Continuing the trend of RPGs being ported to handheld devices, the NIS America published remake, Ys: Memories of Celceta, brings the reimaging of Ys IV from Falcom, in expansive RPG experience exclusive to the PS Vita. Memories of Celceta joins the main series protagonist, Adol Christin as he emerges from the Great Forest of Celceta, having developed amnesia during his travels, with no recollection of who he is or how we survived his journey in the first place. So, just like many JRPGs before it, you start of Memories of Celceta as an amnesiac trying to remember their past.
After returning to town and promptly collapsing from exhaustion, Adol meets Duren, helps to inform Adol about who he is, as well as explaining they were both good friends before his memory loss. As one of the few people around that ventured into the Great forest and returned safely (somewhat), Adol, along with Duren are soon tasked with going into the forest once more, to map the layout and land within for the governing army in their home town of Casnan. The pair agree to take on this task, so that they can also try to discover any information about where Adol went while he was in the forest and possibly recover some of his memory in the process.
As hinted in the title, you’ll be spending a great deal of the game in the Great Forest of Celceta, exploring every nook & cranny and looking for any clues to trigger Adol’s memory. While you journey deeper into the forest, your in game map fills in the areas you’ve discovered, building out the map as you go along and increasing the percentage of the forest that has been mapped successfully. As this percentage increases, you can return the map information to the governor at Casnan, who will reward you for each additional 10% of the forest you have mapped. Various mysterious blue orbs will also pop up at certain points in the forest, which Adol can interact with, triggering a short cutscene and restoring one of his lost memories. These memories usually relate to the recent events that have happened in the story, but some will feature snippets of Adol’s life long before travelling to Casnan or the Great Forest.
Every memory that you recover gives Adol a permanent stat boost, so collecting them all will make him stronger in battle, as well as giving you more backstory on the character. The memory fragments that aren’t directly tied into particular segments of the story progression can be found at your leisure as you explore, giving you incentive to uncover as much of the forest map as possible to find all the memories and achieve all of the available stat increases. Roaming around the large forest back and forth would be extremely tedious, if not for the warp points that you activate when you pass them at various intervals across the land mass. When warping is not an option however, I found that the standard movement speed was somewhat slow, which led me to eventually to dashing or rolling everywhere to move around quicker.
Just like other Ys games, Memories of Celecta is an action RPG, with battles taking place in real time against monsters that you encounter in the forest. Fighting is usually a case of approaching an enemy, then pressing the square button to perform a standard attack. gaining levels and experience in battle will give the characters special skills that can be mapped to the four face buttons and activated while holding down the Right trigger and pressing one of them. Most battles with standard enemies can be dealt with by spamming the attack button to build up SP, then using the skills to deal even more damage. An additional meter builds while you’re attacking, which gives you the ability to unleash a special attack combo to pummel the opposing monsters with a barrage of multiple, powered up hits to inflict as much damage as possible. Not a lot of thought or finesse is necessarily required for most enemy encounters and can generally be handled with normal attacks, unless you’re against a special monster or a boss. Most monsters are weak to a particular type of attack, so it’s important to pay attention when attacking with different characters to plan your best attacks to take them out easier.
Starting off with Adol & Duren, your group of courageous travellers gradually grows in number as you meet other characters during your journey, all having their own reasons for choosing to join the pair on their quest. The cast of characters you meet in the game vary wildly, with the more frequent characters having unique personalities you can see during their interactions with other characters. As the majority of the character dialog is unvoiced, several ’emote’ type icons can be seen to further illustrate a particular person’s expression or mood, or even how particular creatures might feel towards your presence when they’re approached.
The progression throughout the game’s story delves into the mysteries of the forest and Adol’s memory loss, while uncovering more information and simultaneously adding more questions to be solved. While the overarching storyline is supposed to be serious, the character interactions can swing from serious & straight-faced conversations, to lighthearted banter and quirky & humorous exchanges between the party and the NPCs, making the characters feel more alive and interesting to watch & play as. Occasionally, you’ll also be given a couple dialogue choices, which can also influence the response of the other characters, depending on whether you answer jokingly or seriously.
If you’re fairly comfortable with action RPGs, you could probably get through the game in about 20-30 hours, with extra difficulty levels available if you’re looking for more of a challenge. In terms of extra content to divert your attention from the main quest, you can look for hidden memories or item chests, do some grinding by fighting monsters or picking up additional quests in the various towns and villages you come across. At each one, there will be a few quests you can take on, but quite a few of these are simple fetch quests and may not do much in the way of providing an engaging side activity. At least some of the more unique ( better ) quests are more enjoyable, such as Adol becoming a shopkeeper for a day and you dealing with the flow of customers ready to purchase goods, giving you a few more interesting character interactions to pad out your experience.