Third Time’s a Charm
Everyone has those games in their library that, no matter how many times they play them, they never get old. For me, the Ys series (pronounced like “Geese” minus the G) as a whole fills that slot. I’ve played each entry in its entirety at least a couple times, and Ys: Memories of Celceta is no exception. This will be my second time reviewing the game (previously I reviewed the PC version), and I’ve also platinumed the game on my Vita. I’ve seen pretty much everything Memories of Celceta has to offer, so does that mean I didn’t enjoy my third time with the game? No, quite the contrary. Ys: Memories of Celceta is still as good as I remember it being the first time I played it, which should be a great sign for seasoned Ys veterans and newcomers alike.
The Ys series follows mainstay protagonist and ludicrously red-headed swordsman Adol Christin through his numerous adventures that find him in a mix of making new friends, friend-zoning lots of women, getting into lots of unintentional trouble, and defeating godly monsters to save the world. Just an average guy, really. Ys: Memories of Celceta finds Adol in trouble right from the very beginning of the game. Battered and completely devoid of memories, Adol stumbles around, not knowing where he is, what he was doing, or even who he is. Thankfully after passing out, a kind (but money-hungry) soul named Duren helps Adol get his bearings and brings him to the local inn to rest up.
“Look Adol, everything the light touches is our Kingdom.”
Ys: Memories of Celceta has a giant world to explore with plenty to see and do.
After a brief introduction and Duren helping you get back on track to the task at hand, you remember that you were exploring the great Forest of Celceta before things went awry. Que the local village miners getting into trouble with monsters, Adol remembers how to fight and, after saving them, gains the approval of the local Governer General of the recently moved-in Romun Empire to help map out the entirety of the Great Forest of Celceta. Duren gets to make money, and Adol gets to explore as well as try to get his memories back; definitely a win-win for the duo.
After leaving town and reaching the Forest of Celceta is when the game truly begins. Though Ys VIII was a tad bigger in comparison, Ys: Memories of Celceta has an extensive map to explore considering the time the game originally came from. The forest itself is vast, but there are heaps of dungeons to explore, towns to find, and people to meet – all with things to find and do in between. There are multiple paths that are initially blocked off, but finding a special item will enable you to get through eventually. This Metroid style exploration scheme works wonders for enhancing the feel of exploration and really satiates the “I’ve gotta find everything in this game” type nerds like myself.
You are already dead
As is usual with Ys games, combat is frantic, fast, and above all – fun. Combos and special moves aplenty here!
Playing as the same two characters for the whole game would admittedly get a little boring, but thankfully four characters join your party and aid you in exploring and battle – each for their own reasons. Much like Ys Seven (and VIII if you’ve played that as well), Ys: Memories of Celceta utilizes the party system that Falcom has become fond of recently. Up to three characters are on screen at once, and you can switch between them at the press of a button. Each character also has an attack type that favors either soft enemies, hard enemies, or flying enemies. Identifying which enemy you’re fighting and using the right character to fight them is imperative to both being successful in battle as well as getting bonus drops from defeated enemies. Though it sounds tricky, it’s a rather ingenious fighting system, and you get the hang of it rather quickly. Other techniques like aerial juggling enemies and dodging enemy attacks at the last second also yield bonuses of their own, so there are plenty of methods to master in Ys: Memories of Celceta. In typical Ys fashion, the combat is frantic and fun.
One of the main selling points of the PS4 version is the game being in HD. While the Vita was *technically* a high definition system, porting the game as is wouldn’t look very clean on the big screen. Thankfully the game runs in super crisp full HD here, along with a very stable 60 FPS and bright, vibrant textures and colors. Comparing my time with the PC version, I noticed a lot more aliasing in the PS4 version, which is odd because Memories of Celceta isn’t exactly a graphically demanding game. The character and NPC models have also been left as-is and haven’t exactly aged too well. The environments still look great even today. You can really feel the emphasis on exploring a vast and varied wilderness while adventuring through the Forest of Celceta.
Ys Memories of Celceta is host to a wide range of characters – now with Japanese dialogue options (when voiced)!
Another selling point is the option to choose between English and Japanese voices. Though Memories of Celceta doesn’t have a ton of voiced dialogue, it’s cool being able to hear how the characters were originally voiced. Of course, it goes without saying that the game has a stellar soundtrack and is easily one of the best points of the game, aside from how fun it is. Ys: Memories of Celceta is for all intents and purposes Falcom’s own take on the PC Engine original – which was developed by Hudson Soft. An SNES version entitled Mask of the Sun was also made by Tonkin House, but to my knowledge is the least canon of the three. Dawn of Ys had some of the best music among the classic Ys games – mostly due to Ryo Yonemitsu’s amazingly catchy compositions. Memories of Celceta takes many of those songs and reworks them with that modern Falcom JDK Band flair, and they sound just as good today as they did when I first played the game back in 2012.
Like any other Ys game, Memories of Celceta is a blast to play. The combat system is really fleshed out, yet simple and fun. The controls are tight and responsive, and nothing really feels clunky. There is a metric ton of things to find both in treasure chests as well as natural resources. The items you harvest from the overworld as well as downed enemies can be used to make new items, weapons, and armor. The crafting system is basic, but it’s fun all on its own and will have you farming materials to both make and upgrade weapons pretty consistently. Among your time exploring the many locales surrounding the Great Forest, you’ll meet a ton of unique characters – both integral to the story as well as named NPC’s. Each feels like their own person, and many offer you quests to do. All in all, Ys: Memories of Celceta is a solid, polished game.
A title worth remembering
Though you might not find anything new here if you’ve played through Ys: Memories of Celceta before, Ys is just one of those series that is consistently fun to go back to no matter how many times you play it. Falcom is magic in the way that they can pull off something like that while being a smaller studio, and XSEED has consistently taken good care of the entries they’ve handled. If you can look past some aging graphics, you’ll have a great time mapping out the Great Forest of Celceta – even if it’s your third time doing so. I’d heartily recommend checking this one out, especially if you missed out on it originally due to not having a Vita or being a PC gamer. There’s a lot to find in the Great Forest of Celceta, and it’s fun finding it each and every time.
Final Score: 4.5/5
Available on: PS4 (Reviewed), PC, PlayStation Vita; Publisher: XSEED Games ; Developer: Nihon Falcom ; Players: 1 ; Released: June 9th, 2020 (PS4), July 25th, 2018 (PC), September 27th, 2012 (PlayStation Vita) ; ESRB: T for Teen ; MSRP: $39.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of Ys: Memories of Celceta given to Hey Poor Player by the Publisher