Six years ago, I decided to play the very first Ys game, which I have through the Ys I & II Chronicles+ collection on Steam.
Then I got stuck on a boss fight, so stuck that I quit the game and never returned.
…Until this year, when I decided to finally restart Ys I and play it through to the end this time.
Ys I is an old game, and one of the most unusual things about it is its combat system. The “bump” combat system is a form of action combat where instead of swinging your sword or anything like that, you attack enemies by… bumping into them. Hitting them straight on lets them damage you as well, so you want to hit them off-center to safely deal damage.
It’s a strange system, but it’s fun once you get used to it. Boss fights are a little different, where it becomes more a challenge of getting close enough to bump the boss without taking damage.
(Oh, you also bump into NPCs to talk to them, too.)
You play as Adol Christin, a swordsman who tries sailing through the wall of storms that surrounds the land of Esteria and gets shipwrecked there, after which he decides to investigate what’s going on and why monsters have filled Esteria. Now, for as much as people describe Ys as being more focused on gameplay over story (especially compared to Falcom’s other big series, Trails), there’s a surprising amount of interesting lore, frequent new dialogue from NPCs, and even a journal with descriptions of every single character you talk to.
So I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying the story and lore. It’s straightforward, but it’s also a fairly short, old game.
What I didn’t care much for was the “what if we make everything a maze?” approach to dungeon design, as well as the boss fights. Aside from the dreaded boss that stopped my playthrough six years ago, the final boss was so annoying that I might have given up again if I wasn’t almost at the end.
Anyway, I’m happy I finally returned to Ys I after all this time, and since I’ve been assured Ys II has better boss fights, I’m looking forward to playing that as my next Ys game.---
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