Title: Ys: Memories of Celceta
Release Date: June 9, 2020
Reviewed On: PS4
Publisher: XSEED Games
Genre: Action RPG
Every series has that one outlier that fans will say doesn’t really fit in. When mentioned in a discussion, you’ll hear a lot of “It was alright,” before the subject is changed.
I feel that’s the case for Ys: Memories of Celceta. Originally released on the PS Vita before heading to PC, the title has reemerged for the PlayStation 4 for fans to go on another hack-and-slash adventure. While I don’t think it’s a reason to replay the game for those who have already played the PC port, I personally feel like it’s a strong adventure game and one that should be experienced.
Ys: Memories of Celceta stars our silent adventurer Adol Christin who stumbles into a town without a memory of who he is or how he got there. He ends up meeting up with his old pal Duren, who suggests that they take on a mission to help the town and possibly get some gold out of it. This ends up awakening a portion of Adol’s memories, which is the basis for the entire adventure.
The two adventurers are then tasked with mapping the surrounding areas and uncovering its mysteries. Revealing the map is one of my favorite parts about Memories of Celceta as it satisfied my craving for adventure. Every new section explored is then shown on your map that slowly grows throughout the game.
The story then follows Adol to different towns where supposedly he’s been before, but again, he can’t remember. After his previous visit, bad things happened, and so when he returns, he isn’t met with kindness. However, things are cleared up, and it’s discovered that there are some dark powers at play here that are pulling the strings.
This happens a few too many times during the game, and it just makes the story predictable after awhile. There’s no real suspense until the later parts, but honestly, completing the map held my interest far more than the story or characters did. I would also attribute this to Adol’s responses during dialogue, which don’t really affect the story after a general reply.
Memories of Celceta has some great qualities about its pure sense of adventure. You assume the role of a toned-down Adol who must relearn most of his abilities. Furthermore, the story uses this memory loss as a way to introduce new characters to the party who each have their own unique abilities and skills. It flows nicely as you uncover more of the map and reclaim Adol’s memories.
To make adventuring in dungeons more engaging, players can equip artifacts that give the party special powers. The artifacts grant the team abilities such as shrinking in size, breathing underwater, or running faster. They each help limit any repetitive nature that a hack-and-slash game may present, and it forces you to explore everything.
The battle system requires players to switch between party members depending on the enemy you are fighting. Some enemies are weak to Adol’s sword, while others are weak to Duren’s fists and so on. This keeps you constantly switching between party members during almost every encounter.
One issue that pops up is the AI members of your party aren’t that smart most of the time. They do what they can, but a lot rides on how quickly you switch between characters who have an advantage over an enemy. I will also point out that sometimes the party members became stuck in this strange glitch where they’d run around in circles randomly. It didn’t really affect my gameplay experience, but it did happen often.
Bosses are also encountered during the adventure, but they don’t really have the same complexities about them that other Ys titles include. They are just so unremarkable and unmemorable. Many are only damage sponges with a few basic attack patterns. Even the final boss doesn’t really hold any weight.
Aside from the main story, players can take on sub-missions that involve defeating an enemy, collecting items, or just helping out a townsperson. Some of the side-missions provided some nice dialogue scenes, but many of them felt like padding on the game’s runtime unless you just use them for extra money or materials.
While exploring, players can collect materials around the map as well as from fallen enemies. These can then be used to strengthen and refine your equipment, which makes weapons last a lot longer in the game. Equipment can also have elemental properties that can do things like heal the wearer over time or poison enemies.
The PS4 version is the best console version of Memories of Celceta available. However, it isn’t as good as the PC port. It lacks a layer of polish that the PC version has with the added options to increase the graphics and customize the experience. Still, it’s fun to play the game using Japanese audio, and the framerate felt consistent during each encounter.
I believe the Vita development of Memories of Celceta holds back this updated version of the game no matter which port you play. The static camera feels incredibly dated as the right analog stick only zooms in and out. Regardless, the controller input was responsive and executing Flash Dodges and Guards was always a good time.
Ys: Memories of Celceta is a game where it’s more about the journey than the destination. Every portion of the map presents a new discovery, and that becomes wildly satisfying across the 20-hour runtime. The story elements and flimsy side-missions don’t always help with the overall engagement, but that doesn’t really matter when the battle system is just so much fun. Still, if you’re looking to play the best version available, I’d point you to the PC release, but either way, this is one adventure that I encourage you to go on.
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