Platforms: PlayStation Vita
Publisher: NIS America Developer: Nihon Falcom Corporation
Genre: Action RPG Platform Played: PlayStation Vita
Amnesia has been a standard method for story telling for decades. It allows the player to experience new pieces of information alongside our protagonist forming a stronger bond, and leaving a sense of mystery and intrigue.
Ys: Memories of Celceta is one of the latest titles to use this aspect, which is one of the central motifs throughout the 20+ hour experience. Players take control of adventurer, Adol Christian, who has mysteriously lost his recent memory, leaving him with many questions. After a small introduction, Adol is tasked with exploring the Great Forest, a section of land that has seen many adventurers never return. Due to this fact, the forest has never been mapped out and this becomes the main task for Adol. As he explores the vastness of the Great Forest, it becomes clear that there is a grand scheme in the works and Adol is the only one able to stop it.
Celceta’s plot feels very much like a paint by the numbers experience, as we encounter many aspects that most role-playing adventures have already explored many times over, such as battling an ancient evil, the introduction of a god, and finding new civilisations. Exploring the Great Forest does allow for great variety in environments, which range from mountain landscapes, open fields, dark caves and more. The narrative also takes a long time to set up the main plot points of the journey. Over half way through it was finally clear what the main motivation for Adol to continue his adventure was. Then, not too long after, the credits start to roll. The lack of characterisation for our antagonist left a somewhat empty villain, who’s motivations are left barely explained.
Celceta tries to give as much knowledge on the events taking place through text. These sequences take upwards of 15 minutes at a time, most of which lack voice acting of any kind. This is problematic because the lack of voice work left me feeling uninterested in the side characters along the way. Though games have provided characters without a voice previously, Celceta struggled to make these characters memorable and their plights fascinating without it. These text scenes are also frequently used and it constantly stops the player from investing in the most enjoyable feature Celceta has to offer.
Encountering enemies throughout the Great Forest introduces Celceta’s fast-paced action oriented combat. Those who have played titles such as DmC, Darksiders or even God of War will feel right at home, with the constant stream of enemies as you venture through the world. Unlike some RPG’s that stop the action to introduce random battles, Celceta steps away and allows the player to constantly progress by defeating a plethora of enemies. Controlling Adol and company feels fluid, responsive and most importantly, fun.
The addictive combat is enriched by the members of your party as each possess their own unique moveset and specialty. Each individual specialises in a certain weapon type, for example Duren will focus on using his fists in battles, whereas Karna will use her throwing knives to attack from a distance and so forth. These members can be quickly switched throughout battles, or you can focus on one individual if you please and still progress.
Celceta’s combat is very accessible at lower difficulties, which will see players succeeding fairly easily by simply button mashing. Yet the depth of combat is truly explored in higher difficulties and during the many boss encounters through the adventure. Succeeding in these boss encounters will depend on how well you utilise the timing of guards and your dodging abilities which, when mastered can be a lethal damage dealing display. These boss encounters have a sense of grandeur, making each one feel memorable in their own right. Coupled with the brilliant variety in boss design and the variety in the enemies encountered throughout the various locations, there is indeed a plethora of different enemies to cut down to size.
Each member of your party is able to be customised, from the weapons they hold, the armour they wear, and the skills they possess. Killing enemies in Celceta will see new items obtained, which can then be taken to merchants who can then refine and use them to upgrade your arsenal of weapons and armour. It is an interesting concept, that allows you to enhance your weapons with certain elemental abilities. Perhaps you will enhance your sword with ice capabilities in order to freeze your enemy in place? Or maybe poison to have lasting effects to enemies while you fight? Or even extra fire damage. These abilities can change the tide of a battle and keeps each encounter fresh. These enhancements incentivised combat, since I never knew what items certain enemies would drop, killing new varieties meant I may have a chance to find stronger upgrades.
Aside from the main quest, Celceta also allows players to complete a series of side quests which can be found on bulletin boards in each town. Side quests are not found throughout exploration, which was disappointing. The lack of side quests found in the wild meant that the encouragement to explore every piece of Celceta’s vast landscape was hindered. Not only that, but the side quests on offer are bland and mundane. These quests mostly consist of the typical collecathon, or have you hunting down a mini-boss to defeat. The lack of interest and motivation for these side objectives did little to incentivise experiencing these short quests.
Memories of Celceta’s varied environments also have their own unique musical score, with a vast majority providing a whimsical and adventurous sound. The soundtrack continued to impress throughout my time with Celceta, which added a sense of intensity to some of the more important battles. An impressive score can indeed make an experience more enjoyable, which is exactly what Celceta provides.
Visually, Celceta is one of the weaker PlayStation Vita titles I have encountered. After previously experiencing a variety of titles on the system, it is a shame Celceta wasn’t able to rival these visuals. There are times in which we are given a lengthy look at our characters, for example the excessive amount of text during conversations, where we are shown the poor level of detail they possess. Celceta is a big experience and perhaps there was no way to improve the visual fidelity without sacrifice, but when the Vita has been pushed as being almost as powerful as a home console, it is disappointing to see the end result.
Aside from an uninteresting narrative that constantly halts your experience, there isn’t necessarily much wrong with Ys: Memories of Celceta. Celceta doesn’t do anything to stand out from the crowd, although what it does provide doesn’t have many major issues, it has just been done better so many times before.
Though Celceta does offer some of the most addictive and satisfying fast-paced combat for Vita owners, the long text conversations constantly place a road block in front of the experience.
Ys: Memories of Celceta feels like a standard adventure, it provides everything you would come to expect from an action RPG, without delivering anything to make itself memorable among the vast array of RPG’s available.
- Characters feel unique in battle
- Impressive fast-paced combat
- Whimsical musical score
- Environment variety
- Uninteresting narrative
- Mundane side quests
- Long text encounters