Game Comment: "Ys – The Arc Of Napishtim" (PS2)

10 Oct

Ys – The Arc of Napishtim is an old-school action-RPG. You’re playing the red-haired swordsman Adol. The opening cut scene shows that Adol pursued by the Romun military forces. He has to flee on board of a pirate ship but the Romuns don’t give up and during a battle on sea, Adol is thrown into the water. He washes ashore on a beach and is found by creatures with long ears and a tail who are called Rehda.

Now the game starts. You’re on the Isle of Caanan which is surrounded by the Great Vortex, a great whirlpool that is impossible to cross. Apparently, you are stuck. So you know what you have to do: find a way to leave the island.

The gameplay is easy: one button for jumps, one button for attacks, one button for magic, and one button for using a preselected item. You go through dungeons, kill enemies, collect emels (for leveling up your swords) and level up your character. This may seem boring if you’re not the kind of gamer who likes to do this, but if you’re one of these, the game can become pretty addictive. It did for me. Also, there are some tactical elements: you can’t kill every enemy just by smashing the attack button. Now and then you have to figure out how to do it (best).

The boss battles have a tactical component, too. You have to figure out how you can hurt them and you have to learn their attack pattern. And sometimes you have to level up a bit before you’re able to take them on, otherwise you get your ass handed to you. It’s often amazing what one more level can do for you.

I liked the graphics and the voice acting (well, most of the time). Granted, the graphics are nothing to shout about compared to other PS2 games, but there is much attention to small details and a certain anime feeling to it. And the cutscenes, though few, are done nicely.

Small quibbles:

  • there is no (useful) map. In some dungeons this is just annoying. I even sketched one dungeon on paper for orientation (and still got lost a few times there)
  • sometimes there are tricky platform elements. You have to jump (mostly very far; read: every pixel counts) and you’re not able to adjust the camera to see better. Practically, you’re jumping blind. It’s frustrating to repeat the same jump over and over again and you just don’t know (because you can’t see it) why it didn’t work and you have to do it again without a clue what went wrong so you can change it for the next try.
  • the dash jump. Don’t get me started. I know, it belongs to the former point, but it’s really difficult to learn and combined with the former point … arrrgh. It deserves a separate listing.

Apart from these quibbles, I enjoyed Ys – The Arc of Napishtim a lot. Its easy gameplay (after all, there are only a few platform passages) makes it a fun and addictive game to play and the story, though standard RPG style, is narrated in an engaging way.

Did I enjoy playing this game? Yes.

Would I recommend this game? Yes, although I understand that not everyone (read “not-much-into-RPGs”) will like it as I did.

Grade: 4 / 5


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