Review

Ys: Memories of Celceta Review

  • Game release: November 27, 2013
  • Reviewed:
  • VITA

More than just nostalgia.

Ys (pronounced "ease," no apostrophe!) is a legendary, highly influential Japanese action role-playing game franchise with a long, strange history of development and releases, both overseas and abroad. One of the strangest things about the series is that its original developer, Falcom, didn't make an Ys IV, instead giving the story concepts to different developers and letting them run with them individually. As a result, there are multiple Ys IVs, but none have been considered a true part of the series. Until now, that is: Falcom decided to make an "official" Ys IV as its debut Vita game, calling it Memories of Celceta. The result is one of the best action RPGs yet released on the platform.

Celceta puts us back in the shoes of the fiery-haired Ys series hero, Adol. Adol has just wrapped up what seems to be another adventure, but he's got a serious problem: he doesn't remember any of it. In fact, he doesn't remember anything about his life. Fortunately, he runs into an old acquaintance, an "information dealer" named Duren, as he's recovering at a tavern. With Duren's help, he remembers that he is a traveling adventurer who had set out into the great forest of Celceta--uncharted territory that is fabled to consume the memories of those who enter. The pair is offered compensation from the local government if they can create a map of Celceta, but will Adol be able to conquer its dangers again and recover his lost memories in the process?

Cleverly designed bosses challenge you with unusual patterns and devastating attacks.

Memories of Celceta is filled with strange and intriguing locales

The first thing you'll most likely notice about Ys: Memories of Celceta is that it looks dated. The low-resolution character models and textures look more akin to a PSP game than a high-resolution PS Vita game, and the frame rate has an odd tendency to drop at certain points where you wouldn't think the game would be taxing the hardware. Celceta isn't ugly by any stretch--it's refreshingly colorful, has some beautiful settings and architecture, and features very cool character and enemy designs--but it could have looked significantly better. Fortunately, you get over the disappointment of the graphics pretty quickly.

Memories of Celceta is an action RPG through and through, and does little to stray from the established formula of that genre. You travel to a town; exit to explore the unfamiliar territory of Celceta; encounter a maze, cave, or dungeon; solve some puzzles; reach another settlement; get plot details and/or a new party recruit; and continue forth. The idea of being asked to map out all of Celceta works well in context, since exploring the various non-town areas is one of the most fun parts of Memories of Celceta. The forest is vast, filled with treasures, artifacts, hidden areas, and natural resources, and the process of finding everything, using newfound abilities to connect areas, and seeing your map gradually expand is immensely satisfying. Ys, as a series, has always used "the spirit of exploration" as a motivation for hero Adol, and it's nice to see that spirit captured so well. While the "amnesia as plot impetus" trope is almost comically overused in games, Celceta manages to do more with it than you might expect. Every so often, the screen grows fuzzy, indicating that a lost memory for Adol is nearby. When he touches the memory, he sees a brief glimpse of his youth or his previous travels. There are hints and stat boosts scattered throughout his fragmented memories, so seeking them all out is beneficial from a story and a gameplay standpoint.

Hearing a sweeping synth-rock melody punctuate a flurry of sword strikes, mace combos, and stalagmites exploding into a shower of loot is a delightful event that you'll experience countless times.

She's stunned by the lack of detail in her character model.

But the wilderness is also teeming with creatures, all of which view Adol and company as a threat. Almost every area has a pack of vicious beasts to beat down. Thankfully, combat is one of the best parts of Celceta. Long gone is the antiquated early Ys combat that had you running into enemies and hoping for the best; it has been replaced by more traditional combat that is fantastically fast, skillful, and highly rewarding.

A team of up to three of your party members can be onfield at any time, and they all participate in combat. You control one of these characters while the CPU handles the other two. You've got a pretty solid arsenal: basic combo strings you can use to pummel enemies, charged attacks you can store by not pressing attack buttons for a few seconds, and Tales-style special attacks that cost skill points (which you recover by using basic strikes). While there isn't a magic system, some characters' special skills make use of attacks like fiery explosions and gravity spheres. Instead of the typical RPG elemental weakness/resistance, enemies have vulnerabilities and resistances to striking, piercing, and slashing physical attacks. Since every character wields only one weapon type, you may find yourself wanting to switch whom you control when you run up against a group of foes with a weak point to exploit or a pattern that makes certain weapons more advantageous.

Foes aren't just going to sit back and take your punishment, though, and they can perform some pretty nasty attacks that take you down if you play carelessly. Dodging and guarding are as easy as a button press, but performing them with perfect timing yields additional rewards: dodging at the right time slows the enemy down for a precious few seconds, while a well-executed flash guard not only nullifies damage, but guarantees a few critical hits afterward. Finishing off enemies with skills and using their weaknesses against them also results in greater rewards upon their defeat. Combat in Celceta is easy to understand and fun to engage in, and it rewards you for playing well, but it's not a total cakewalk. Some enemies are made to give and withstand punishment, leaving you to decide whether it's worth the risk to engage them or not, and the cleverly designed bosses challenge you with unusual patterns and devastating attacks, and you must employ less obvious strategies to take them down.

The forest is vast, filled with treasures, artifacts, hidden areas, and natural resources.

There's a lot to love about Memories of Celceta: the thrill of exploring, the rush of combat, and the trademark Falcom synth-rockin' soundtrack. The complaints that can be levied against it are fairly minor: the visuals aren't so hot, your teammate AI can be questionable at times, and there are a few frustrating spots, such as a sequence where you must dodge instant-kill lightning bolts in a field. But perhaps the biggest complaint could be its relative lack of innovation: when it comes right down to it, there really isn't much new here. Celceta is a fairly standard action RPG that takes many of the best elements of the genre and assembles them into a single terrfic game. Those elements are assembled quite skillfully, but everything you've seen in Memories of Celceta--even nonessential features like weapon enhancement and side quests you accept at town pubs--is something you've probably encountered before. If you've only heard of Ys as an amazing, genre-defining classic series (which it most certainly was when it first hit the scene), you might find yourself disappointed at how familiar the gameplay and story progression are.

Taken strictly on its own merits, however, Ys: Memories of Celceta is a wonderful adventure. It's great fun to wander in the forests and dungeons, bashing foes and finding lost treasures to uncover ancient secrets. Hearing a sweeping synth-rock melody punctuate a flurry of sword strikes, mace combos, and stalagmites exploding into a shower of loot is a delightful event that you'll experience countless times in the journey through the mysterious forest. Memories of Celceta is an adventure well worth embarking on for any Vita owner.

The Good
Frantic, fun combat that rewards skillful play
Challenging, well-designed bosses
Delivers an engaging feeling of discovery and exploration
Phenomenal synth-rock soundtrack
The Bad
Dated visuals
Does little that you haven't seen before
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

After The Oath in Felghana and Ys Seven, Heidi was greatly looking forward to Memories of Celceta. After 25 hours with the newest YS game, she's happy that Falcom's first Vita game delivered the goods. She'll still argue that Ys I and II are pretty awful to play by modern standards, though.

Discussion

43 comments
wizardboyus
wizardboyus

is the combat system similar to the Tales games?

TechnoDrago
TechnoDrago

I played this game for a while (got the collector's edition) and I have to admit, I love every second of playing this game. The best part is that you don't have to follow any particular path to unlock your abilities and the storyline is pretty interesting along with the attitudes of the characters. I have to agree with the review, graphics are a little dated, and it can get dull after fighting certain monsters. It's a retelling of the YS series so to me, I enjoy it too much to let that bother me. It's my first time playing this series, and this version doesn't disappoint!

bjornborgue
bjornborgue

I've played the Ark of Napishtim, The Oath in Felghana and Seven and oh boy... Sure, they were decent the first 3-5 hours but once you settle in, it doesn't get any more generic and mindless than these games. The bosses were a highlight but the tedium of normal battles was too much. Is there really such a thing as an Ys fan?! I really need my Terranigma and Vagrant Story sequels...

Oloryn
Oloryn

Great review, this was a game I was looking to pick up, and locking in an 8 lets me know what to expect. Nothing revolutionary, but still entertaining, and I'm okay with that.

HeadExploder
HeadExploder

Seems like a fair review to me. I've spent several hours with the game, and I'm glad Heidi addressed the issues that I've noticed as well... the graphics and framerate are things the development team could have handled better. And yes, having "nothing new" in the Action RPG genre is a valid criticism. If you've played these types of games for around a decade now, you'll be thirsty for something innovative and new.

Genres should always try to advance themselves, with each installment no less. While I appreciate it when games try to stay true to their old school roots, innovation never hurts, and is a better route than staying in the stagnant past.

One complaint I have that wasn't mentioned in this review is that it appears only 5-10% of the game's dialogue is voiced.... Oath of Felghana was 90% voiced and is a 4 year old PSP game! It's a minor complaint, but it gives the game less heart than seen in previous installments. Good game and good review nonetheless. Where I stand, I agree with the score.

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

Sounds good, Enjoyed the original so for sure I'll get something out of this one.

CoRiNi
CoRiNi

Ys never disappoints.

Dragon_Nexus
Dragon_Nexus

Ahh, that old JRPG problem of "nothing you haven't seen before".

It's always a shame to come across that in a review. The genre really doesn't know how to evolve.

nate1222
nate1222

Glad to see the Ys series is still doing well. Been a fan since Ys III for SNES. Now I have Ys The Oath in Felghana (Ys III remake), Ys Origins, and Ys Books I&II...all for PC via Steam. Love'em.

cjlebron
cjlebron

Very good review...though I wonder why the complaint of "not much new here" only seems to count against non-Call Of Duty games. 

Halloll
Halloll

is the game button machy? the only Ys game I played( forgot which one) was nothing but button mashing for the first few hours.

jchowch
jchowch

The only Ys games I ever played were the First and Second ones that came on the Turbografx CD (props to anyone who remembers that) and then replayed then on the PSP.  I know there have been a bunch in-between but I'll probably pick this up.

chano880
chano880

Can I pick it up even if I haven't played the previous games in the YS series ? Will the story make any sense that way in order to enjoy the game ? 

Also will this be released in Europe (if it hasn't already) ?

I'm itching for a vita game and I do love RPG's, this should do the trick until FFX HD remaster comes out !

mrintro
mrintro

I just started playing this game recently and it's pretty fun. It's also one of the few vita games that feels like it was designed for the Vita (aside from the graphics that could be a little better).

sugrim
sugrim

"Does little that you haven't seen before".........Please! you could say the same thing about Forza, Grand Turismo, All FPS and Sports games. Sticking to the core purpose of the series is what fans love. To bad it is treated as a negative.

gazza_gamerNZ
gazza_gamerNZ

Having beaten Y's Seven earlier this year I'm looking forward to getting back into this series again.

Joedgabe
Joedgabe

I have to ask out of curiosity. So if a gaming device is released with weak hardware in modern time, it will never get a bad merit saying it had bad graphics right? but if a gaming device is released trying to push for better hardware and software in its area it's going to be open for getting shut down for not meeting expectations ? I'm confused.. so all consoles should just do the Nintendo then? I though pushing hardware was just a plus, an icing on the cake... not a welcome wagon to take it down for trying to go that extra mile o.O

sssb
sssb

Look awesome, wish i could play it in ps3 

Business_Fun
Business_Fun

I downloaded the Ys 1 and 2 double pack for the PSP and I think they're pretty darn fun, modern standards notwithstanding :)

I may have to pick this up if it's headed towards Europe.

DinoBuster
DinoBuster

For all intents and purposes, I find that Memories of Celceta is a more refined and satisfying Ys 7.

The combat mechanics are very similar, as is the acquisition of items and loot. The emphasis on exploration, and the large maps are a big plus, as most Ys games are generally really linear experiences.


Good review, but I disagree about the graphics though. I think they look rather nice.

RPG_Fan_I_Am
RPG_Fan_I_Am

Graphics... PFFFT if you was a true Ys fan you would love these graphics. Game looks amazing to me. Even if the graphics look like a PSP game.

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

PC version please, just like Oath and Origin.  Go go go.

Lhomity
Lhomity

Thanks for the review, Heidi. I'd love to play this on my Vita, but it isn't out in Australia until Feb 21. Thinking about importing it before then, but I've got so much on my backlog already. ;(

Bhemont
Bhemont

@TechnoDrago Tell me, what is your definition of "pretty interesting storyline"? Is it a masterpiece or just some average jRPG story? Thinking about purchasing, but want to know more about the story.   Never liked the previous YS games, so, maybe it's a no brainer. :p

Jag85
Jag85

@Dragon_Nexus 


Ys IV is a remake of an action RPG that released 20 years ago in 1993... What else did you expect? 


There are countless "evolved" Japanese RPG's out there, but this is not one of them, and was never intended to be.


ZEeduardo94
ZEeduardo94

@Halloll According to what I read on The Escapist it is, at first, button mashy, but there are a lot of enemy types so button-mashing is not always a good strategy

BarkingSpider81
BarkingSpider81

I loved the Turbografx CD! Yeah, the only Ys I've played was way back in the day. I'll probably give this one a try.

benzvijer
benzvijer

calm down man you it is gamespot last time when someone gave onest review on gamespot he got fired

also this is same site that gave forza 5 a nine just for having nice visuals with few tracks

and gave gran turismo 6 a 7 i guess beacuse their reviewers dont really play racing games at all

and dont understand what does game need to have to be good

sugrim
sugrim

@Joedgabe I was wondering the same thing. Hey look how long it took for this review to come out, clearly they put little effort into it.

pupp3t_mast3r
pupp3t_mast3r

@Lhomity I hate how RPG's take forever to come out in Aussie!! Waited forever for Persona 4G =

TechnoDrago
TechnoDrago

@Bhemont@TechnoDrago 

Well, if you never liked the previous ones, then there's nothing for you here being that they said it's a homage to the previous ones. For me, this is the first time playing this series, so the amnesia, the secrets, and storytelling or each character is interesting because each character tells their story about meeting him yet he doesn't know a thing about them. Every town opens to a new quest and new discoveries as well as different items and abilities depending on people in your party. But like I stated earlier, if you never like the previous YS series, then there's nothing for you to enjoy here.  

Dragon_Nexus
Dragon_Nexus

@Jag85@Dragon_Nexus So...because it's a sequel to a 20 year old game, it can't innovate?

"Not intending to innovate" is a terrible excuse. Especially in a generation that decrys games like Call of Duty for being the same thing every time.

Jag85
Jag85

@Dragon_Nexus @Goron24 @Jag85 


Nonsense argument. This is a remake combining the two previous Ys IV games into one. And for the record, the SNES version of Ys IV was the "canon" sequel up until now. Complaining about "lack of evolution" over a remake of 20 year-old games is just plain dumb.


Ys: Memories of Celceta More Info

  • Released
    • PlayStation Vita
    Ys: Memories of Celceta has players revisit the land and characters of the Japanese cult favorite Ys IV. This re-envisioning of the fourth installment in the Ys series takes a new approach, changing and framing the story of Ys IV within an all-new tale of conspiracy, deception and mystery.
    8.7
    Average User RatingOut of 33 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Ys: Memories of Celceta
    Developed by:
    Falcom
    Published by:
    Falcom, NIS America, Xseed Games
    Genres:
    Action, Role-Playing
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes