The PlayStation Vita was beloved by its fanbase and saw quite a lot of support by third party developers throughout its lifetime, but that lifetime ended up being cut short by Sony and left many great games on the handheld. Now though, more than a few of the notable PS Vita games have been making their way to other platforms and the latest to do so happens to be Ys: Memories of Celceta, which itself is a replacement of a pair of older titles in the series. Originally released back in 2013, has the jump to the PlayStation 4 and a less portable format helped this notable RPG hold up?
The Great Forest of Celceta is said to cause those who enter it to lose their way and most likely their lives so when the red-haired adventurer Adol Christin manages to return from entering the dangerous place, the information dealer Duren is quick to speak with him. Unfortunately for him, Adol is once again suffering from severe amnesia to the point that he doesn’t even know his own name and was exhausted to the point of collapse upon returning. While Duren does his best to try and catch Adol up on what he knows about him, a threat strikes the town the pair reside in as the local mine has become infested with monsters.
In an attempt to find out what is happening, Adol manages to find what appears to be a fragment of his memory before venturing deep into the mines and saving those trapped within. Thanks to their bravery and skill in combat, the local Governor offers Adol a new goal, to help map out the depths of the Great Forest in an attempt to learn its secrets and whether or not it contains anything useful within its maze-like structure. With money driving Duren on and Adol seeking to recover more of his lost memories that appear scattered throughout the land, the pair agree to undertake this task.
Despite being placed in the middle of a fairly long running franchise, those stepping into the Ys series for the first time don’t really need to worry too much about whether or not they will miss out on content, primarily thanks to Adol’s amnesia. There are a number of references that may fly over a new players’ head but these come few and far between. It is a bit unfortunate however, especially after returning these years later, that the overarching storyline that eventually takes place over the course of Ys: Memories of Celceta is a bit too generic for its own good.
Thankfully the characters that Adol meets and those that join his party happen to make up for this at least a little bit. While initially they may seem a bit one note, these characters all have their own unique personalities and help avoid a number of tropes that JRPG fans have grown familiar with. Watching these characters, a few of which already knew Adol prior to his amnesia, grow and interact with one another remains a highlight throughout the story even in this remaster. It also is nice to note that, while it rarely makes any notable difference, players can often select from a pair of dialogue choices for Adol that can elicit some humorous responses from his party and others.
In many ways Ys: Memories of Celceta‘s release on the PlayStation 4 feels more like a simple upgrade than anything else and this is especially felt when it comes to how the game controls. Whereas the Vita’s slightly limited button scheme required the use of both the front touchscreen and rear touchpad to access some menus and features, players now have easy access to these menus in mid-combat thanks to the PlayStation 4’s controller. The game’s combat remains the same as a whole, with players being able to use basic attacks to fill up SP, use SP with the R1 and a face button to use a skill, and then finally deal out a special attack using once a certain gauge fills up all while trying to block or dodge incoming attacks from enemies.
Enemies each have their own unique strengths and weaknesses and players will need to keep an eye out for these as some foes will be strong against a certain allies attacks, meaning they will do less damage, and players will need to swap characters on the fly to deal out the proper amount of damage. This fast paced combat and the ability to fight with up to three characters at a time keeps even normal battles feeling exciting and this is only increased whenever a boss battle happens.
Fights against bosses continue to be a highlight and thanks to Ys: Memories of Celceta being released on the PlayStation 4, one of the bigger worries about the original PS Vita release is no longer an issue. This issue happened to be drops in performance that either would leave the player open to attack or just chug the game to a rather rough degree. Now this release runs at a consistently high pace and even the most intense battles flow with ease, though always be sure to stock up on healing items as this game isn’t prepared to take things easy on the unprepared.
Visuals & Audio
While the PlayStation Vita was a powerful little handheld, it also released over eight years ago and Ys: Memories of Celceta came out only a year after handheld arrived on shelves and this is something that shows here on this enhanced release of the game. While the developers have done their best to improve the models for most of the characters, with the party members seeing a solid improvement over their Vita counterparts, many enemy types and far too many of the standard NPCs appear incredibly rough looking now that they are being presented on a full television compared to a handheld screen. It also isn’t great that, while players can control still zoom the camera in and out a bit using the right analog stick, not does it remain mostly stationary but this same stick dictates how your ally AI acts in combat, often causing players to have to double-check their set-up before entering a difficult fight.
Thankfully one thing that has held up with age has been the incredible soundtrack that accompanied the original release. The game is filled with different pieces of background music that rarely grow old and the boss themes are absolutely outstanding to listen to during intense fights. As far as the voice work is concerned, this release features both the original Japanese voice track as well as the English voice work but neither version really features a fully voiced game. What is presented sounds nice enough but most of the time only some of a character’s dialogue is actually voiced and often most dialogue is simply presented with no voice work at all.
Originally when it was released Ys: Memories of Celceta was an amazing handheld RPG that felt great for taking on the go but now seven years later, things have changed a bit with this PlayStation 4 release. The game continues to feature its fairly standard storyline filled with great characters but the transition to the PlayStation 4 has seen only a slight bump in graphical quality while eliminating previous technical issues. This does make the game play far better than before and gives those who may have missed out on the handheld release a new chance to see what the Ys series has to offer, especially since the fluid combat system remains as intense as ever, but don’t expect anything new in this version of the game.