Ys. The ideal utopia. Once a country so peaceful and prosperous. A country where children were as free as the wind. A country where harmony blew through the hearts of all men. How could such a land of promise simply vanish from the face of the planet? 700 years before Adol set out to unfold the mystery, the land of Ys got isolated from the rest of the world during a demon invasion. This is the story, of Ys Origin. From the moment I started this series of videos, I wanted to end it on this game in particular. Not only because it would be easier to cover the prequel after all the numbered entries, or because it would be a nice way to tie everything back together to the start of the series.But mostly because Ys Origin is a gigantic celebration of entries in the past. Something that hasn’t changed between its initial release and now. Origin is the third and final game to use the Ark of Napishtim engine, tying together gameplay elements of both titles previous in it and improving on them. It also takes us to the backstory of Ys Book 1 and 2, fleshing the events out further, and creating additional connections back to the Ark era of Ys lore. Ys Origin follows the events leading up to the complete isolation and downfall of the floating country of Ys. Not long before the game starts, the twin goddesses, Feena and Reah, have both disappeared from their shrine without telling anyone, including the Six Priests. A search party is established, consisting of four knights and four mages in the hopes of finding them again. While being teleported down to the main land, the group gets scattered before all making their way to the Darm Tower. From there, they all make their way up the monster infested tower in the hopes of finding the Godesses before anything happens to them.When you first start off the game, you get to pick between two main characters, Yunica Tovah and Hugo Fact. Both with family names that should be familiar to people who have played the first two games in the series. The characters play very differently from each other, and each have their own take on the story. Think of it like picking between Chris and Jill in the original Resident Evil. I’ll be taking a look at their gameplay and characters separately, but I won’t be spoiling their narrative arc. I’d rather that people are allowed to experience them for themselves. From the House of Tovah, Yunica is a head-strong, high energy young girl who has sworn to protect the Godesses as a little girl, before realizing the reality that her complete lack of magical aptitude would get in her way of fullfilling this childhood dream.Everyone in Ys had natural magical aptitude to some degree, and lacking that, Yunica always thought of herself as lesser than everyone else. Despite what she considers a major handicap, she made the cut to become an apprentice knight. And, despite the protests of her superiors, managed to force her way into the search party at the Darm Tower when the Twin Godesses disappeared, hoping that this would be the time to fullfil her promise to Reah and Feena. Charging head-first into danger without thinking of the consequences in the hopes her self-doubt wouldn’t catch up to her. The character arc where she internalizes her surroundings and reflects on her own abilities as well of those of others is some of the best writing the series has to offer. Yunica Tovah is without a doubt my favorite character not just in the Ys series, but in Falcom’s games in general. It’s astounding just how well her journey is handled. Yunica’s gameplay is somewhere between Adol in Ark of Napishtim and Oath in Felghana.While this might sound redundant, as the those games mostly played the same, there were a few big changes in how the character worked between the two titles, and in Origin a lot of the differences of the two games are put together and improved upon strongly. All the regular attacks you’d expect are there, with the normal attacks on the ground. The downwards stab, with the stun property when landing it just right. As well as a lunge attack that has a similar input to dash jumping from Ark. Surprisingly, having to press the direction you’re facing once, before attacking after a short delay, is not as infurating to do in combat as it is in platforming sections. Maybe it’s the lack of precision needed, with a less aggressive feeling of failure when you mess it up while attacking, because either way, you’re going to land an attack on an enemy.Compared to when jumping, you either fail to jump, or end up missing the jump when you finally do it. Your reward for pulling off a proper lunge attack is degrading the opponent’s defenses, so it’s something that’s worth messing around with, but not important to a degree that you absolutely have to use it. Boost mode from Oath in Felghana makes a return, giving you the extra power needed to clean up groups of enemies faster. It’s accompanied by the magic system from Ark of Napishtim, giving you a three weapon system, each with their own spell tied to it. Although this time, you get two weapons, as two spells are tied to Yunica’s axe, and the third to her father’s sword. You get the whirlwind blade attack and electric hammer for Yunica’s axe, functioning identically to the skills found in Oath. With the Whirlwind attack having Yunica spinning her axe around her, allowing her to float through the air and make bigger jumps. And the electric hammer dealing big damage and crushing walls. Like Dogi. Her third ability, tied to her oversized sword, allows you to fire projectiles. This time all three weapons have a shared MP pool, so you can’t charge up all three weapons for their big attack, as charging an attack is something you do by holding down the magic button after finding the upgrades, just like in Oath.The charged versions of attacks usually do the same thing, but better. The whirlwind blade has your attack stay around you for longer, while you’re still free to use the normal version or other attacks as the charged one lingers around you. The electric hammer impacts the ground so hard it shoots a projectile high into the air above you, which helps dealing with enemies in the air or certain bosses. And the fire projectiles become a gigantic phoenix of death, killing everything in the way. It’s worth noting that the regular attack swings of the sword are also much wider, longer, and slower than that of the axe to make up for the higher damage, and how much of an advantage its ability gives you, especially in boss fights.The buff potion system from Oath makes a return as well. Which helps keep the pace of the game up a lot. For anyone who hasn’t seen the Oath in Felghana review, the buff potion system has enemies dropping potions that temporarily boost your base stats upon picking them up. Giving you a better attack, defense, and magic regeneration for a long enough time to push forward to the next group of enemies that are likely to drop more potions so you can keep your buffs up if you keep up with the momentum of the game. Besides this, experience rates get boosted based on your combo, which isn’t dropped by taking hits, but rather time, with a similar meter like your potions, with the maximum amount effectively doubling your experience income.This experience boosting system has two direct results. If you have the need to grind enemies, killing monsters in rapid succession gives you more experience faster, giving you more of a reason to keep hammering at those bigger monsters because the experience rate will keep going up the more you hammer away at them. But enemies you’re overleveled for tend to die before you can get too many hits in, lowering the amount of bonus experience you’re able of getting from them in an effort to stop you from overleveling too much. This is besides the typical leveling system of Falcom games where stronger enemies give you more experience, while the ones you’re too strong for barely give you any. It’s not a perfect solution to speeding up and stopping grind, but it does get the job done better than most games do. From the House of Fact, Hugo is a magical prodigy, believing himself to be more sophisticated and smarter than everyone around him.When in reality, he’s a poor judge of character, stuck-up, and a straight-up an asshole to everyone surrounding him. When the Twin Godesses disappearer, he volunteered to join the search party. Not because he gives a damn about the godesses or their well-being, but because his father gave him the orders to find and kill someone who was spotted on the island below. His arrogance didn’t come out of nowhere, as there are a lot of issues that never got worked out within the Fact family. And it’s not even that Hugo hates everyone surrounding him, it’s that the way he was raised never permitted him a life where he could develop normal relationships with other people. His character arc is really interesting, because in a lot of ways it’s the exact opposite of Yunica’s. Not only does he overestimate his own abilities greatly, he lusts for even more power, driving everyone near him away for the sake of obtaining it. Generally a story arc like this is reserved for rival characters who end up driving themselves mad with their quest for power while everyone ends up excusing them near the end, but Hugo is repeatedly pointed towards his problems whenever he crosses the line.And boy, does he ever cross the line. Hugo’s gameplay is what I’d describe as Ys Book 2, but modernized. Instead of having close range attacks, he’s got a magical staff and the Eyes of Fact, the two satellites hovering besides him, which makes his gameplay feel more like a weird topdown shooter than anything. To offset how overpowered it is for a character to consistently attack outside of the enemy’s range, shooting locks him to the ground, adding a small delay to jumping which makes it harder to dodge incoming attacks. His version of the lunge attack, the powershot, has a longer range, making it easy to safely get in multiple defense debuff hits in on enemies before they can come close enough to damage you. He takes more damage and has less health than Yunica, but his gameplay is still a lot easier in general. When activating Boost Mode, Hugo gains two additional satelites that help you mow down enemies even faster. Which, when put next to his magic abilities, renders most enemies and some bosses almost entirely trivial. Hugo’s whirlwind attack is a shield that blocks one incoming hit, or multiple when charged up.As long as the shield is intact, your falling speed decreases, allowing you to float through the air. It also grants him the power of Bump Combat. The hammer is replaced with remote mines, which when charged up ends up killing most enemies in the game in one hit, even when underleveled. It’s so useful that I pretty much exclusively used it to attack for most of the game because the short time it takes to recharge after placing a fully charged one is so short you can continuously keep placing them one after another. After placing a charge one, pressing the button to place another instantly detonates it, so it’s not even hard to get enemies caught in the blast. Most bosses don’t really stand much of a chance against it either. His third skill make the two Eyes of Fact rotate around him while dealing fire damage, and when charged, it fires one big laser beam. It’s alright, but outside of a few minor cases during boss fights, it’s not as useful as the mines or shield. At two points I nearly fell asleep playing him. Just like I didn’t like the focus on projectile combat in Ys 2, I’m not the biggest fan of Hugo’s gameplay in Ys Origin.I wouldn’t go so far as to call it bad, the base mechanics at play in Ys Origin are solid enough that even the least interesting character can still be miles ahead of most other Action RPGs. So it does balance out in a way. Though his story is actually really good and completely worth going through his gameplay for. As a general recommendation, I’d say go through his story when replaying the game instead of opening with him. Seeing the other perspective on events, and how differently he interacts with everyone, is very interesting. Something that always stands out to me about Ys Origin is that how despite the entire game takes place in a single tower, the game never feels like you’re stuck in the same place the entire time. Every floor is not just visually distinct from each other. But you really feel like you’re going through varied environments in general. The visual presentation, music, and design choices for the areas are all so distinct that the game feels like it has more environmental variety than most games that have entire cities to explore. The rate at which you keep getting weapon upgrades, new abilities, and encounter new enemy types and obstacles all help keep things fresh the entire game long.Which isn’t to say the game is all that long, but even across multiple playthroughs the game still keeps feeling varied due to how distinct the playstyles between the characters are. What’s also nice is that, like other Ys titles, you can quick travel between save points at pretty much any time in the game that isn’t a boss fight, and there’s quite a few locations you can warp to this time around. That’s not the only thing you can do at save points either.Ys Origin has an SP system where enemies drop tiny purple crystal upon killing them that you can collect to purchase special upgrades at save points with. Every armor tier has an upgrade you can give it to increase its defensive value, just like in Oath in Felghana. But besides this, you can basically increase a lot of your stats directly in this menu. So you can increase your movement speed, MP regeneration speed, boost regeneration speed, stun timer on enemies, or decrease your own status affliction timers. It gives you a secondary thing to improve on while grinding, which helps speed the game up the smallest bit. Though I think the biggest benefit is just the mental one in the moments you do find yourself underleveled and pushed to kill a bunch of enemies more because there’s a second resource with more direct benefits than gold typically gives you in these games.Boss fights in Ys Origin are the best they’ve ever been. Every boss is visually distinct, and has easy to distinguish and read patterns of their own. During Oath in Felghana, there were a few bosses where I had visibility issues, like the Ice Dragon, or bosses where certain mechanics were finnicky enough that I felt like I was doing the right thing but it wasn’t working anyway. Or sometimes just finnicky enough that using certain abilities, like that punch you get from the Terra Bracelet that lets you ignore damage, lets you skip most mechanics during fights.Instead of allowing the level of trivialization Oath in Felghana let you get away with, Origin has most bosses give you clear windows in which they’re vulnerable that you have to earn by damaging certain parts of them enough first. Often putting extra hazards in the way that, when not dealt with fast enough, can heal the boss again, increasing the length of the fight. While this sounds like it would make everything a slog, it couldn’t be further from the truth. The fights typically don’t overstay their welcome, having varied enough patterns to get through before you make it your turn to damage them again. A lot of bosses have special attacks they’ll only do as they’re becoming vulnerable, or leaving this phase. Others go into a special enraged phase near death that changes things up while still playing by the same rules they originally did, so the mixups are never too cheap.Though the big flashy boss fights aren’t the only ones, you often enough fight people your own size, with several rival style fights against various enemies being spread during your journey, no matter who you play as. These fights generally don’t have periods of vulnerability that you have to open up, but instead often put themselves into a temporary state of invulnerability when damaged enough. Having the reverse happen for fights on the opposite end of the scale is a nice touch, and since their stronger state is a reflection of your ability to boost, it still makes everything feel fair and consistent. Like they’re playing by your rules. It’s something that I felt was missing with the bosses in Oath in Felghana especially, but not so much in Ark of Napishtim. Bosses are playing by very consistent rules, ones that don’t feel too far removed from your own. I think this is why I don’t mind bumping up the difficulty in Origin more than the other Ark engine titles.Though for the sake of capturing footage for this review, I’ve kept everything set to normal. I only wanted to get through the game again so I could talk about it, since this is my favorite Ys title and I’m familiar enough with it to begin with. Something that’s generally underappreciated in reviews for Ys Origin is that a fairly large portion of the boss fights are reimagined versions of bosses from Ys Book 1 and 2.With the standout fight being the one against the centipede, Nygtilger. Smashing body parts while moving aside explosive orbs, and running on top of him are all really fun, and so much better than running in a circle from the right angle. People often say they’d really loved a Ys 1 remake in the Ark engine, but in some ways, this is already it. Several major bosses from the original game come back in a new form, and it’s interesting how different the change in gameplay has been to them. Though if I have to be honest, I’m not as fond of Yogleks and Omulgin in Origin as I am in the original. It’s mostly because what I especially liked about the fight in the original is a shortened phase during the fight in this version of it, and the focus isn’t entirely on them either. Granted, doing a full fight in the original style might not exactly be as interesting as it used to be when put next to the rest of the combat in the game.Hit and run tactics work a lot better with bump combat. So let’s talk about the Elephant Claw in the room. Because I know some people are especially wary of it, there’s a timestamp on the screen where spoilers end right now. I’m not going to spoil the story either way, and I’m not going to give too much away. But if you’d rather not know about the thing coming up, you can skip to that point. Though that said, this isn’t a well kept secret. There’s three groups exploring the tower at the same time. The four knights, four mages. But there’s also four outsiders who the other two groups keep running into during their storylines. You know how earlier in this review, I compared the character select screen to Resident Evil? Well, what if Resident Evil 1 let you play as Whesker after you beat it? On the PC release, you have to beat the game once, and on the console release, you have to beat the game as both characters.But once you do, you unlock Claw. Now, I’m not going to spoil the story or character of Claw. Or even talk about who he is. There’s no real secret as to Claw being in the game. He’s in the promotional art for the game. He’s often featured prominently on boxarts and splash screens. So we all know he’s there. But for those who don’t know who he is and with interest in this game. I’d rather spare you these details and have you experience them for yourself. I don’t know which unlock method I’d prefer by the way. While it would be nice to go from Yunica’s gameplay straight to Claw’s, story-wise you’re way more up to speed with him from Hugo’s perspective. Beating the game with both characters is totally fine as a requirement. I timed how long it took me to beat the game between the two characters and I was still under 18 hours of playtime with the two characters combined before starting with the third character.Claw is a short range glass cannon. He attacks with a sequence of swipes from his gigantic claws. His lunge attack gives him a longer range slide to help close the gap faster while still keeping the defensive debuff attribute, but even his base movement speed is already a lot higher than Yunica or Hugo’s. His attacks don’t deal that much damage per hit, but the speed at which he delivers successive blows means you’re still mowing down enemies really fast.Now add to this that his combat style really favors keeping up a good combo rating for his experience multiplier and you can probably imagine just how much faster Claw breezes through the game. Instead of a Boost mode, he essentially gets a Devil Trigger. Not only buffing his offensive and defensive stats, but giving his magical abilities special properties. Instead of a hovering abilities, Claw gets a blink strike. Since this covers less ground than both Yunica and Hugo’s versions of the whirlwind attacks, the dungeon layout in areas where you needed this to progress or get treasure chests has been slightly altered. Usually placing a lowered ceiling with spikes under it that you have to blink through in its place, as blinking makes you completely invulnerable to damage you’re speeding past. Charging it up increases the ground covered when blinking. When boosted, the areas he’s blinking past have small explosions coming out of the ground, dealing extra damage. His wall crushing ability is an explosive jab that deals a ton of damage.With the charged up version creating a bigger blast to hit larger amounts of enemies, and the boosted version sucking enemies into it to hit even more of them. It’s a great ability to quickly take care of groups of enemies. His fire ability has him do a small spinning jump that makes you completely invulnerable to damage during the period the attack is going, which while doing it on a flat surface, will be the entire time your feet are off the ground. It also deals a decent amount of damage, especially the charged version.Which makes this one of the most useful attacks during a lot of the boss fights. Claw fights all of the same big bosses as Yunica and Hugo, with a few extra additions that, for spoiler reasons, I’d rather not show. Overal the bosses he fights that Yunica and Hugo don’t are harder to aproach, since they’re balanced around his speed, leaving less room for weak points in their motions unless you create them for yourself by interrupting their attacks. During the shared bosses, the change in how his abilities work really come to show. Since Hugo and Yunica’s abilities are more focused around mobility and utility outside of combat, Claw cleans most of them up really fast if you’re aggressive enough. Although you almost have to, with how little a beating he’s allowed to take. His blink being able to go through projectiles, and his fire attack allowing you to attack right through their attacks when timed right, makes the fights feel tense since the slightest mistiming hurts you way more than it even did Hugo, who, during the worst of it, could at least summon a shield.It’s really hard to talk about Claw without saying too much of the story, but I really don’t want to spoil his deal, as his story is generally considered the true path. The three characters all go through the same timeline of events with big differences based on who you play, with the changes usually made directly by the character you’re playing as being the one taking the initiative with everything. Because of this, you often get to see the supporting cast respond to things differently, since the perspective of events has been changed so much. And with that said, Claw’s events are the ones that end up aligning the most with the original Ys 1’s backstory. If you think Claw is the end of the game, then well…. Yeah, you’re not totally wrong. But there’s still a lot more to explore in Ys Origin beyond the three campaigns, like the unlockable Time Attack mode, the Arena mode, unlockable gameplay variants of the three characters, and a lot of difficulty options. Though the base game takes about 8 hours per character to beat, there’s still a lot of gameplay you can choose to continue with if you’re left wanting for more.Or if you’re fine with leaving it after the characters, you’re completely justified too. In fact, just playing the game as Yunica alone should give you a perfectly enjoyable and satisfying experience, even if going through the other characters creates a much more satisfying end result. As you’ve probably noticed so far, the music in Ys Origin is fantastic. It is in the entire series, with the exception of Mask of the Sun and Lost Kefin. But something about the arrangements, instrument choices, and original compositions in Origin really gets to me. There’s some really solid arrangements of music from past Ys titles, with the most obvious one being Tower of the Shadow of Death when you enter the dungeon properly.Being able to compare the different takes of the song, and the outer parts of the tower, is really fun. It gives you a sense the series has really gone through a lot over the years. The area and boss themes are fantastic. And the boss themes better be with how often you’re likely to hear them the first time you’re playing the game, or the attempts at higher difficulties if you’re making any. If I haven’t made it clear enough, Ys Origin is my favorite entry in the series. I was interested to see if my opinions would have changed after having gone through the entire series through the course of the year, both old and new, but if anything, it has deepened my appreciation of the game by a lot.While you could technically start here, and get a fantastic experience out of it either way, I would still advice new players to at least give the two modern bump combat entries, 1 and 2 Chronicles, a shot before playing Origin since the importance of a lot of what happens will mean so much more to you coming into it with an understanding of the world and lore surrounding the game. But it serves its purpose as both a standalone title, and a prequel, remarkably well. .