Release Date: 02/14/2013
Available Exclusively On
Being a direct sequel to Ys I, and being the late 80s, I came into this not expecting much. While content-wise it’s completely new, with new locales, new characters, new weapons, and armor, otherwise it looks the exact same and plays the same way. You still play as Adol Christin trying to save the world of Ys from another evil source and rescue the Goddesses Reah and Freena.
The game even starts out the exact same way. You wake up in a house in a quiet village and must start your adventure in a green forest area like before. Sadly, the game is just as cryptic and obscure when it comes to figuring out what to do. I followed a guide through my entire playthrough, but if I hadn’t there would be so much backtracking and aimless wondering. Some of the dungeons are more improved layout-wise, but the final two dungeons are a labyrinthine mess, more so than anything in the first game. I had to resort to a map online to figure out where to go, especially when I had to backtrack and start learning shortcuts.
The bump system still exists but seems a little easier and more forgiving this time around. You don’t need to hit enemies off center, but it’s still not a fun combat system. It makes the game fast-paced and I like the lack of random battles, but it’s still not engaging in any way. Thankfully, this time around, you don’t need to rely on hidden obscure equipment and can just buy stuff as you can afford it. Only the short sword, in the beginning, can be had for free in the first dungeon, but everything is to be purchased. I liked the addition of magic wands in this game. It helps add a layer to combat, but sadly it’s abused with boss fights. All but the final boss need to be beaten with the magic only, and the only offensive magic is fire. Which I found a bit weird. Everything else is passive magic such as being able to turn into a Roo to talk to enemies to pass certain areas, Light Magic which is used to see secret doorways and light dark areas, and Time Magic which slows enemies down. Unfortunately, a lot of items, required or not, are hidden in obscure areas and can be easily missed without thorough exploration or a guide.
I did find the boss fights more manageable this time around and less frustrating. The leveling system is also improved, but only slightly. While the cap this time around went from 10 to 55 you can easily reach the first 30 levels in the first two hours of the game. Before the first boss, I was already almost level 20. Bosses are a lot more reasonable and I only struggled with a couple of them, but once you learn their attack patterns it becomes much more manageable.
Overall, Ys II is a good sequel to the first game. With enough new content to explore and an interesting story and fun characters. While I wouldn’t say the story itself is memorable, the adventure itself is fun I just wish the magic system was more expanded and there was less backtracking. Most of the game’s fault comes from the cryptic items and confusing dungeon layouts, but it’s manageable with a guide. It’s a fine Ys game to send out with the 80s and still remains a solid RPG today.