Ys: The Oath in Felghana Review

So today, we’ll be talking about a game from a franchise that will have just finished celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Release Date: November 2, 2010 (PSP) March 19, 2012 (PC/Steam)
Action RPG
ESRB Rating: T for Teen – Blood, Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes
Platform: PC (Steam), PSP
Developer: Nihon Falcom Corporation
Publisher: XSEED Games

Background Information

Ys: The Oath in Felghana is in fact a remake of a game from 1989, Ys III: Wanderers from Ys, which was released on numerous consoles at the time as the third installment of Falcom’s acclaimed Ys franchise. It was originally released on the PC in Japan in 2005 before getting ported to the PSP in 2010. The PC version of the game was originally fantranslated and distributed by a group on the internet before XSEED Games announced a partnership with Falcom, and bought the fantranslation for commercial use. Since then Ys: The Oath in Felghana, along with other Ys games, have been published in English on various platforms.

Plot Overview

Three years after their first adventure in Ys I&II, the silent protagonist, Adol Christin, and his friend Dogi decide to head to Dogi’s hometown of Redmont. However, upon nearing the town they discover a beautiful woman beset by monsters, a woman who turns out to be Dogi’s childhood friend, Elena. After rescuing her, you head to the town together and spend the night at Dogi’s house. In the morning, Dogi heads off to visit his old instructor leaving you to explore the town and talk to its inhabitants. From them Adol discovers the harsh conditions the townspeople live under due to the constantly rising taxes, and the recent closure of their main source of income, the Tigray Quarry which contains precious Raval Ore, by the hand of the land’s ruler, Count McGuire. Suddenly, a messenger shows up with new of the Mayor and other townspeople having been attacked by vicious monsters and they are now trapped in Tigray Quarry. With no other able-bodied individuals in sight, our silent protagonist, Adol, must take up the task of rescuing them, and in doing so he will tread down a path that will give place him at the center of all the recent mysterious occurrences in the land.

It’s not a very complex or unique plot, but the cool characters and brevity of story heavy moments in the game are enough to make it passable. The developers clearly knew beforehand that they didn’t want the story to be the focus and as such aside from the introduction no plot related dialogue or scenes ever comes off as too long or overstay their welcome.

The woes of being a silent protagonist.


The gameplay is the second best aspect of the title. It’s one of the things the series as a whole is known for always doing well with. You play from a three-fourths overhead view and control Adol, who moves around rather fast and attacks just as quickly with his sword. He also gains access to three different spells that are used for combat, to traverse areas, and unlock secrets. Defeating enemies gets you experience, gold, and item drops. How much of each and the rarity of their occurrence depends on which of the five difficulties the player chose at the start of the game. The items provide temporary buffs for Adol in various ways, ranging from an increase in MP regeneration speed to added strength, and healing herbs dropped by enemies are the only way to heal other than leveling up or touching a save point. The different difficulties also make enemies stronger, and provide bosses with new attacks and changing patterns, which lends to the game’s replayability, as the experience will differ each time you turn up the difficulty, and your skills should also have sharpened due to experience with the prior ones.

The game is rather difficult, and the combat may seem basic, but those never seem to be a fault of the game. Every difficulty other than very easy is challenging in its own way, and combat, particularly against the game’s many bosses, is fulfilling in that the controls are very tight and victory is all dependent on the player’s own skills. (Though as an RPG, having the right equipment and being at a proper level is also important) The bosses are truly the best part of the gameplay, and they’re what make the combat as great as it is. They’re all rather difficult, without being so hard as to be frustrating, and beating the bosses is all dependent on the player learning their patterns, finding out how to perfectly dodge their attacks, and find weak points or intervals in which to get in attacks of your own. The new patterns and attacks on each difficulty add to this enjoyability even more, as the player can put all the knowledge they’ve gained in the lower difficulties to use, while also learning completely new things and being genuinely challenged by the boss, so that the fights do not ever grow easy or stale.

As such, the gameplay is something that embraces a rather simplistic style, but does so in such a fast paced, skill based manner that keeps it from feeling easy or boring.

Gildias is one of the “cooler” bosses in the game.

Additional Elements

The graphics in the game, while not the best out there, are rather enchanting due to the gorgeous sprite work done for characters and enemies. In general, the environments are nothing too grand, but the variety between them and the speed at which the game carries you through many areas makes up for it. One should never feel that they have spent too long in an area, or that the environments seem bland and repetitive, as the game progresses in a speedy manner and the environments are rather colorful and vibrant.

Earlier I stated that the gameplay was the second best aspect of the title, and that is definitely true. The best part of the game is undoubtedly the music that plays throughout. I could go on for days about how amazing the soundtrack is, how each track is well placed and directed in scenes and areas, or just how much this direction greatly improves the gameplay as well as every other aspect of the game, but in the interest of brevity I won’t. Simply put, the soundtrack of Ys: The Oath in Felghana is superb, and you would be hard pressed to find any other examples in video games that reach the heights it does with it various tracks. Any and all fans of music in video games owe it to themselves to give the game a try in order to see how well used each and every track is, and how it is a crucial part of the game as a whole. If there was ever a perfect example to show individuals who deride the importance of music in video games this would be it. The soundtrack is at such a high level that most other pale in comparison, and everyone should take the chance to experience them in game.

Take this as a sample of one of the better tracks in the game:

On its own it’s definitely a marvel, but when one experiences how and where they placed it throughout the game, and sees the impact it has on the events unfolding it truly reaches a new height.

Final Thoughts

Ys: The Oath in Felghana is a game that everyone should experience at least once. Its difficulty may be off putting to some, but it is that exact difficulty, and the sense of accomplishment that accompanies successful combat in the game, that makes the gameplay so great. The varying degrees of difficulty and how they each change combat is also a great feature, as the player can put the skills they have cultivated to use, while not losing a sense of challenge and learning brand new skills at the same time. The graphics are rather beautiful, and the fast paced nature of the game and its combat move you through areas in such a way that no one should ever get sick of, or bored by any of the various colorful, vibrant areas throughout the game. Finally, the soundtrack is pretty much the best you will ever find in video games, and the way in which they’re utilized in game only serve to further enhance and already amazing soundtrack.

NOTE: The PC version is better than the PSP version in every way, and you can even hook up a controller and play with that if you want. Don’t play the PSP version unless you really want to play it on the go.


Posted by DxS under PC, PSP, Video Game Reviews | Permalink

21 Responses to “Ys: The Oath in Felghana Review”

  1. brainchild says:

    Fuck you for using decimals.

    Fun Fact: DxS asked if he could give Oath in Felghana a 9.7. What are we, IGN?

  2. Tzu says:

    What a nice new years surprise. I truly think that Ys never got the chance to shine outside of japan despite been a great game series. Felgana has a unique combat system that in it’s simplicity is truly one of the best I have experienced. I agree with your score and I too recommend this game to virtually anyone since the story is simple yet fulfilling.

  3. `Tyson says:

    I just started playing this a couple of days ago. Definitely a solid game from what little of it I’ve played. Glad to see it getting some love here, too.

  4. lol says:

    Played it back when it came out for PC. It really does represent the gameplay from the time it was originally released – late 80s and early 90s. It reminded me of the original Renegade for ZX spectrum in terms of gameplay.

    Vast majority of combat is pure button mashing through hordes of dungeon trash that drops like flies. Then come bosses that require continuous repetition of the same action ad nauseam. Once you figure out the exact combo needed to fight the boss, you have to spend about 5 minutes just doing that combo until needlessly huge health pool of the boss is finally depleted. It’s literally some of the most mind numbingly boring combat you could ever imagine and a straight take from the games of that time period. Back then they had to make bosses play like that due to significant memory constraints on the systems which prevented complex boss mechanics in most fighting games.

    If you’re fan of this exact genre (actiony fighting games from late 80s and early 90s), you’ll rate this game highly. Otherwise, about the only reason to play this game is to be reminded just how far action fighting games have come since the 90s. The game is just that terrible by modern standards. And no, I don’t mean difficulty, as the game is quite easy once you get the combo on bosses and trash is something you could literally cut through while eating something with one hand. Personally I got bored after I killed the third boss, or specifically spent hours dying because I couldn’t keep doing the same damn dodge the blast then counter for about five minutes straight flawlessly. Slip once and you pretty much die.

    Granted I was playing on harder difficulty after I found trash to be excruciatingly boring otherwise.

    It’s a game for a very limited audience, and 9.5 here has about 5-6 points of “fanboy padding”. For general audience, even one with inclination to like anime, there are much better action fighting games with far better gameplay (I personally recommend Oni, which while being a game from 2001 has far better graphics and far better gameplay).

    • brainchild says:

      This nigga knows what’s up.

    • fandango says:

      Yes, because a game is all about pulling one stunt off one time only, right? Fuck me, if I have to repeat said stunt to kill the boss. In basketball I have to shoot one time only from the 3 point line to win the game. In Metal Gear, I shoot my pistol once, and bam, the boss is dead. This doesn’t even apply to just about every game out there, right? Jeez, complainers are gonna complain. You didn’t like the game? Fine, but the arguments you used and the fact that you used “fanboy padding” as a way to attack the score, just show that you’re a “hater”.

      On a side note, it’s a shame Falcom isn’t getting the love it deserves internationally. Sucks that the Trails saga probably isn’t going to be translated past FC.

      • lol says:

        Your comparison reinforces my point. MG and MGX2 were games from the same time period with same constraints. Heck, I still remember silly stuff like selecting mines, putting my attack button on max turbo on my controller and just instakilling last boss with it in MGX2 on my old nintendo console. It was still some of the best gameplay that games of that time period could deliver.

        Those were the problems of that time. They’re long solved now, and my problem with this game is not that it’s bad for fans of such gameplay, but that it got near-perfect score while being a game that is made for a very limited audience with very specific tastes. I even list a game from 10 years after that period (that was released over a decade ago) which does this kind of gameplay MUCH better.

        Notably most players nowadays likely wouldn’t enjoy old metal gear games very much considering the options currently available to play now, and they likely won’t enjoy this game all that much either.

        • fandango says:

          I now see your point, you’ve made it much more clear. On one hand, you’re right when you say the score is too high, from a general point of view. It is not a game that appeals to the masses. On the other hand though, I believe this was a review made with the niche in mind. If you put it this way, I don’t think the score is inadequate.

          Scores aside, truthfully, this might be a matter of taste, more than anything (I know, poor excuse). I tire of these new games and their “freedom”. Ys is definitely a simpler game, with simpler mechanics, but I find it way more fun. I find it a rather polished game, that doesn’t overreach and I think you’re underestimating it a little bit (cannon fodder can whoop your ass if you’re not careful, and the boss patterns aren’t that simple imo… if you add too much complexity, you’ll have to make it easier somewhere along the way, which is what happens mostly in today’s games). I see your point when you say it seems dated, because this is, after all, a remake of a much older game. The thing is, they improved everything about it and made it fun according to today’s standards – if you consider it was not meant to be anything more than it really is. I fail to see the early 90’s syndrome in Ys. The way you put it, I don’t find it solved at all. Oni also has its limitations… I can see it in every other recent game too – the eyecandy just distracts you from it (more variety of fancy movements, sweet physics, “freedom”).

          Though I disagree, I respect your point now. I might have been overly aggressive in the first post so, I apologize. I just wanted to try to prove that simpler might not always be worse. Especially when there is a special effort to assure this is true (polished game/gameplay, great soundtrack, and other details), which is what I believe Falcom tries to do.

          (Please excuse the long post and any weird phrashing, since i’m not a native english speaker.)

  5. a random fan says:

    This game is cool; I really liked it!

  6. Zeta says:

    A game with solid gameplay and one of the best OSTs ever to be composed.

    *Sees 9.5/10*

    … seems legit =D

  7. Moogy says:

    Felghana is a great game, but DxS is a terrible reviewer. D-, see me after school.

    Anyone who likes cool games with actual gameplay and music (i.e., not the sort of games that are popular nowadays) would do well to play this, especially since it’s quite cheap on Steam nowadays for you gaijin fags.

  8. Edale says:

    For hardcore fans of the Ys games, you’ll remember the first iteration of Ys Book III: Wanderers from Ys, and the sore disappointment the game was. From the richness of gameplay that Ys Book I & II brought reduced to a … poorly done side-scroller. Even the makers of Ys tended to ignore it’s existence at times.

    Thankfully, the makers of Ys: Oath if Falghana managed to take the failure of a game, and while keeping the storyline, plot, characters, and such relatively unchanged managed to create a game worthy of the Ys series.

    The music of ALL the Ys games is epic. For those that think Oath’s soundtrack is good, check out the soundtrack of the Turbografix CD’s release of Ys: Book I & II by the FDK Band, they still do concerts of their music from that game in Japan.

  9. wanzer says:

    Hold the fuck up, Xseed “bought” the fan translation?

    I thought companies HATED fan subs with an undying passion. Yet, here we have Xseed GIVING them money for it?

    Are pigs flying or something?

    • herkz says:

      are you new

    • Min says:

      XSEED is a pretty tiny company, only 9 full-time employees — and one of their translators was a fan translator in the Ys community before he started working there. So they’ve got pretty good relations with their fans. They’ve bought fan translations for other games, too.

  10. Marche says:

    It’s a great game in both forms, but I don’t get how the PC version is better than the PSP version. The only differences between the two are that the PSP version has voice acting and the PC version has achievements. The controls are still good on the PSP version, and I think you can even hook a controller up to that one if you’re into doing fancy stuff like that.