhausted and stripped of all his memories through his previous endeavor into the forest of Celceta. I won't go too into details about why, but the basis of the story is that he travels back into the forest to map it and retrieve his lost memories. The story isn't overwhelming, but it's just enough to keep you coming back wanting to explore more and find new party-members. Along the way, you find little orbs of light that contain Adol's memories. These are usually hand-drawn/voiced scenes that illuminate his past and give you a peak into what exactly went down when he first traversed the forest. If you've played any of the previous Ys games, it's really easy to tie in these flashbacks to references made in previous entries of the series, which I thought was really cool.
The Silver Anniversary Edition of the game, if you're interested, comes with a massive amount of extra goodies. Along with the game itself, you get a snazzy compass, a 3-CD original soundtrack, map of the entire Forest of Celceta, and a kickass journal filled with detailed layouts of maps and strategies. Even if you aren't truly interested in any of the extras, for only $20 extra, it's completely worth it for what's included. If anything, I would have paid more out of sheer respect for XSEED and Nihon Falcom.
All in all, Ys: Memories of Celceta truly lived up to my expectations and definitely feels to have justified my Vita purchase.
on December 19, 2013
Y’s: Memories of Celceta is an action role-playing game that can also just be classified as a Japanese role playing game. It was released on the PlayStation Vita on September 27, 2012 in Japan and November 26, 2013 in North America. It was developed by Nihon Falcom Corporation, who is known for several popular series including Y’s in Japan. The Y’s series has a strange history of releases, including re-releases even by other developers. Memories of Celceta is the third game to be considered Y’s IV, but it is actually the first time it was developed by the original Y’s developer Nihon Falcom Corp.
I had wanted a PlayStation Vita really bad ever since it was first released almost two years ago. The only thing holding me back was that I was not sold on there being enough “good” games for me to get it. That all changed earlier this year when I saw the trailer for Memories of Celceta. I am not sure what it was about the trailer that was so appealing to me, but I knew I had to get a Vita before it was released. I quickly bought one and had patiently been awaiting the release of Memories of Celceta since this summer. But would I really enjoy a role playing game on a handheld device, especially one in a series that I had never even played before? I had no idea.
The basis of the story for Y’s is one most of us are familiar with: the protagonist has amnesia and is trying to find what the hell happened to him. You might be thinking something like, “here we go again!” But honestly it was pulled off phenomenally. You play as Adol Christin, a red haired young man with amnesia. The story starts out as you stumble into a city not knowing where you are or who you are. Eventually you meet a friend and are tasked with completing the map of the Great Forest of Celceta, a forest that no one has ever entered and returned from.
Like I said, the overall amnesia premise is very familiar as I have played many games that started the same way. Y’s: Memories of Celceta stood out. You meet some interesting characters along your journey as you explore the forest and discover memories from Adol’s past. Adol’s memories will keep you guessing on how he actually lost his memory and what part he had to play in the overall conflict that is going on in the world at the time. I was kept guessing throughout most of this 25 hour game, and most of the time I was completely wrong. That says something for someone who prides himself on being a story driven gamer that has played 100’s of games.
The graphics for Y’s: Memories of Celceta does not push the limit of the Vita by any means, but this does not mean that it suffered. For a role playing game on a handheld, it was exactly what I would expect it to be. The character models were a little blurry/pixilated when standing still or in cutscenes, but most of the time the action is going so fast that you will not even have time to notice it. In cutscenes I found myself reading the dialogue and paying attention to the animated avatar next to the text more than I was looking at the character models; so again, you won’t even notice. The menu was very polished and easy to use: both with or without using the touch screen.
The music was very catchy which is exactly what I have come to expect of a Japanese role playing game. It was fast paced which really suited the action packed gameplay mechanics. I don’t believe I have played a JRPG made in the past 8-10 years that didn’t have a good sound track.
Battles are extremely fast paced, with most of them taking no more than 2-3 seconds. They are all real time on the battlefield as it does not have to go to its own separate battle screen like other traditional Japanese role playing games. You have a normal attack button, a skill attack list you can use by holding the right trigger and hitting a face button, and a special move you can use by hitting the left trigger once you have built up enough experience for it. These quick battles made the game feel action packed from the get-go. I never felt bored running through dungeons or long maze-like paths because there were always new monsters around that I could kill really quickly. At the end of each dungeon you will will run into the a "boss battle" with a monster that is normally 10 times your size. These battles will typically take you many times longer than the normal battles do because they have much more health, but are still not very difficult as you can spam attacks and skill moves.
Y’s: Memories of Celceta has a party based battle system. You will have up to six characters in your party at one time, but can only put three of them in your active party to help you battle. The interesting part about this party system is that your other two active party members will run around the battle with you acting on their own. If you run by some enemies they may run right up to them and engage them in battle, or if you run by a harvest point they may run up and start to harvest it for you.
Speaking of harvest points, these along with treasure chests are spread all over the world for you to collect. Memories of Celceta has quite the deep loot and crafting system, so you will want to try and collect as much of everything as possible. Even if you decide to only sell it in the end, you can make a bunch for upgrades. Another addition to the game that will make you want to explore everything is the world map system. Since the story is based on you trying to complete the map of the Great Forest, you will want to go down each and every path. Every time you pull up the world map it will have an updated percentage of how much of the map you have discovered. This was one of those things I was checking on constantly because I was interested to see how much I discovered each time I went into a new area.
As with many JRPGs, Y's: Memories of Celceta has a new game plus mode. This mode will allow you to carry over all of your weapons, levels, stats, and discovery data to a brand new game. This is especially helpful for those who want to try to play on the hardest difficulty their second playthrough. I have always loved new game plus modes like this because they give me an extra incentive to go back and play them again later.
The Verdict: 9.0 out of 10
Everything about Y’s: Memories of Celceta made it an exceedingly fun game for the PlayStation Vita. It is not the typical really long Japanese role playing game, which came as a surprise to me. This, however, didn’t hold it back in the least. The fast paced battle system and the crazy story made it seem like it was a much longer game. At the beginning I was skeptical about the amnesia story, but by the time I finished the game I realized it was one of the better stories I have played in recent history. It has nothing that will affect you psychologically or emotionally like The Last of Us, but it is still a really damn good story. Anytime a game is as fun to play as this one, there will most likely be high replayability. This is one of those games that I will definitely be playing again in the future. I am glad this game came out on Vita instead of the PlayStation 3 because the Vita needs as many strong titles as it can get to sell more units. I just hope Y’s sells enough for them to continue making them and bringing them over to the west! Go buy this game; you won’t regret it.
on November 28, 2013
So I've been playing the Ys series since Ark of Napishtim for the PS2 and have loved the series since. Got all the games including the SNES Wanderers of Ys and all the special editions for the PS2 and the lone DS remake of Ys 1 & 2. So I know my games. I didn't know that this game was coming out until last year and I was super excited for this game, and was even more crazy that the Silver Anniversary Edition was coming out too. So on to the review:
Above average to me. It still looks like it's updated PSP graphics, but the background and environments are extremely beautiful. The character designs are good, but the 3D models aren't really "fluid" when you see them in cutscenes. Other than that, the graphics are really good, but not amazing, especially for a PSVita game.
It's Ys. The music is fantastic! The sound effects are great. The voice acting isn't bad either too! Don't say the game sucks because there isn't any JP voice option. But the sounds/music is amazing. Hell, I'm listening to the soundtrack cause it's that good!!
Great. The battle system is basically a rehash of Ys Seven's battle system. You have 3 characters in your party, each with a certain type of attack. For example, Adol uses a sword, so he's a slash type. Duren uses his fists, so he's a strike type. And so on and so forth. There is no jumping in the game, but you have a quick dodge in the game, and if you dodge at the right moment, you activate a flash dodge, which slows down time and helps you get a couple of quick attacks before time goes back to normal. The same goes for blocking too. Now, I'm playing this game on Nightmare mode...cause I'm stupid like that. It's crazy hard, and I died on the first boss like 15 times, but that's because I was working on how to beat him (he kills me in like 4 hits so don't blame me for not trying hard). The same goes for the enemies in the game. They will dominate you easy if you don't take care in attacking them carefully. Dodge and attack strategically and you'll be fine. Anyways, great battle system, just very hard on Nightmare (like really freaking hard).
Excellent, for now. I'm still about 3 hours into the game, but the story is pretty good right now. The "Memories" of Celceta highly involve Adol, but that's all I'm gonna say for that. The story is great so that's all.
All in all, this game is on level with Persona 4 Golden, but I'm glad that this system has another amazing JRPG in its arsenal. The Silver Anniversary Edition is a great collector's item too as it has a cloth map, compass, 3-CD soundtrack spanning all of the Ys games, and Adol's Journal (aka an artbook). For $20 more, this was worth the price. Get this game, be dumb like me and put the game on Nightmare, and have serious fun!!!
on November 30, 2013
This is the most fun game on Vita yet! I love action adventure games, RPG's, FPS's, you name it. This game seems to be the largest most involved, and most fun game out on Vita yet. Most of the others that I have and have played really seem to be lacking, as if the developer figured since it was for a handheld they didn't need to try or to make a full game. Ys: Memories of Celceta (don't ask me to type that again please) has intuitive controls, easy fluid game motion, and pretty nice visuals. They really didn't overdo the graphics like in Killzone Mercenaries, but they completely made up for it in really fun gameplay. The game map is huge, the battles are incredibly fun, and I find all my other hobbies just kind of waiting for me to get tired of this game. Good luck exercise! I got this game last week and I've been playing it pretty steadily for many hours each day. Don't judge me! Oh and I meant to mention the music in the game gets me pumped. Dueling guitars with J-pop beats are a classic awesome JRPG must and they didn't disappoint. For any PS Vita owner who is wondering when the actual fun games are gonna get here, here is one of the ones you're looking for.
Oh and the extras may not be a necessity to anyone other than a fan, but they are fun. The three CD music set is nice because the music from the Ys games is awesome. The hanging wall map is a welcome addition to anybody's nerd cave, and the compass is........well the cd's and the wall map are sweet.
Final thoughts, if you own a vita and you want a full experience out of it, either buy this version or the standard version of Ys: Memories of Celceta. I won't say this about many vita games as most of them are dumbed down, but this game is well made and really fun.
on November 29, 2013
This is the second rpg game i have bought for the vita (first was Persona 4), and i am hooked! This game is very fun to play, its mostly a hack and slash game, but enough to keep me entertained. If you never played a rpg game, i highly recommend this game and Person 4
on December 10, 2013
First off, I had never played a Y's before so didn't really know what I was getting into when I got this game. I knew it was an RPG but that was about it. I didn't know if it was turn based or strategic, nothing.
Fortunately for me, I soon realized that this is easily one of the top 3 games for Vita, in my opinion. Memories of Celceta is an action RPG. It is not turn based and you don't "jump" into a battle like Final Fantasy, Persona, Tales, etc. Once you encounter an enemy you can immediately start attacking without leaving the aforementioned "jump."
Without spoiling it, the story is very good. Nothing that will overly surprise you but still good nonetheless. The game has great pace. By that, I mean that it unveils the story and battle elements at intervals that keep the game fresh throughout. Once you start thinking okay, I think I got what there is to know to this game, you are shown new combos, new battle elements, etc. I never once found myself getting bored or thinking the action was getting repetitive. Voice acting was good in my opinion. There really isn't much voice acting in the game altogether so I don't really think it matters what the characters sound like.
Grinding, which is common in RPG's, was not something I had to do to get past enemies or bosses. However, I did do a fair bit of exploring the map while at the same time fighting most if not all of the monsters that I encountered.
All in all, this is a must buy game if you have a Vita. This game has now made me a fan of Y's and I cannot wait for future installments.
on December 3, 2013
The game play is similar to Ys 7 which i learned to love. In this game we learn more about Adol's past as well as the graphics being phenomenal. Entirely worth pre-ordering. And the Silver Anniversary Edition was great because I really loved the music from the Ys series, and I have not been disappointed yet by any of their games. Definitely a 5 star game.
on December 3, 2013
Ys Celceta... a game that is incredibly annoying to pronounce and even more complicated to explain...Where to begin... NO i haven't finished the game in fact not even close. I am basing this review on the first few hours of gameplay, My experience with Ys Seven and various other Ys games and the Contents of the Collectors Edition.
Story Unkown/10 - I can't comment on it because it hasn't unfolded yet. It starts out similar to others though, you play as Adel Christian a Firey Red haired mostly silent protagonist who has amnesia (Stop me if you have heard this before :p). As you play through the game you learn more about who you are and why you are here etc... through unlocked memories that you find as you progress. As of this review I have only unlocked 5 of he memories but they tell a continuous story and I do wish to learn more as you never leaned anything about Adel in the other Ys games I played.
Graphics 9/10 - It's the Vita so I can't expect top of the line stuff, but it does look great on the system. No frame rate issues or lag that I have seen and that's always a big plus for me. Everything flows beautifully and it isn't distracting.
Combat 9/10 - The meat and potatoes of the Ys games has always been the combat. And it's back in spades. If you have played Ys seven you will know exactly what to expect. Instead of the old Ys games where you control only 1 character you now have a party of 3 (chosen from a pool of 7 I believe) Each character has a different weapon type, Crushing, Slashing or Piercing. Enemies can have a weakness to certain types or are neutral. A Neutral enemy is damaged equally by all attack types while an enemy weak to slash will take double damage from slash, but half damage form everything else. Beating an enemy with the proper weapon type grants added bonuses as does beating an enemy with a skill attack. You can have up to 4 skills equipped per character and can use them as long as you have SP, which you gain by attacking enemies. Each Skill takes up X amount of your SP which has a max of 100. This balance of attack styles and skill usage is a blast to play and the frantic nature of the game makes it feel chaotic... but still controlled. If that makes sense. I haven't gotten very far yet, but it it's like Ys seven then Adol will be allowed to equip various different types of swords that changes his attack type from Slash to Crush or Pierce. This allows you to have a party formation with the characters you want while still having the three attack types. I could be completely mistaken about this though so don't quote me on it it's just how Ys seven worked.
Other Gameplay 8/10 - While killing things in the wild you gain materials which you can use to upgrade equipment, making your attacks not only stronger but can also inflict status ailments such as stun, poison, life drain etc... This is all well and good but sometimes you think you have a lot of materials and in reality you barley have enough for anything. Not only that it's expensive so prepare to grind a bit. Not a lot, but a bit. There are also a ton of side quests to do so I recommend doing some of those for a quick bit of coin, as well as the bonus of getting materials while on the quest.
Music 10/10 - Here we go... One of the things that I wasn't expecting when I got Ys Seven 2 years ago was it's music... I'm normally the type that turns the games music on off and add my own soundtrack. Not with Ys games. In fact It's the opposite. I love the music in these games so much It's the soundtrack I add to OTHER games. Ys Celceta continues this wonderful music tradition in spades. You have these heart pounding, metal and rock songs during combat mixed in with soothing classical songs during town visits or important story points and it all fits in so perfectly with the game. It's odd just saying that the music adds to the game this much but it really does. In fact it's the sole reason I bought the collector's edition. (more on that below).
Sound 8/10 - It's there, it works. The voice acting is... sub par but not so bad that it ruins the game. I have nothing fantastic to say about it nor anything bad to say about it.
Overall - I give the game a 9/10 or so, one of my favorite Vita games and in fact one of my favorite games this year on anything. I love everything about it, a few flaws of course here and there but all in all definately worth any RPG fans time. If you aren't sure if you will like it, I suggest getting Ys Seven on the PSN. It's cheap and this game plays a lot like it. Plus Ys seven has some of my favorite songs... ever created. Look up "Desert of Despair" on youtube or something. Try not falling in love with that song.
Silver Anniversary Collector's Edition Review.
Since this is the CE, I will now review the items that the game comes with.
Compass - It's a compass. It points north. It works I guess so... yay? I'm not sure why this was needed but I can't really say it's bad because it works. I've never needed to know which way is north though.
Art Book 9/10 - I don't really care for art books. I'm not an artist, I don't look at concept art I just play the games. However this is more than an Artbook. It's a very detailed manual and explanation of everything in the world. It shows the items, the characters, mining locations etc... it's like a little strategy guide and I love it. It also is "Written" by Adol which I find interesting as it's supposed to be his journal. It shows all the concept art in the game on the various pages as it's explaining what they are, or areas he visited etc... It's the best way IMO to do an artbook. Let me see the art while i read about it. Bravo! Also the material it's made out of feels nice... random i know but I wanted to note it.
Cloth Map - It's a map made of cloth, feels very nice and looks pretty on my desk. Not sure what else to do with it though.
Sound Track - ...I saved this for last. It's a 3 Disc collection (64 Tracks) of some of the best Music from every Ys game. Remastered and original songs are both present on this masterpiece. This collection of music is the reason I bought the CE edition over the Regular edition of the game. I have been listening to it nearly non-stop since I got it and can't get enough of it. If you have any... even a feint barely existent liking of Ys music, GET THIS SOUNDTRACK. I'm going to be listening to this music for a long, long time as well as the Ys Seven Soundtrack which I also have. I think of the 64 tracks I may have only not liked 3 of them. The others are just perfect for so many situations and have already become my soundtracks for other games whose music I did not like. I like to joke and say I bought this for the Soundtrack and the game was just a bonus... It's half of a joke really because it's very close to being true. There isn't a way to buy the soundtrack by itself, it's a good thing I like the game too! but even if the game was bad (Thankfully not the case) I would have been happy with the soundtrack.
on December 12, 2013
The PS Vita is a fantastic system with terrible support. Even fans of the console won't deny that fact. And yet, when exclusive games are released for it, they tend to excel in their respective genres, and slowly but surely bolster the clout of the underrated handheld. Thus, it seems fitting that the Ys series undertakes one of its most drastic transformations yet on this system, transitioning away from the 2D sprites we've grown accustomed to in even the most recent entries. Breaking bold new ground in this ground-up reimagining of an older Ys title, "Memories of Celceta" is not only an excellent action RPG in its own right, but another line on a growing list of reasons to own Sony's latest handheld.
The fourth version of "Ys IV," "Celceta" puts players in the boots of Adol Christian, an amnesiac adventurer who has emerged from a mysterious forest that nobody has ever returned from. Yet as soon as he arrives into what players are led to believe is his hometown, the unpopular government of the region tasks him with travelling back into the sprawling territory with the express purpose of creating a map for the people of the nation. With a massive fortune promised to him and his travelling companion, Adol sets off on a dangerous trek to chart the uncharted, as well as uncover the mystery behind who he really is.
Amnesiac protagonists are nothing new to JRPGs, yet for some reason, my jaded cynicism has been kept remarkably under wraps with this game. The method utilized to recall Adol's memories (more on that in a second) is rather ingenious, and prevents the narrative from turning into the same tedious hokum we've been dealing with since the SNES era. And while the narrative itself is not entirely original, it's the type of archetypal video game comfort food I can get behind, with an excellent translation propelling likable characters into more than the sum of their part. Insofar, this is a cast that I want to see succeed in their ultimate goal, and I can't help but cheer for them every step of the way.
And with odds like these, they're going to need somebody cheering them on. Within less than twenty or so minutes, players are plunged straight into battle, throwing long-winded exposition to the wind in flavor of raw challenge and tight gameplay. Not too far into the game, characters will be getting paralyzed, poisoned and other things at a fairly frequent pace, as "Celceta" doesn't do any real hand-holding to speak of. As you hack and slash through the wilderness, you'll find yourself scrambling for campsites and checkpoint stones, as large foes you're unable to fight early on will kill Adol and company in one hit. Every step you take is risk, and for every wave of weak enemies, a solitary behemoth is lurking around the corner or underwater, waiting to take you out. It's this sense of exploration and dread that has kept me on my toes throughout my playthrough, and it's one that very few games can capture without resorting to the ludicrous difficulty found in something like "Dark Souls." Falcom has done a commendable job of balancing out the difficulty nicely, while still maintaining a nice ratio of risk and reward.
There are some interesting quirks to "Celceta" that make it much more than difficult hack-and-slash, though. The first of these is the phenomenal character-switching system, which is perhaps the most streamlined and fluid I've experienced in any action RPG. Different enemies have different weaknesses, and it's up to players to discover this so they can switch between party members on the fly and wail away on them. It turns enemy encounters into hectic, fun brawls, filled with rapid switching, intricate combos, and numerous strings of special moves. Secondly, the system through which Adol recovers memories is fun and rewarding. By exploring different parts of the expansive map, players will uncover memories that contain snippets of backstory, then reward them with stat boosts. This gives an incentive to discover the memories, because here, knowledge is literally power.
Some Vita features in the game are utilized, and much to my delight, they're entirely unobtrusive and actually add to the game. Touch screen interface options are seamless and responsive, making menu navigation a speedy and painless process. Swiping the back touch pad allows you to switch AI partners from "Offense" to "Defense," and tapping enemies on the front screen shows you information on them. It's nice to see the Vita's touch features used for the sake of convenience, and not shoehorned in for the sake of having them present.
The same could really be said for the graphics. While many games attempt to wow players with "console-quality" visuals on the system, "Celceta" doesn't engage in that trend. The result is a game that is beautiful in terms of the level design, the imagination put into the worlds, and the gift of allowing players to see where they're going to end up miles down the road, as opposed to attempting raw graphical horsepower like "Killzone: Mercenary" or "Uncharted: Golden Abyss." Much like this year's "Tales of Xillia," "Celceta" proves that a game doesn't have to run at 60 FPS or look photo-realistic in order to be awe-inspiring.
"Awe-inspiring" is also a phrase that could be used to describe the wonderful soundtrack, which is, in a word, breathtaking. Beautiful synthesizers and strings work in perfect harmony to create a score that is energetic, mysterious, and about a million other positive superlatives. It really hit me when I was overlooking an oceanic town, or exploring a mysterious bog, that the music sucks me in like no soundtrack has this year thus far, breaking down the boundaries between myself and Adol. A composer's work to pulling me into a world so thoroughly has not happened for a very long time, and it's an experience that I relish with every chord of this amazing piece of music.
Every battle lost and every dead end reached does not make me want to put down "Ys: Memories of Celceta." Rather, it motivates me to pick myself up and push onward, wanting to see everything this amazing game has to offer. While this year has been packed with amazing RPGs, most have not pulled me into their worlds so forcefully, demanding my full attention as a player. As I have not finished it, I cannot truly say whether or it is deserving of a perfect score. But from what I've seen thus far, it's darn close to pure gaming nirvana, and one of the defining reasons to own a PS Vita.