Review: YS: Memories of Celceta (PlayStation Vita)
YS: Memories of Celceta: Member ReviewPlayStation Vita 1,195 view 2 likes 1 comment
- Release Date (NA): November 26, 2013
- Release Date (EU): February 21, 2014
- Release Date (JP): October 10, 2013
- Publisher: xSeed
- Developer: Falcom
- Genres: Action-RPG
- ESRB Rating: Teen
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
YS: Memories of Celceta is a third person action RPG published by xSeed and developed by Falcom. It is a re-imagining of the fourth installment of the series, so it's definitely the new Canon for those who care.
As a newb to the series, I had no idea what to expect from YS: Memories of Celceta. The most I'd ever played of a YS game was a few hours of the first one. The bump and hump battle mechanics were kinda tough to get used to and was a real turn off at the time. Now that I've finished Memories of Celceta, I may have to give the other games a shot.
Published by xSeed and developed by Falcom, Memories of Celceta marks the series' second entry into the real-time action genre and builds heavily from the seventh installment. No longer does Adol need to run into an enemy to damage them, instead you use skills and fine timing to attack, defend and dodge. Older fans might find this to be a turn off when compared to the old battle system, but I found it to be mostly seamless.
For the record, the YS games all follow a single protagonist. The flame haired enigma known as Adol Cristin is a bold adventurer of some renown who travels across the land which seems to mirror our world in terms of names and culture. Those of you new to the series might have some trouble with a lot of the in-jokes and side references, but as a whole, Memories of Celceta is a standalone game and is one of the must have titles for the Vita.
And first and foremost on this list is the gameplay, but to start my complaints early, I will say that the game took forever to even start. There's at least ten minutes of dialogue and video before you get to a point where you equip a weapon and go fight. Then at least twenty five more minutes of tutorials and dialogue before you even leave the first town. The game is suuuuper slow starting off. I've had the game for almost six months and I just now finished it thanks to repeatedly putting it down and picking it back up.
Like I said in the introduction, Memories of Celceta plays in real-time. As a third person action RPG, it does very well in hiding certain RPG flaws like grinding and menu camping. My biggest complaint is that there's very few complexities to the combat, but on the other hand it's also it's biggest strength.
Here's how a normal battle plays out: Press square to attack, cross to dodge in a direction, triangle to guard.
Three buttons is all that's necessary to fight if you're good. And if you get bored of pressing one button, you have a wide variety of skills at your disposal by pressing the right shoulder button and any of the shape buttons. The left shoulder button activates the super strong “extra skill”.
I've unlocked around eight skills for each character (excluding the extra skill which only has two for each character), but I'm not near the max level and I feel like there definitely more. Each character has skills which completely change how they play, so it's worth testing each one for preference.
For the advanced players seeking to up their game, if you time a dodge right before getting hit, you can slow down time and gain temporary invincibility. And if you guard in a similar manner, you can avoid damage altogether and gain a small attack boost. This makes the system as simple as possible, but also expands the possibilities by orders of magnitude.
Getting more complex...
The flaw here is that the perfect dodge and guard mechanics are easily the most over powered mechanics in any game I've seen. Some late-game bosses were cake even on hard mode (which I started on). Other than an honestly pitiful late-game, there's a steep learning curve that makes it tough to start as a beginner if you're not used to these types of games.
The system is simple and fresh, so it's a step in the right direction. Without the mechanics, the game would almost certainly be impossibly hard, so there's that.
You play as two characters initially, but eventually you'll get a party of six (with three in battle at any given time). With a simple press of the circle button, you can swap between party members and utilize the attacks that work best on the enemy you're fighting. There are three types of damage: striking, slashing and pierce. Each of these exploit weaknesses, and each character is aligned with one.
It's basic rock-paper-scissors. Most enemies are weak to a single type, others have no weakness. Soft targets like frogs and plants are weak to slashing damages, while harder ones like tough carapaces of shelled crabs or golems are weak to striking. Eventually you'll get used to swapping to the character who can exploit the weaknesses on the fly. You get increased experience and gold, so the mechanic is satisfying if just a little tedious.
Slash, bludgeon and pierce your way to victory!
The meat of the game is in the combat. Menu actions is limited to simple application of items, rearranging skills and party members as well as equipping weapons, armor and skills. This is one of the few RPG games where I spent a mere fraction of my time in menus and instead in a fight or transporting myself to another part of the game.
There is a comprehensive quest and crafting system. Mine or gather resources and reap the benefits by reinforcing or making entire new weapons and armor. Actually, the weapon reinforcing system reminds me a lot of Dark Cloud 2 where you enhance certain stats on the weapons themselves to make them more powerful. It's not as detailed or useful as DC2, but it adds that layer of involvement with your character's growth that makes a difference.
Another nice feature is the save system. You don't need to visit a portal or something equally as unnecessary, instead just open the menu and save. As a portable game, this is an often overlooked essential.
There's something for all types of players. Falcom has made sure to provide multiple difficulty levels along with a New Game+ and the series staple of Time Attack makes a return. I personally haven't done time attack, but New Game+ lets you keep all your character progression and items as you roll over into a new game. Aside from these tidbits, there is very little replay value beyond one more playthrough... but you'll get an average of 25 to 50 hours depending on how quick you are to run through the game.
In short, there's a lot about Memories of Celceta to be excited for if you're the kind of player who likes mastering mechanics on a rolling difficulty scale. If the steep early game difficulty/tedium doesn't bother you as well as a lack of replay value, then this might be the game you're looking for.
Story and Exploration
You play as Adol the Red (or in this game, just Adol Christin). After waking up in a strange town among strange people, Adol collapses from exhaustion. When he comes to he's met by a man claiming to know him, however Adol has lost his memories. Some things happen and you and the man are roped into helping out the townsfolk during a crisis. Thus begins your adventure.
Most of the back story and such is filled in as Adol remembers it. By touching a glowing orb on the overworld, or talking to certain people, Adol remembers things that happened to him. It's a pretty neat mechanic since seeking out these orbs actually increase your stats like some late-game items which are super expensive resource and gold-wise.
Memories of Celceta is one of the biggest YS games to date, if not THE biggest. The map is exceptionally large with all sorts of places to go and explore. There's several large towns along the way, and decent rewards that encourage you to explore the forest in its entirety.
The map is huge and fun to explore, but the dungeons do an even better job at being fresh and new. A lot of RPGs struggle to keep their dungeons fresh, but Memories of Celceta has that covered. It manages to keep each room and environment relatively new and unique, especially with the different puzzles and artifacts you get to explore the world. While I've visited each dungeon only a few times, none of them ever bored me too much, though as I mention below, they can be a bit dull during the longer ones.
The story was pretty decent with a few unforeseen twists to keep it interesting. I don't feel like there was any real problems to speak of, but a few of the events could have used some more explanation. Other than a few minor niggles, Memories of Celceta gets a good word from me on story telling.
Sometimes the map got a bit cluttered for my liking. It made it hard to ascertain quest goals and locations. Also mapping out the world got tough near the end as a lot of the obvious bits were gone. It turned into a slight guess and run routine.
Dungeons were sometimes tedious to explore. The first real dungeon actually felt the longest of them all to be honest, but it also happened to be the most varied in terms of environments. As you progress through the game you'll get access to artifacts that allow you to explore more areas. Things like the Gale Boots and Hydra Scales have a ton more uses outside of their respective dungeons, and you don't use them once and never touch them again, which is nice.
If you're the kind of player who plays RPGs for the story, Memories of Celceta should provide you with a great fix. In addition to the great story, you'll find there's a lot of discovery to be had... that is if the few problems with the map and game mechanics don't stop you.
I don't usually put a lot of stock in graphics, but for a game so reliant on exploration it matters a whole bunch in this case. Memories of Celceta really shines in the backgrounds and environments. You've got great lighting and beautiful scenery. Unfortunately where it starts to run afoul are in the 3D character models that are more reminiscent of the PSP's glory days.
While that really doesn't detract from the game a whole bunch like poor graphics all around, it does highlight a problem with many Vita games.
Other than that, the game has a very distinct anime aesthetic. If you're into anime, you're in for a treat as a lot of the character art and such is drawn with fans of the artform in mind.
One other mention. A lot of RPGs tend to recycle enemy models. Memories of Celceta doesn't do it very often, but when it does, they usually feel a lot different from their earlier counterparts. Big plus on this front.
Lastly, the game does have some graphical hiccups. They mostly occur in some of the more detailed scenery so it never affects you during a tense battle.
Not much to be said here really. I think it looks great for a portable game, but the 3D models don't look all that fetching. Plus a lot of people might not like the anime themed art, so it gets put in both sections.
Music and Voice Acting
This is where the game shines the most. Gameplay and Story is nice and all, but YS: Memories of Celceta features some of the best music I've heard in an RPG for a while. I can't rave enough about how good it is. If you're a game music buff, you owe it to yourself to play the game for the music alone.
Here's what you'll be expecting. A lot of the tracks are rock themed to keep the pace of the game. Most have some stringed instruments and electronic roots, but in the tracks that do have them, you'll really find yourself humming and playing with the music. It's absolutely phenomenal. If you're interested, I'll post some youtube links somewhere.
As far as music goes, I could suggest the game on that alone. But there's two categories here. The voice acting is nearly non-existent, but what is there is really good. Some characters get more love than others, but I've never loathed any of the cast.
Okay, so I don't think there's any cons here... that's a first. Aside from a few music tracks I don't like, this area is pretty subjective. Take it with a grain of salt.
YS: Memories of Celceta is not only a amazing entry into the YS series, it's also an amazing game all around. It's definitely one of the Vita's better titles, and I can only hope the next YS game is as stellar as this one.
I'd recommend playing a few other games in the series to get a feel for some inside jokes. After I read up on the previous titles, I learned that a lot of the references were lost on me. I feel like the fact I didn't play the other games cheapened the experience a little bit. But I don't feel like it was absolutely necessary.
+ Seamless and Satisfying Combat
+ Rewarding and Fresh Exploration
+ Exceptional Story
+ Very Few Recycled Enemies
+ Anime Themed Character Art
+ Stellar Music and Voice Acting
- Overpowered Game Mechanics
- Steep Learning Curve and Sloppy Late-game difficulty
- Questionable Replay Value
- Mechanics for Exploration gets Tedious Late-game
- Bleh 3D Models
- Anime Themed Art
YS: Memories of Celceta looks, plays and sounds goooooood (emphasis on the sounds part). Despite some minor graphical nitpicks and some personal dislikes on the music and tutorial side, the game is overwhelmingly well presented.
While not without it's flaws, the "Nice Timing" counter system works wonders with making the player feel like they're in control of the battle. It's a break from the usual YS modus operandi and older fans might be initially turned off by the system, but don't let it discourage you. The game has a ton to offer in terms of gameplay.
Eh, this one is suspect. While it does boast a decent run time, Memories of Celceta has very little in the way of post-game content. Its only saving grace is the New Game+ and Time Attack feature. Both might be enough warrant another playthrough, but I highly doubt I'll get much more out of it than that.
out of 10
(not an average)
Overall, I'd say this game is a very solid Action RPG that blows a lot of other games completely out of the water. It keeps the system deceptively simple and builds upon the player's experiences. I've been consistently wowed by the visuals and music and story. And it does have some replay value. YS: Memories of Celceta is definitely worth your time despite its flaws. If you're on the fence about it, I hope this review answers some of your questions.