Ys: The Oath in Felghana

Ys: The Oath in Felghana

released on Jul 04, 2005

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Ys: The Oath in Felghana

released on Jul 04, 2005

A complete 3D reimagining of the 16-bit console classic "Ys III: Wanderers From Ys," Ys: The Oath in Felghana is a fast-paced action role-playing game with tight controls, Metroidvania-style exploration elements, intense combat with epic screen-filling boss battles, and a thrashing, percussive arranged soundtrack that's been heralded by many as one of the best of all time. Based on the original 2005 PC release, this classic is finally officially available in English with added Steamworks features such as achievements and cloud saving.

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The best Ys from the "isometric era" (I just made up that). Simple but pretty graphics, tight controls, fun and fast paced gameplay and gorgeous OST. The pacing is on point, and the story gets its job done.
Difficulty is high, but never unfair and the world design feels very organic.
One of my favorite games of all time.

one of the most tight controlling and well designed games ive ever played that further elevated my enjoyment by wearing pretty much every single jrpg trope on its sleeve. this game fucking rules and adol is one of the few silent protags i stan

Remake de la tercera entrega de la saga que cuenta con mucha QoL. El juego es super divertido, la historia cumple y la banda sonora es muy muy buena, como Falcom nos tiene acostumbrados.

2nd chester fight almost made me break my psp. good game

such whiplash jumping from viii to this one... I guess I brought it on myself. there's just so many issues tied to this weird hybrid 2D-3D isometric engine holding me back from enjoying this one more.

hitboxes are hard to parse because the sense of depth is compromised by the perspective and the flat characters. it doesn't help that during boss battles there's usually a lot of hitboxes on screen at once. this is exacerbated by the fact that generally adol's only way to get out of harm's way is to jump, and an aerial adol's location in space can hardly be determined without some practice. combat in general is light on options given adol's limited kit in this game. attacks are limited to the usual mash-x combo and with the added wrinkle of a couple different aerial attacks. fighting the regular mobs is so tedious and dull by the end of the game... once you get the double jump you can at least stun enemies by doing double jump->downward plunge? but late-game enemies don't respond to these as often so it doesn't feel like it significantly changes the gameplay loop.

and those boss battles... they truly love throwing crazy bullet patterns and such at you in this game. I'd love to see a 3D action game take on that level of challenge and variety of projectiles, but in this hybrid engine it feels claustrophobic and arbitrary. in the first half of the game I found the bosses truly overwhelming, and much of this has to do with streamlined mechanics from typical action rpgs that really should've made an appearance here. there's no way to heal in a fight outside of popping a full boost gauge, but the second level that includes healing doesn't unlock until the midgame unfortunately considering how useful it is. there's also no way to upgrade equipment until you unlock the ability to teleport after the second major dungeon, which is still relatively early on but feels awkwardly late given how useful upgrading equipment is.

the bosses aren't only overwhelming because of the hitboxes of course, as there's a sort of maximalist old-school design pattern going on here. each boss has a ream of moves that must be dealt with, with virtually all fights having multiple phases and occasional overlapping attacks that really stress proper positioning. what's unfortunate about this is that adol's limited toolkit results in very few options available to approach each encounter. it's a necessity to experiment and find which strategy works with each attack, which is a common design pattern for any boss fight but feels extremely restrictive here with so few different approaches to each fight. in some cases the proper solution to a given attack can be relatively obscure or unintuitive, such as the swoop attack gildias uses in the third phase in his fight. he remains aerial the whole time, but he will only pick you up if you don't jump, which does not make much physical sense and was a strategy not apparent to friends who had previously played the game when I talked to them. this one attack could potentially kill the player in a single shot depending on luck (he throws you down a chasm with ledges that will severely damage you if they are not narrowly avoided or blocked using the charge magic) which feels cruel on the side of the developers. likewise multiple other projectiles towards the end of the game (such as in the clockwork robot fight or either of the final two bosses) will knock you down and chain into other projectiles, causing massive damage to the player. it seems like in a lot of ways the developers put in a wide variety of creative ideas without caring much about how viable it was to play against them. compared to the much gentler difficulty curve of the modern ys games, it's a little shocking to spend 10+ attempts on a boss that can consistently kill you in only four hits. the final boss is especially excruciating, as for most of the fight you cannot attack the boss directly and instead must just survive until your next opportunity to attack arises. it's a shame too, as much of the end of the game (barring the clock tower boss which was far too fast for adol and mostly consisted of me running in a circle waiting for my boost to recharge) has some very solid bosses that feel more flexible regarding feasible approaches. it's not that the ideas here aren't good, but the way bosses control the pace of the fight really removes much of the fun of trying to optimize damage or fight aggressively.

what's most damning really is that this frustration is surrounded by little else. the plot is certainly fine but is pretty thin with shallow side characters and a relatively predictable structure. dungeons generally consist of long straight lines with small detours for field items or extra goodies, and so exploring each one feels more like a chore of wading through enemies rather than any sort of puzzle layout or organic area. regular enemies generally require little thought except for some focus on character placement, which would be fine if the combat had a bit more spice. the magic as well rarely gets used outside of clearly telegraphed lock-and-key puzzles that don't particularly evolve over the course of the game. this is a game entirely built around engaging boss encounters, and I really don't think the combat mechanics are robust enough to make an imprint on me that this is a must-play or even particularly engaging at all.

it's a shame really, since all of the requisite falcom bits are present: energetic music, lovely sprite art, and the feeling of a well-crafted and succinct B-tier jrpg snug within your psp (or pc, which seems to unfortunately not play nice with modern hardware). it just suffers from a lack of ambition in its fluff and structure while potentially possessing too much ambition in its boss design. for every boss I felt satisfied to beat there was a counterpoint that felt tedious or stiff or poorly considered. or perhaps I'm just more cut out for modern ys rather than these older titles.