The Ys series is one that’s been around for years, but admittedly one we know very little about. It’s better late than never, as Memories of Celceta has opened our eyes to the series. Celceta may be our first Ys game; it definitely won’t be our last
Chronicling the adventures of Adol Christin, Memories of Celceta is chronologically the fourth in the series (there are more than ten in total) and is the third game to be the fourth. Confused? Well, there are two previous games that have the “IV” prefix, but both made by different teams. Memories of Celceta is made by the original Ys team (Nihon Falcom) and is now considered the only canonical entry. Thus ends the history lesson.
The good news is you don’t need to have caught up on the series to enjoy Celceta. Adol Christin at the start finds himself struck with amnesia; so much like you Adol is newly discovering this world also. While it’s possible there are a number of nods to previous games (we wouldn’t know) it’s most certainly a self-contained story that can be enjoyed by everyone. And the story is definitely one that will get its hooks into you. The initial plot point having Adol sent on a quest to fill in a map, exploring the uncharted areas of the world, soon transforms into something else entirely. Along the way uncovering your lost memories and completing a variety of side quests.
One of the best things about the story is Adol coming across characters he previously met before losing his memory. It seems wherever poor Adol went misfortune followed and with each new city or town discovered a new problem arose just as Adol departed. So naturally it’s up to you to solve the problems that may or may not have been caused by our fearless adventurer. Once the problem has been solved then a number of side quests will open up in that area. These are promoted on boards and once read are automatically added to your quest list. These aren’t usually that interesting, mainly dealing with trades and killing things, but will be required if you want to get some much needed cash and equipment.
Mechanically Memories of Celceta has a number of layers that are introduced separately, and in doing so eases the player into the gameplay without overwhelming. While initially starting with Adol you’ll soon have a number of party members added to your roster as the game unfolds, swapping members out when needed. With all three of your characters visible, you’ll be controlling one of them while the AI takes care of the other two. What could’ve been a mess of constant babysitting is saved by the computer AI being more than capable. They will attack your enemies, dodge and generally keep out of harm’s way. And each character coming with their own unique ability, so your first addition to the team will be Duren who has the ability to pick locks, others that get added have skills ranging from cutting down rocks forming new paths to magically activating switches. Each character is useful, and better yet, they all gain experience points, levelling up no matter if they’re in the party or not.
The combat is one of the most pleasing aspects of Memories of Celceta. As previously mentioned there are many layers to the mechanics, particularly when it comes to the combat. Standard attacks are coupled with special skills, draining skill points, these attacks are more devastating than regular attacks with new ones being learned as you level up. On top of this there is the dodge and guard, doing either just before being hit results in the game entering slow motion for a short period allowing you to wail on the enemy. All of these abilities will be needed if you’re to overcome some of the tougher boss battles.
If there’s one downside with this otherwise fantastic package, it would be the graphical quality. It’s not the prettiest game, neither is it the worst. A lot of it could come down to the art style, which is a little bland and uninspiring, featuring your standard JRPG-style character designs and prerequisite environments, from mountains to forests.
This however never took away from the enjoyment. The music is the catchiest we’ve heard in quite some time, and the whole game feels made for handhelds, in the sense that you can save anywhere you wish. With travelling around the world done with magical stones that are scattered across the world (along with another, faster travel option revealed further through the game), it’s perfect for pick up and play action, a rarity with this sort of game. And with completion time around the sixteen hour mark, one that doesn’t outstay its welcome.
With the likes of OlliOlli, Surge Deluxe, tXk and now this, never before has a handheld or console gotten off to such a fantastic start to the year. A fantastic adventure from beginning to end, and one that everyone should play.