Well, it’s that time again—a top list from a group of nerds that might not aline with your personal list. Luckily, we’re all just having fun and playing games anyway. So here it is, our top five Ys games. The Ys series is vast with many titles available, but luckily, most, if not all, are available on PC and consoles now. So, each of these games is within reach no matter its age. The best thing about this series is that you can start from anywhere as they are each standalone titles. Sure there is an overarching story, but they can be enjoyed no matter the order you play them.
Be sure to let us know your favorite Ys entry in the series.
5. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
Ys VIII really propelled the series’ popularity in the west and is considered by many to be the apex of the franchise as a whole. While it is not nearly as magnificent in my eyes, I still think it one of the best JRPGs of our generation. It focuses on Adol and other castaways trying to survive and hopefully escape the treacherous Isle of Seiren.
In the process, however, they end up facing some rather significant historical peril. This title features the 3rd implementation of the party combat system, which utilizes several playable characters rather than just Adol.
Combat in this title is not only cyclically addicting and satisfying to throw yourself into, but it is also quite beginner-friendly due to the simplicity of the mechanics, and the depth players can employ. The soundtrack is easily one of the series’ best, with its vast array of masterful ambiance and intensity accompanying it. The narrative is more self-contained than the norm for the series, too, making it a fantastic entry for both veterans and newcomers.
4. Ys: The Oath in Felghana
Ys: The Oath in Felghana is a cult classic that shines with brilliant boss design and a heartfelt narrative. After Adol’s adventure in Celceta, the red-haired adventurer and his right-hand man Dogi find themselves in the latter’s hometown, Redmont.
Unfortunately, though, monsters are roaming the land, and one of Dogi’s childhood friends, Chester, is up to questionable deeds. Oath in Felghana utilizes the Napishtim engine for combat, which consists of Adol being on his lonesome battling challenging foes with limited tools. Combat in this title, especially on the more significant difficulties, requires patience and mastery of the mechanics.
The bosses require intensive reading of telegraphs and patterns to best, making each encounter feel threatening and a true test for the adept. Oath in Felghana is a vital component of the Ys series that any action JRPG fan seeking a challenge should try.
3. Ys Seven
Ys Seven may not have aged the best graphically, but it is one of the more thrilling titles of the franchise. It tells an engaging and heart-throbbing narrative fraught with a cataclysmic peril and ancient legends. Adol and Dogi find themselves in the land of Altago, where they end up on an adventure to uncover the secrets of the land, such as the mysterious 5 great dragons.
The soundtrack is my personal favorite of the franchise, with it having an impressively varied lineup from exceptional battle and field tracks, to soothing and tranquil town themes. Despite being the first implementation of the party combat system, the combat has just the right amount of weight to make each swing of the sword and fist feel impactful and satisfying.
It is also arguably the most difficult of the party combat titles due to its lengthy boss fights and not nearly as spammable skill usage. 7 may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but personally speaking, it excels at feeling like a thrilling adventure first and foremost.
2. Ys IX: Monstrum Nox
Ys IX is the latest title in the franchise and has just recently hit the western market. With this title being the latest in the series’ timeline, Adol is now a seasoned adventurer at the age of 24. He and Dogi find themselves in the Prison City of Balduq, which has dark secrets abound, such as the Grimwald Nox, the existences of the Monstrums, and more.
This game’s story is more of a personal one for Adol and references past titles more than ever before. Still, it does tell a self-contained narrative that is arguably the apex of the series as a whole. The design of Balduq is unprecedented for what the series has done thus far, boasting stellar verticality and dungeons that are not solely straight hallways.
The combat is a more refined version of VIII’s combat. While it does lack the weight of VII’s swings, the speed and maneuverability present within the combative scenarios is jaw-dropping. This title also has the best exploration of the series bar none, feeling like more of a thrilling setting of supremely satisfying areas to reach than 8 in an ironic twist. Ys IX is a title that appeals more to fans than newcomers, but any action JRPG fan can enjoy the majesty this title has to offer.
1. Ys Origin
This may seem like an odd choice, but Ys Origin is easily my personal favorite title of the franchise. It acts as a prequel to the series, taking place hundreds of years before Ys 1. Players choose between 3 protagonists who all have their own separate stories within the fabled Devil’s Tower.
While exploring an identical setting as multiple characters sound burdensome and unfun, it is, in fact, the complete opposite. The design of Ys Origin is masterful, from its seamless, organic puzzles, to its superb boss battles.
This title is the last to have utilized the Napishtim engine and is the apex of it. The characterization and story-telling are the most personal the series have to offer, making the treks up the tower worthwhile each time. The soundtrack is also one of the best in the franchise. While not housing a considerable degree of tracks, each song is addicting to listen to, over and over.
Speaking of addicting, Ys Origin never gets old. As stated earlier, the area design is organic and rarely ever feels burdensome or taxing. It’s a game I can pick up and have fun playing any time. While I can’t say Origin is the best entry from a critical lens, it’s definitely my favorite on a personal level. It excels at everything the Ys series has to offer from a mechanical and story-telling standpoint, and I always find myself smiling whenever picking it back up.
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