As the pool of Vita exclusive titles continues to shrink with new ports releasing on other platforms, the PlayStation 4 is now home to yet another of Adol Christin’s adventures with Ys: Memories of Celceta. Initially hitting the Vita in the west in November of 2013, Ys: Memories of Celceta is set one year after Ys II, and a year before Oath of Felghana, and serves as Falcom’s official fourth canonical entry of the franchise. In the old days, there were two different versions of Ys: IV, Ys IV: Mask of the Sun on the Super Famicom, and Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys on the PC Engine. Memories of Celceta take bits and pieces from both and creates a unique amalgamation of the two in what Falcom now calls the canonical fourth entry of the series.
Adol Christin has lost his memories with the gaming opening with our hero stumbling back into the town of Casnan. A city on the borders of the ancient forest, Casnan is under the command of Governor-General Griselda. You run into a muscular man in the local tavern, Duren, who seems to have had previous dealing with Adol. Their reunion is cut short when an emergency brings the two into the local mine, where a daring rescue attempt ensues. Their reward, a new mission from the Governor-General, to chart the mysterious forest, and to discover the cause of Adol’s amnesia.
I’ve always been a big of action RPGs, and I know that whenever I play a Ys game, I’m in for one the fastest and most fun examples of the genre out there, and Memories of Celceta is no different. Combat is fast-paced, where you will have to dodge out of the way and block incoming attacks quickly. I loved testing myself and coming up with strategies to take down the rarer higher level monsters in the areas. You will be swapping control between Adol and his friends, each coming with their unique weapons, skills, and attack property. Each attack property, Adol’s swords do slashing damage, for instance, does more or less damage depending on the type of enemy you are facing off against.
With a simple button press, you will take control of one of your other three active party members, while the computer will control the other two characters. It’s quick and doesn’t break you out of the action in the slightest. The key to succeeding in encounters, especially during the massive boss fights, is smart swapping of characters and taking advantage of enemy weaknesses. I enjoy the strategy that the swapping allows during combat, but the challenge-chaser in me does wish I could have only a single character out at a time, instead of always the full party.
When you venture into the forest, you will want to make sure you are properly outfitted. Exchanging crafting resources and improving your gear is an integral part of surviving the wilds. Chopping down plants, chipping away at rock outcroppings, and slaying beasts will net you a lot, and I mean A LOT, of resources. You will be able to trade up your loot in town, netting you higher quality items. For every 10 of a lower level item you trade, you can get one of the next tiers. Doing this will let you get rarer and more precious metals and gems that you can use to craft new weapons, armor, and accessories, or improve your existing gear with improved stats, or even special effects like burning or poison added to your hits.
The mass quantities of resource drops are more akin to a game like Diablo, but since most of your gear will come from upgrading and crafting, which is more of a JRPG schtick, it’s a rather exciting blend. I can see some being turned off by the grind, but as a fan of grinding in games, finding it to be quite zen, I enjoyed this aspect. What is nice, though, is that on your map, every resource point like rocks and plants are marked along with what resources they will drop. This helps tremendously when you are looking for specific materials.
Visually, Ys: Memories of Celecta looks precisely like you would expect from a PS4 port of a Vita title. Models and environments that looked good on Vita’s small screen look somewhat blocky and simple when blown up on an HD TV. I don’t mean that as a detractor for those looking to buy it, more so just something that you should be aware of when you pick up the game. The vivid scenery and colors, paired with excellent art direction, still look good, especially when in motion.
During my time with this port, playing on a PlayStation 4 Pro, the gameplay was a buttery-smooth 60fps, vastly superior to Vita’s 30fps limit. This rock-solid frame rate made that the fast-paced nature of the combat feel even better and made the overall experience even more fun to play.
Music has always been a strong suit with the Ys series, and Memories of Celceta continues the tradition. Battle tracks are just as intense as you may remember from the Vita version, and the exploration music like “Ancient Land” has found a place on my frequently listened to RPG playlists. Some of the tracks are remixes of titles found in Mask of the Sun and The Dawn of Ys, but unfortunately, fans of the original titles won’t have the option to change the music to the original compositions.
Returning to the forest of Celceta with this new port reminded me of just how great Ys series of action RPGs are. With the upcoming Ys IX: Monstrum Nox recently getting a localization announcement, there is now no better times for those who may have missed out on Memories of Celceta on Vita or PC to check it now. While it may not have the same refinements of the last main title in the series, Ys: Memories of Celceta is a grand entry in a legendary series that deserves any action RPG fan’s attention.
This game was reviewed on a PlayStation 4 Pro system with a physical copy provided by the PR firm.