Three Things About Ys: Memories of Celceta04 Feb 2014
I was a bit hesitant when I bought a Vita. Compared to the 3DS, most other consoles' game libraries are pathetic. Being in the handheld space, and with such a meager library, no one looked worse than the Vita. Yet, my hesitation is slowly being assuaged as the Vita game library gains some really awesome games. Ys: Memories of Celceta is a welcome addition to the Vita lineup, especially for fans of action RPGs. I plowed through this game and enjoyed it very much. I actually played it so much in one session that my Vita ran out of battery! Exploring the large forest of Celceta, duking it out with baddies, powering up my equipment, and of course — saving the world — was a total blast. Instead of waxing poetic about how great this game is, I'd like to discuss three things that stuck out to me while playing.
Oddly enough, saving your game was weird! Ys can be played exclusively with the physical controls (i.e. buttons, joysticks). Navigating menus and certain actions could be completed using the touch screen, but I found myself always sticking to the physical controls. However, there was one place where touch controls were the only way to proceed: saving your game. So in essence, you’re playing a game that can be played exclusively using physical controls, but when you go to save your game, the controls no longer do anything! Obviously a minor user experience hiccup, but a hiccup nonetheless.
On a positive note, Ys addressed the issue of excessive back-tracking. In Ys, you are tasked with exploring the large, mysterious forest of Celceta. Fortunately, there is a system of fast-travel. As you explore the world, you discover monuments of different colors. When you touch a monument, you can fast travel to other monuments of the same color. For example, the starting town has orange monuments, the outside area has yellow monuments, and the forest has light blue monuments. But because you are restricted to fast-travel within one color, you still need to slow-travel between monuments of different colors. It’s usually fine, but the more colors you get, the more tedious it becomes. I was hoping that at some point, all monuments would lose their color attribute, but Ys one-upped me. Halfway through the game, you get a special item called the Golden Wing. The Golden Wing lets you warp to any monument from absolutely anywhere (no need to touch a monument to warp). Just when using the existing fast-travel system was beginning to feel tedious, the system becames even faster and more convenient.
And then there was the forging system that could’ve used some quality-of-life improvements. In Ys, you can reinforce your weapons and armor with materials to give them bonus attributes. For example, your weapon could potentially inflict poison, or your armor could develop resistance to paralysis. It’s possible to efficiently max out all these attributes by following a recipe. The recipe looks something like this: take a weapon and reinforce it with 8 Sturdy Shells, 8 Strong Hairs, 4 Titanic Bones, and 2 Amethyst. Sweet! That’s 5 reinforce operations, right? Nope! The game does not allow you to fuse multiple items at a time. For the aforementioned recipe, you are not performing 5 operations, but 22! If the game allowed multiple items to be reinforced at once, you could create the ultimate weapon with 15 operations. Instead, you’ll actually be performing 56… And you’ll need to keep track of how many of each item you’ve reinforced already, which I screwed up a few times!
Even though two of my three observations are somewhat negative, don’t let my post mislead you: this game is really great and I highly recommend it. If the Vita continues to get games where my only complaints are about user experience inconsistencies and quality-of-life improvements, I see a bright future ahead for the Vita.