Ys – Memories of Celceta review (PS4)

Almost two years after the PC launch on Steam, Ys: Memories of Celceta is now coming out for the PlayStation 4 – the first chance that console users have to play it on the big screen as the original release wasn’t compatible with PlayStation TV units either.

Memories of Celceta originally launched as an exclusive for the PlayStation Vita back in the early days of Sony’s handheld. It’s still one of the best action RPGs you can pick up for the Vita even all these years later, and it was one of my first purchases when I bought a Vita as well. It was later followed by Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, and even though that launched simultaneously on the PS4 Memories of Celceta still eluded the console. Now, Nihon Falcom’s classic Vita adventure is finally available for non-handheld Sony gamers as well.

The story is still the same, but if you never played the Vita version then a quick summary is in order. Waking up in the land of Celceta, you play as Adol Christin, a hero who has lost his memory when he wakes up in unfamiliar surroundings. Searching for clues that might unlock fragments of your memory, you run into a thief who claims he knows you and who you end up partnering up with. Together, you start exploring the great forest of Celceta in order to create a map for it – running into more and more people who claim you’re familiar along the way. Because you don’t recognize them, you don’t know who to trust, which creates an interesting dynamic as your party of adventurers grows.

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As your party expands, the group-based mechanics of combat become more and more interesting. What can initially feel like a bit of a button-masher eventually turns into a mix of combat styles where you dynamically swap between characters to make use of their ranged or melee attacks. Over the course of the 20+ hour adventure you can also unlock new weapons and upgrade your stats, and combining all that available equipment and character styles made sure I never felt bored even though the campaign is a lengthy one. That estimate of 20 hours is a fairly ambitious one, assuming you stick to the main objectives and don’t spend a lot of time taking on side quests and looking for additional loot – if you do, you can spend close to twice that amount of time exploring Celceta.

Although there’s a general plot, many of the quests in Memories of Celceta are there as self-contained missions that each help you retrieve a part of your memory. There are also plenty of optional side missions, including a few that are time-sensitive and create a sense of urgency as well as opportunities to gather a nice amount of extra cash for you to spend on upgrades. In addition to those, you can also come across special artifacts that you can equip to unlock special abilities that allow you to gain access to areas that otherwise remain out of reach.

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Of course, all of that was also in the Vita version, so if anything this new PS4 edition reminded me of how impressive a game that was for Sony’s handheld. This new version for the PlayStation 4 features a visual upgrade that boosts the resolution and frame rate, but the Vita foundations still shine through in the camera department. Although areas are realized in 3D, you can’t freely look around and position the camera however you see fit. Instead, the right thumbstick merely serves to zoom in and out of the action – giving the game a bit of a dated feel despite the visual upgrade.

Still, if you’ve never played Ys: Memories of Celceta before then this is a great chance to pick up a title you might have missed out on if you weren’t a Vita owner.

Score: 7.6/10

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