Game Info:

Ys Seven
Developed By: Nihon Falcom/XSEED Games/Hyde, Inc.
Published By: XSEED Games
Release Date: August 30, 2017 (PC); August 17, 2010 (PSP)
Available On: Windows (reviewed), PSP, PS Vita
Genre: Action Role-Playing Game
Number of Players: 1
ESRB Rating: Not Rated (PSP: T for Blood, Fantasy Violence, Mild Language)
MSRP: $24.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you XSEED Games for sending us this game to review!

Ys Seven was an important turning point for the Ys franchise when it was released, as it was the first PSP only release, and it was also the basis of the game engine that would come to define Ys ever since. Before Seven, Adol was always alone in his adventures. Here, he has a party, where up to three members at a time each lend a hand, and they can help not only as additional life bars if Adol gets low, but they also attack with different types, like slash, strike, or pierce. This system continued in the next Ys game, Memories of Celceta. It is also the first title where everything in the game is 3D rendered; previous to this, the characters were all 2D sprites in a 3D rendered world, or completely 2D in the case of Ys I & II.

What makes this release unique is that, previous to Ys Seven, all Ys games (with the exception of a couple of SNES releases) were all on PC. Today, you can buy all but one Ys game that was released in the west on Windows PC, as they were originally meant to run there. That includes Ys I & II, Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim, Ys: The Oath in Felghana, and Ys Origin. And now, that list also includes Ys Seven. Ys VIII: The Lacrimosa of Dana is scheduled to be released soon on PlayStation and Windows, and so that only leaves Ys: Memories of Celceta as not having a western PC release. (Yet?) Also, this is the first PSP port to PC from XSEED Games, which opens up the opportunity for more ports in the future, as they have brought us a lot of great PSP games in the past.

Ys Seven takes place in Altago, where Adol and his buddy Dogi arrive relatively unscathed (a rare successful boat ride, which Dogi is faithful to point out). Shortly after arriving, they get into some trouble, though Adol is quite famous by this point in his life. The king ends up taking an interest in him, and asks him to investigate some local disturbances. As is often the case, it doesn't take long before Adol finds himself tightly wrapped up in some local crisis, which he gladly takes upon himself to solve. Every one of the locals gives him several opportunities to back out, but Adol is nothing if not an eternal do-gooder for those in need, and assists them enthusiastically.

Before long he is then chosen to be a hero for the people, which surprises everyone but Dogi; this isn't the first time such a thing has happened. It has to be said that Dogi's writing is excellent and quite funny at times. Really all of the localization is great; XSEED nails it as always. Though one of the women in town is called a 'vulgar woman', and indeed she is; most of the curse words spoken in the game are done by her.

Ys Seven

Strong Points: Fun, standalone Ys adventure of a good length; likable characters; excellent soundtrack; great first Ys game for series newcomers, since it's not as challenging; great boss battles; interesting skill system; sixty frames per second gameplay feels great; nice graphics options; great performance, even on lower end hardware
Weak Points: No resolutions above 1920x1080; graphics feel dated at times
Moral Warnings: Action violence; some scenes include blood; alcohol use mentioned; a few female characters wear revealing clothing; some curse words like '*ss', 'd*mn', 'h*ll', 'b*tch', and 'b*st*rd'; magic use; various deities are worshiped, including the tritheism church, as well as other local gods

In case you are not familiar, Ys is a top down action role playing game (RPG), where you attack various enemies with your sword, or similar melee weapons for non-Adol characters. The action is very swift and fluid, which has always been a highlight of the Ys series. There are up to seven different characters that you can have in your party at any one time, though only three can be active. In each case, two use slash attacks, two strike, and two pierce, while Adol is primarily slash, though later on he can use other kinds as well, so any party can be viable. Pierce is probably my favorite because of how fast you can attack, though some enemies are completely resistant to it, which is a shame. Nothing is completely resistant to slash, though it does a whole lot less damage in resistant cases. It's pretty important to have some representation of each attack type, though bosses are rarely strong or weak to anything, so you can usually bring your favorites.

Characters can be switched out at the press of a button, which can really come in handy when someone is about to die, or you need another attack type available. Each weapon has a skill embedded in it, and can be leveled up by repeated use. Once you reach level one, you can keep it equipped and use any weapon you like. Skills cost SP, and that meter increases fairly quickly, especially if you use charged regular attacks or special items which make it full up more quickly.

There are also Extra skills, which are very powerful attacks with an equivalently long charge up time. Typically, I found myself holding off on using them except for on bosses, because it takes several minutes for the skills to recharge. Each character has their own skills and Extra skill, which can make deciding who to choose important to your success or play style. These Extra skills have their own meter, which is charged up by using normal skills.

The highlight of any Ys game has always been the boss battles, which is no exception here. Falcom seems to be a master at this point of making large, intimidating bosses, with appropriately excellent music to go with them. While I found the bosses a bit easier than some other entries, it was by no means a walk in the park; if you want a real challenge, discipline yourself to not use items. That'll set you straight.

Having played all of the modern western releases of Ys games at this point, it's become fairly obvious how Seven really changed things up quite a bit. As previously mentioned, it's the first true 3D entry, and it's the first entry where you fight as a team. But it's also the first of the more story heavy entries in the series. With the possible exception of Ys Origin (which is the only game not to star Adol), most Ys games are light on exposition and heavy on gameplay. This is also true here, but there are many more cut scenes and character interactions which makes this a much more story driven experience. It's also much longer, as it took me over forty hours, which is about double what the other PC Ys games took me to beat for the first time. The only bummer is that there is no Boss Rush mode or New Game+, though to be fair, only Celceta has a New Game+ mode, which was released after Seven. Boss Rush is a much more noticeable absence.

Ys Seven
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 67%
Violence - 6/10
Language - 7/10
Sexual Content - 5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

Comparing the PC to the PSP release, I would say that the PC one is noticeably superior. I purchased the PSP version a few years ago on sale, and I had never gotten around to playing it, so I was happy to review this new PC release. And I'm glad I did, as it is objectively the definitive version of the game. Content wise it's identical – there are no new quests or modes. The art is very close as well, though in some cases they had access to higher resolution art, while in others they did not, so it can be a bit inconsistent at times. The frame rate is the real winner here – sixty frames per second is such a huge upgrade over thirty in an action game like this that the game just feels wonderful. While the textures are sometimes a bit lackluster, you do get used to it, and the game is worth the visual fidelity sacrifice.

I have noticed a few bugs that hopefully get sorted out soon. For the best experience, make sure that your desktop and monitor is set to a supported resolution, like 1080p, and play the game in borderless window mode. Using fullscreen mode, I noticed significant frame rate inconsistencies, and disabling v-sync crashes the game for some reason. Changing the graphical settings in game rather than through the launcher can also cause crashes. The game does not recognize the gamepad if it isn't started with it connected, which is not an uncommon issue, but something to be aware of.

Outside of those things, it has been an extremely stable and enjoyable experience. As long as you use borderless window mode performance is excellent, even on my vastly underpowered GPD Win with an Atom processor inside. Just be sure to check your settings each time you switch PCs, as Steam Cloud seems to include graphical settings along with the save data. (I reported all of these issues to XSEED Games; hopefully they get resolved, as they are historically very responsive to bug reports.)

As is often the case with Falcom games, the soundtrack is wonderful. The town theme had me whistling along (much to my wife's dismay), and the battle themes had me moving in my seat. While I am not ready to declare a ranking of the various Ys soundtracks at this point (as they are all so good), this one definitely delivers, and if nothing else, is consistently good. There are no stinkers here.

Like many action RPGs, there is fantasy violence, where enemies fade away when defeated. There is a scene with blood on the ground after a violent act, and there is a red splash when enemies are defeated, but no blood or gore. Alcohol use is mentioned, but there are no drunk characters. Some females wear fairly skimpy outfits, though most of the time it is not easily discernible because the 3D models have a rather low polygon count. The 2D portraits portray it clearly though. One character, an executioner named Ursa, wears a skimpy leather outfit with exposed parts of her breasts. She also has a strong liking for whips and torture, and some of the male NPCs appreciate that about her. Curse words like '*ss', 'd*mn', 'h*ll', 'b*tch', and 'b*st*rd' are used.

Magic is used in this game, mostly by the enemies, with some used by player characters as well. There are two sets of gods; the first one is the official church of Altago, which is called Tritheism. They worships gods of the earth, sky, and sea. *spoiler* The other set are the gods that created the region, the five dragons of Altago. These are worshiped by the locals in the rural areas, and are the 'real' gods of the region that Adol receives power from. *end spoiler*

Ys Seven is another excellent entry is one of my favorite action RPG series. The combat is fun, the music is fantastic, the characters are all likable, and the other systems are very enjoyable also. Even the story is interesting. And of course another adventure, another girl left behind, though she takes it pretty well. I really enjoyed my time with Ys Seven, and as long as the content is age appropriate, is an easy recommendation.

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Jason Gress

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