This PSP RPG is kicking it old school. Just be warned that the old school part includes the good with the bad.
Now I’ve had a fairly brief relationship with the Y’s series. My first exposure to the series was in reviewing Y’s Seven a few months back. I found it to be a really great game that harkened back to the days of RPGs past. I believe I called it a game that felt as if it were some lost gem from that era. Well, here comes Y’s: The Oath in Felghana and I get the exact same feeling. There’s a lot of gameplay differences, but it still evokes that feeling of falsified nostalgia. Then, to my surprise, I learned that the feeling wasn’t falsified. The Oath in Felghana is actually a remake of the third Y’s game, released way back in the early 90’s. Suddenly all the Tetris pieces fell into place. I suddenly understood the game’s strengths…and its weaknesses.
Oath in Felghana’s story is quite simple. This is understandable considering that it came from the era where stories consisting of, “So these four dudes go out to kill some monsters and save the world” were the norm. Adol and his buddy Dogi sail their boat into port in the country of Felghana. Felghana is Dogi’s old stomping grounds and he wants to catch up with some old friends. But, of course, monsters start attacking, old friends discover tragic hidden pasts, Adol has to collect four sacred thingys in order to stop the big bad from resurrecting and killing the world…yeah, we’ve all been here. One thing that has changed is that there is voice work for most of the dialogue found in the game. It’s great to hear characters like Dogi actually speak, and for the most part the voice work is pretty good. But when it’s bad…let’s just say that sometimes it gets really bad. Overall though I’m glad that there’s some acting to give character to these people. This game can use all the character it can get.
Just to let you know, this game is short. Again, this goes back to the era when it was made. In modern RPGs…okay, you know that spot where you accomplish what you’ve been doing the entire time only to find the plot turned completely on its head by some new revelation and you set off to stop an even bigger bad guy from doing the whole doom and gloom thing? Well, that doesn’t happen in this game. When it seems like the game is about to end…it does. There’s no giant turn things on their head moment. Sure, there’s some plot twists, but those all lead up to where you are going from the very first moment of the game. As such, the game is much shorter than modern players might be used to.
Another thing that might make this game go by faster than expected is the game play. It’s much more action oriented than Y’s Seven. I didn’t expect to be cutting into monsters and racking up combos like Dante or Kratos. Much of the game play is charging into monsters and wailing on the X button until they explode into various things for you to collect. You also only control Adol in this game. Again, I have no other experience with the series besides Y’s Seven, so I don’t know if that’s normal for the series. It’s just a much quicker game, with only having to level one character and equip one character and keep one character from dying when charging into the fray.
Now one thing that might lengthen the game play time might be the difficulty. This game gets difficult for two reasons. The first is kind of a BS reason for difficulty. There is jumping in this game. There is three dimensional jumping in this game. With pits and spikes in the way. You might wonder why I’m complaining so much about the jumping. Well, the PSP screen is somewhat tiny. The little nub you use to control your character is somewhat easy to lose control over when trying to make several difficult jumps at once. And the perspective of the game is sometimes obscured by the smallness of the screen. In other words, jumping in this game is a pain in the ass. I’ve missed several jumps in this game that either send me into spikes or send me plummeting into an abyss to wind up in a monster infested area which forces me to fight back to where I missed the jump, only to miss that stupid jump again. I don’t know if I should blame this on the PSP or the game, as I feel that this aspect would be handled with no problem on a bigger screen which lets me see what I’m doing better.
Now the second big difficulty problem only really appears in the last two or so levels. These enemies get hard. They like to swarm. They will kick your ass. Unlike in most RPG’s, you don’t have any healing spells. Now you do have something to help you in the form of a little item which warps you to any save point you have already visited. Save points refill your health. The problem is that you now have to go through a gigantic dungeon with the same enemies back up ready to swarm you and make you run back to the save point again forcing you to do everything all freaking over again and again and again.
Now that problem might just be because I had to review it and I felt a gigantic clock ticking over my head, whispering in my ear, “Finish the game! Finish the game! You don’t have time to restart this dungeon again!” Still, I can’t help but feel that there should have been another few save points, at least in that last dungeon. This is a portable game. I should feel okay to play for a short period of time and still feel like I’ve accomplished something.
Now, do those problems prevent me from recommending this game? Not really, no. Like I’ve said before, this is old school gaming. It’s supposed to be hard. It will kick you in the balls. You will cry. The game will not care. And, in fairness, when the game isn’t kicking you in the balls it is genuinely charming and fully of fun characters and great graphics. Oh yes, and the music still kicks ass. I love the Y’s series sound track. So if you feel like going back in time and playing an RPG like your granddad used to, give this a shot.
Okay, maybe not granddad. But still, it was made in the early 90’s. That like 40 years ago.