Developer: Nihon Falcom
After playing Oath in Felghana I went on to Ys Seven. The Ys series has changed in gameplay many times, but Seven stands out for actually giving Adol party members and being generally more modern and RPG-like. It’s the optimal choice for new players getting into Ys since it plays a lot less old school that Oath, and damn it is addicting as hell. Ys Seven is easier than Oath by quite a bit, but is nonetheless an exciting ARPG.
Seven follows our red-headed adventurer Adol and his wall-crushing friend Dogi to Altago, a country overseen by five dragons. They arrive at Altago city, a prosperous city that is popular for merchants to set up businesses and convenient for trade. However, the land has become plagued by earthquakes and strong monsters recently, and it’s up to Adol and the party members that he eventually gains to travel around Altago and find out what the heck is going on from the five dragons who have been in slumber.
Things have changed quite a bit since previous Ys games, to becoming more RPG-like. First off is the fact that Adol has party members. Including Adol, there are 7 party members in total although you can only have 3 in your active party and Adol cannot leave the party. There are also three types of attacks: slash, strike, and pierce. Each type is effective against different enemies and you get two party members of each type not counting Adol, who begins as a slash type but can eventually use all 3. Instead of bracelet magic you get skills that come with your weapons. You can assign skills to buttons and they level up as you use them. Level a skill to level 1 and you keep it forever, regardless of equipped weapon. There’s a shitload of weapons and skills for each character, although I only ended up using a handful of them and basically forgot I had skills most of the time. Using skills eats up the SP gauge, which refills as you attack or Flash Guard. Oh yes, Flash Guard. It is absolutely fabulous and wonderful when you simply can’t dodge something. On default settings, holding R and pressing L will allow your character to guard against enemy attacks. Time it well and it will help a lot when you’re up against something hard to dodge, but if your timing is off then you’ll take a critical hit. There’s also the extra gauge, which fills up slowly as you attack and allows you to unleash a powerful limit break when full.
Instead of jumping you get the evade button, which basically makes you dash in a certain direction and makes it easier to dodge stuff. It’s very useful and I also spam it a lot to make walking faster lol.
The boss fights are exciting and challenging, being the highlight of the game. Just SO. MUCH. FUN. The downside is that the dungeons are really easy, even towards the end the enemies didn’t launch any devastating attacks even though I was struggling through several dungeons in Oath. The whole of Seven felt easier than Oath, since I played Seven on hard and that felt easier than Oath on normal. The fact that you are allowed a variety of healing and revival items into battle (most items are limited to 1 each, although single-character HP recovery items have different limits on each difficulty. Normal limits you to 5 each and Hard to 3 each) makes the game much more forgiving and you can afford taking more damage than in Oath of Felghana. There is no retrying bosses with reduced difficulty. The party members you don’t control deal half of the damage they would deal, but in return the ally AI is competent and amazing at dodging.
I really don’t have too much complaints about the battle system because I honestly loved it. Controls are smooth and customizable, and also very noob-friendly.
Ys Seven is longer than Oath, lasting about 30 hours if you bother with sidequests. There’s also quite a bit of dialogue and story. I’m accustomed to some very long and dialogue-heavy RPGs, so I actually like Ys Seven for being longer than the usual Ys and having more dialogue (and it never felt draggy). The story isn’t going to surprise anyone who plays games, except for maybe one plot twist that didn’t go as I expected. I liked the plot of Ys Seven better than Oath, and the world felt more vibrant too. It’s a long ways off from Sora no Kiseki, but I got attached to Altago and its people by the end. Ys Seven’s plot is nowhere near original, and it even feels very traditional in the second half when you go around looking for the dragons again. The ending felt lacking though, and would have definitely benefited from being longer and having more dialogue.
Don’t expect much outside of your usual RPG tropes, and while some characters felt like walking plot devices rather than worthy members of your party, I grew to really like the main cast. These days I find that I like RPGs more for the characters that fight alongside the hero, rather than plot or whatever (although bonus points if both story and characters are amazing), so I’m fine with Ys Seven and most games that have likeable characters but lackluster plot.
Adol – Our red-headed silent hero who wanders around look for adventure is caught up with Altago’s problems after being chosen by the dragons and being able to hear their voices. He’s the same ol’ Adol.
Dogi – Adol’s beefy friend and travelling companion who can crush walls. Everyone should be familiar with him by now.
Tia – A blue-haired girl well-educated in medicine and lives in the poor part of Altago while caring for her adopted mute little sister. She’s a sweet flower-selling girl who gets saved by Adol from a jerkass Dragon Knight trying to hit on her.
Aisha – A bossy girl who forcibly joins Adol’s party and travels with them to the different towns in Altago. She’s actually a badly disguised princess of Altago who wants to go outside to see the problems of the people for herself. She’s skilled with the bow, and definitely not the prim and proper type of princess.
Geis – A mercenary who first appeared in Ys VI, he sees Adol as a rival and eventually joins the party. His intentions are good, but his communication skills suck and manages to cause much misunderstanding. He is accompanied by 3 fairies.
Mustafa – The young elder of Segram village who has a sick little sister and harbours hatred for his father who is a general in Altago. It’s just a son who is tsundere towards his father.
Elk – a mischievous boy from the village of Shannoa, later revealed to be the eldress’ grandson. His parents got killed when he was young and he acts like a brat, but eventually looks up to Adol.
Mishera – Blind wind priestess who is armed with a variety of wind skills and is able to see the future. She is the eldress of Kylos and is always calm.
The character designs look nicer than the ones in Oath, and the environments look more vibrant and detailed. Some of the dungeons looked great and the character models are decent. It’s not mind-blowing, but the graphics look pleasing to the eyes and Falcom isn’t exactly known for cutting-edge graphics anyways. Boss designs range from nice to “who the hell approved this?” (seriously, that Wind Dragon was just…). Towns are lively, some more appealing than others. Desert villages are always boring, but Altago is large and populated and Kylos is beautiful. I also like the design of a certain spoileriffic town.
Wonderful Falcom music is wonderful. I’ve noticed that I don’t usually say much for music because I know jack about music theory and genres and stuff so I can only say 3 things: a) it sounds great, b) OK not memorable, or c) was annoying. Anyways Ys Seven belongs to the first option.
Ys Seven is a great game, and probably the best one for Ys newcomers on the PSP. Gameplay is fun as hell and boss fights are challenging, although easier than other Ys games overall. I’d say the Hard difficulty is perfect, and should’ve been the Normal mode. Story leans on the simplistic and predictable old-school side, but sometimes it’s good not to overcomplicate things. I liked the characters a whole lot, and I definitely recommend Ys Seven. I was, however, disappointed in the lack of post-game content. After your beat the game, there is no New Game+ or anything and you just go back to the title screen. There is no difficult hidden post-game boss nor is there a music gallery or Boss Rush mode. Seriously, I really wanted a Boss Rush mode because the bosses were the best part of the game and previous games had a boss rush mode.
All in all, a great game that is loads of fun and never feels dull.