XSEED Games may have single-handedly championed the Sony Vita at this year's E3. Not one, but three offerings are slated from the niche publishing localization house. Japanese RPGs like Valhalla Knights 3 and Ragnarok Odyseey Ace looked aces and should offer up plenty of monster-slaying distractions. But the third title, Ys: Memories of Celceta -- one of the few games in the series to have yet made a western appearance -- that has me more than glad to own Sony's portable powerhouse.
Following the adventure of series mainstay Adol Christin, the story of Memories of Celceta finds Adol in a strange new land with a bad case of amnesia. It's a pretty played-out scenario, but then again this is a quasi remake of Ys IV; a game that is 20 years old. So it should be no surprise if a fair share of classic tropes -- ones that have sculpted the genre into what it is today -- are sprinkled throughout the adventure.
Ys: Memories of Celceta (PlayStation Vita)
Publisher: XSEED Games
Release: Fall 2013
My time with Memories of Celceta veered far away from any story segments though, as the game was being shown off in its Japanese form. That being said, I have faith that -- however this retelling pans out -- it will be localized with the same care recent XSEED titles have been given. Their writing is some of the best in the business and while the Ys series tends to carry a more serious tone, they always find a few spots for some farcical banter.
Gameplay-wise, Memories of Celceta's battle system is very reminiscent to that of Ys VII on the PSP. Aside from Adol, two other party members are accessible during combat -- granted they've been met in the story -- and can be switched to on a moment's notice to exploit an enemy's weakness. Adol is your typical sword-wielding mid-range fighter, and the other two complement the mix with brute hand-to-hand combat and agile projectile volleys. Timing is also crucial to battle as a well-placed block or perfectly-executed dodge can quickly turn a challenging fight in favor.
Typical to Ys games, the real-time combat in Memories of Celceta really shines. During my hands-on demonstration, I easily lost track of time as I was transfixed on slaughtering everything in my sight. The action is on the frantic side, with all three party members going at it, but I never lost track of what I was doing; even when switching party members or unleashing one the visually impressive super attacks each character possesses.
The game looks sharp on the Vita screen too. The world is bright and colorful, full of bloom effects, and the scenery is far from sparse. Animations are smooth and, at least from my time with the game, there isn't an ounce of slowdown when the screen is exploding full of ocular grandeur.
Additionally, there is some minimal touch interactivity aside from accessing and navigating the game's menus. During my exploration, I came to a section where I needed to use my range character's projectile to shoot down some boulders to make an impromptu bridge. A simple tap of the target on the screen and I was on my way. It was nothing that was truly necessary, but it sped up the game's flow and was non-intrusive.
I wish I could have spent more time with Memories of Celceta and really dug into the game's deeper systems, but just listening to the music in the trailer alone is enough to get me pumped for some hot Ys action. The series has always paired its melodic, yet intense, score well with its twitch-based action-RPG combat. If my time with Memories of Celceta is any indication, then the latest installment looks to keep that tradition intact when it arrives sometime this fall.