Ys I & II Chronicles – First Impressions

Feels like it’s been a while since I wrote one of these “reviews.” Probably because it’s been a while since I felt so passionate about the beginning of a game. (Depression’s a jerk, that’s for sure.) However, I just started playing this game last night, and let me tell you: the impression it made on me is so incredible. Last time a game’s intro got to me this much was when I played Persona 3 for the first time.

At first, I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. I’m far more of a turn-based RPG fan. I got this game because it’s made by Nihon Falcom, the creators of one of my favorite RPGs of all time: Trails of Cold Steel. With that, I was expecting it to be a turn-based game, but when I realized it was an action RPG, it slightly turned me away. Only for a little bit, however. I gave it a day’s thought, then booted the game up last night. Let me say I was blown away.

The combat in Ys I is very simplistic. It was designed with accessibility in mind, so basically, all you need is the D-pad or analog stick to fight. You ram into the enemy, and if you hit them from the right angle, you can damage them without taking damage yourself. It’s simple, but when you get into a rhythm of ramming into enemies and grinding, it gets rather fun!

I can’t say much about the plot yet since I’m only two hours into the game and just made it to the first dungeon, but I can say that it’s one of those stories where less is really more. The game focuses a lot more on exploration and combat, but the story is very present. You know the protagonist well (for the most part), you understand the circumstances, and the plot still progresses. A lot of the dialogue mostly comes from talking to NPCs in the various towns, but that’s also where you get more insight on the plot. So in a way, you can sort of choose how much information you as the player take in.

Enough about that. The thing that really stuck out to me was the music. As a fan of the Legend of Heroes series, it’s no secret to me that Falcom games have kickass music, and this game is no exception. You start out in a town, and once you’ve done your exploring and talking to NPCs, the only other step you can think to do is to leave town despite everyone’s warnings saying it’s dangerous out there. However, the moment you step outside, you’re greeted by one of the most kickass overworld themes I think I’ve ever heard.

Let’s hope YouTube doesn’t take this video down.

Once I heard this song and got used to the incredibly addicting combat system, let’s just say I was absolutely hooked. This song, along with the simplistic-yet-amazing combat, makes you feel like a total badass when you’re going around wiping out the monsters threatening the local towns. I spent forever just grinding last night because this music never got old.

I certainly plan on playing the rest of the series after beating this game, that’s for sure. This was way too good of a first impression for me to pass up on the rest of the games.

Tales of Vesperia – First Impressions

The Tales series is something I meant to get into way sooner than I actually did. Back when I was a teenager, I guess you can say I started with Tales of Phantasia, only it was before there was an English patch for it. I just remember being astonished at not only the visual style for it being a SNES game, but also surprised that there was voice acting in it. I didn’t play much of it because of the language barrier, but still, this is a series that has always been at the back of my mind. Even when I was a younger teenager, I’d heard some of Motoi Sakuraba’s work from Tales of Symphonia. Since then, I’d been wanting to play this series even more.

Flash forward six or seven years into the future. As an adult, I’ve spent most of my gaming time with Persona, Final Fantasy, Shin Megami Tensei, and Dragon Quest, and I’ve played most, if not all the games in each series so far. (I haven’t beaten them yet because it takes me forever to get through games, but still.) I’m rather burned out on the RPGs I’d been playing, so I ask a good friend of mine what RPGs he’d recommend that aren’t in those series, so later, he sends me this massive list of recommendations. One of the games on there was Tales of Vesperia. I’m pretty sure that game is available on most modern gen consoles now, but I decided to grab the PS4 version. (Though if I knew it was on the Switch, I probably would have gotten it for that instead.)

The moment I booted up the game, I fell in love with the anime-esque art style. Sakuraba’s music hit me with a wave of nostalgia from my years of listening to Tales of Symphonia music. The voice actors all sounded familiar and almost embraced me emotionally with a sense of welcoming, like I was coming home from a long journey, if that cheesy comparison makes any sense. After the prologue, I was raring to go. I loved how the dungeon-crawling worked, though I did admittedly get lost frequently in the first dungeon because I was just not all that observant. It took me a little bit to adapt to the combat style, but eventually, I got the hang of it. It reminded me of what a traditional turn-based RPG would look like if it all played out in real time, and I still love it. It makes grinding not feel as much like a grind.

I don’t really have much to say since I’m only seven hours in and haven’t had much time to play it since booting it up, but I can safely say I am absolutely in love with this game. The characters are all so charming, the world feels amazing, the classic RPG elements make it feel familiar and comfortable to play, and even though I’m currently stuck on a boss right now, I’m still having an amazing time with the game. If you’re looking for a fresh RPG that also shares similarities with what we RPG fanatics have come to know and love, I’d highly recommend picking it up, or at least listening to the music. Motoi Sakuraba is a genius.