Have you heard? Japanese developers are porting their games to PC! They’re showing up on Steam! It’s amazing! We’ve seen games such as Sega’s Vanquish that were originally constrained by the limits of their hardware find new life on the mighty personal computer. On the other hand, sometimes we’ve got games like today’s subject, Ys Seven, which ran just fine on their original hardware (the PSP) but said hardware has steadily become less common, making the game more difficult to play.
Now that Ys Seven is on Steam, pretty much anyone can play it – and they probably should, since it’s a solid entry in a classic series. Plus, there’s tons of Ys games and you definitely don’t wanna miss out.
Erstwhile adventurer and Ys protagonist Adol Christin and his sidekick Dogi are on yet another adventure, this time ending up in the land of Altago. Altago is known for its devotion to dragons, and the mighty lizards pervade pretty much everything in society, from religion to warfare. When the King offers the opportunity to explore the land while investigating some mysterious tremors, Adol and Dogi sign up, but they’ll soon discover that there’s more going on than just the odd quake here and there.
Ys Seven is part of the “modern” era of Ys, a more action-focused take on the series that began with 2003’s Ark of Napishtim. Combat is a fast paced hack-and-slash affair that’s all about quick dodges and nimble strikes; for much of the early game, healing is difficult to come by, so taking too much damage can be catastrophic and you’ll need to play smart. Everything has a really tactile feel that makes running around and beating bad guys up a joy. This even extends to how you get loot used to craft new gear by smacking the corpses of defeated foes a couple more times after the fact.
Seven mixes up the formula in two significant ways. For one, you’ll need to take into account enemies’ defenses against varying types of attack in order to prevail – Adol’s swords are effective against many beasts, for instance, but he’ll have trouble against heavily armored foes and you’ll want Dogi to punch the lights out of those guys. Each character specializes against particular types of enemies, and since you can use three people at once you’re encouraged to mix and match your party to deal with whatever you plan on fighting.
The other new twist here is the addition of Skills, special attacks imparted by the dragon-infused gear found on Altago. Characters can use the Skill attached to a weapon while it’s equipped, and consistent usage allows them to master it and use it with other weapons as well. SP spent to use Skills is rapidly regained during combat, so you’re encouraged to use them often which keeps the action feeling fresh.
Outside of combat you’ve got dungeons to explore, puzzles to solve and gear to craft, all of which are fairly standard for the genre. The quick pace at which everything occurs keeps the game feeling dynamic, though, even when you’re messing with one of the game’s (relatively simple) puzzles. As for crafting, it’s nothing out of the ordinary, but it does give you a reason to farm enemies and enjoy the combat just that tiny bit more without feeling too onerous.
This is an older game by modern standards, having originally been exclusive to the PlayStation Portable; this also means it was a fairly difficult game to play if you didn’t have access to one of those handhelds. With that in mind, it’s nice that it’s now available on Steam and nicer still that it runs as well as it does. The available graphical options aren’t incredibly extensive, but they don’t need to be; most modern systems can crank everything up as high as it’ll go to get a nice-looking game that runs beautifully and sounds great. Plug in your Xinput controller and you’re in for a treat.
Ys is a long-running series and that might throw off potential buyers, but Ys Seven is a perfectly accommodating experience that, outside of some references early in the game, is entirely approachable by newcomers. In particular, the enjoyable combat and addictive nature of gathering materials for crafting means that this is a solid action-RPG by any measure. Fans, of course, are likely to have already played this on PSP, but the newest revision is solid enough to merit a second run, and fans who never got a chance to try the PSP game should hop on board this train without question.