Maybe the reason I never got bored was because Ys Seven moves so quickly. Adol barely has time to catch his breath before he's off to tackle a new dungeon and battle another boss. Every time I sat down with the game I felt like I made progress, even if I only played it for a few minutes. That's not something I can say about Final Fantasy XIII. Best of all, the game is practically free of loading screens.
As I played through this lengthy adventure, I found myself more and more excited about the little things. Sure I've seen many of these beats before, but this sequel is handled so masterfully that I hardly noticed the overused adventure game trappings. I love that the moment I got sick of walking around the gigantic map the game gave me a way to warp from area to area. I love that I never have to guess which weapon is best. I love that I can save anywhere at any time. I love how there are dozens of completely optional side-quests to complete. Every time I played this game I loved it more, which proves yet again that Falcom know what they're doing.
Of course, there are little things that made me not love Ys Seven. For one thing, the dialog is painfully slow and often too wordy. Like so many Japanese adventure games, Ys Seven doesn't know when to shut up. I often found myself wishing these characters would just get on with it. And in a mean design decision, Falcom has made it impossible to skip these conversations. Worse yet, the game requires players to keep pushing the button to advance the written text. If I could put the PSP down and come back to it when everybody is done talking that would be one thing, but the fact that I have to button mash my way through lengthy cinemas is unacceptable. This choice alone nearly dropped the score by a full letter grade.
Another problem is that Ys Seven isn't always clear on what players are supposed to be doing at any given moment. This is common with a lot of Japanese role-playing games, but it can be especially jarring when one goes from fast-paced gameplay to a complete standstill. The game starts Adol out with no clear goals or missions, so I spent my first hour merely wandering around an unknown city looking for something to do. While the game does try to point players in the right direction, the flag indicator on the map doesn't offer much help to those confused by the puzzle.
When I wasn't wandering around lost and confused, I was constantly being impressed by the game's strong visuals and fantastic soundtrack. Although it's treading on familiar territory, Ys Seven does have a strong style that manages to stay interesting from beginning to end. The game is at its best when the 21 bosses show up. Although there are a few small dragons to take down, I was blown away with the size of some of the later battles. There are a couple of boss fights that remind me of something straight out of the God of War series.
Even in a year marked by strong PSP adventure games, Ys Seven is one of the very best. From the game's speedy pacing to the epic boss fights, there's a lot to love about this sequel. It doesn't matter if this is your first trip to Ys or your seventh, Falcom's newest game is a near masterpiece. It has clearly been designed by people who not only love the adventure genre, but are veterans to their construction. With the exception of only one or two things, I have nothing bad to say about Ys Seven.
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* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Ys may not have the clout of a Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest game, but this seventh installment proves the series is as much fun as it ever was. Ys Seven is a great looking game that offers huge boss battles, fast-paced gameplay and a lengthy single-player experience. Sure it relies a bit too much on adventure game cliches, but that doesn't keep it from being a top-tier PSP game!
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