Ron’s Retro Reviews #13 – Ys: The Oath in Felghana

And the rest just simply works

Aside from the boss battles, the rest of the game falls into place like a normal game from the genre. Adol can uncover a few treasures and trinkets that will unlock secrets in the dungeons, granting him new abilities. A dash, a double jump, and the cyclone attack will be all you need by the journey’s end.

Armor and swords can be uncovered through exploration or expensive purchases at the local store, and a good amount of time can be sunk into improving the performance of Adol’s tools at the blacksmith.

Another important decision in the challenge comes from there being a lack of any healing items in the game! Adol can restore his hit points at any save crystal, but that means he must backtrack to restore his life or die. Death isn’t forgiving in this game either, dealing out huge losses by removing players of all their progress since the last save. This leaves it up to the player to see how long they can push their fortunes. No stockpiling potions for Adol. He’ll need to either grind up his level or find a way to flawlessly push through a dungeon if he wants to see the other side.

This makes the teleportation item one of the most important in the game. It doesn’t help Adol progress deeper into dungeons, but it does allow him to at least easily restart with his experience, gold, and items intact.

And there is the best aspect of all when it comes to Ys: The Oath in Felghana… its pacing. At the sacrifice of being a very deep, exploration-heavy game like The Legend of Zelda, Nihon Falcom counters with a very brisk paced game that can be completed in under 10 hours if the bosses don’t prove to be too challenging. Adol hacks his way through enemies, bounds through surprisingly strong platforming sections, comes to a boss, defeats the boss, and moves on to the next section of the game somewhere on the noticeably small world map.

Although it is rarely required, except for maybe right before the final boss battle, Ys: The Oath in Felghana is never about slowing Adol down to grind for experience points or Gold. Everything he needs to complete a dungeon is right in front of him, and only when a boss proves too difficult should he dive back to start gathering points.

Any complaints about the game should be directed at its sub-quests. Ys: The Oath of Felghana moves so quickly that it is easy to overlook a good many items, secrets, and missable requests from the townsfolk. And once they become unavailable, that’s it. They’re gone forever. Many of these require a walkthrough and aren’t naturally discovered unless an NPC drops a very obtuse hint.

Luckily, as I said, the game is only ten hours long, so any items can be picked up on a swift second playthrough. 10 hours isn’t that much of commitment. Ys: The Oath in Felghana isn’t not long, but it hits that “short and sweet” target most games miss these days. On the flip-side, it definitely doesn’t linger past its welcome either, like most games do these days.

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