If you’re gonna come at the king, you better not miss.
Making a Diablo-alike means bringing your ‘A’ game. There’s no room for mediocrity here. It’s been going for decades. And it does what it does very well.
Ys Origin is not a direct Diablo clone as such, but it shares enough DNA to make it a close brother, or at least a cousin, despite coming along six years after the first Diablo sequel.
So, does it come anywhere near the king? Close enough to get a shot off, at least?
Well, it starts off in fairly tepid fashion. You choose a character from one of two, either a female based more around strong melee attacks, or one that’s slightly more magic-focused with greater range.
You then proceed to explore a huge tower, sort of how you do in Capcom’s D&D: Tower of Doom. The tower itself is rumoured to contain the founders of the land of Ys, long lost after a gigantic battle with invading demons. I’m a novice to this series, so a lot of the starting dialogue was lost on me and it just seemed like the usual RPG gibberish. It does get better, mind, but takes some time to get going.
As per usual in ARPGs, your motivation to go from point A to point B is task-based with very little time spent on character, and a lot more focus on lore. So in reality you trudge around this place, casting spells and hitting various monsters in the typical action-RPG style. Even by the standards of the sub-genre it leans more heavily on the action than the RPG, with only slight tinkering in the menu and very slow incremental upgrades to spells, meaning that the action is barely impeded.
The action itself is…OK. Functionally it’s fine. The hitboxes are fine. The visual language of the level layout, and how to read the enemy attacks is…fine. But it never really achieves any kind of breakaway, which certainly isn’t helped by the fact that the backgrounds are monochromatic.
Ys Origin doesn’t feature any effects that are particularly outstanding. It’s perfectly pleasant and serviceable, but there’s no artistry in the visuals and when you’re doing very similar repetitive actions for such a long time, it can get dull. You can’t even blame lack of power for this. Ok, so it was originally released way back in 2006 on Windows XP, but the likes of SaGa Frontier 2 and Valkyrie Profile pre-date this by seven long years, and are a complete class apart.
The enemy difficulty increases on a decent curve – not too sharp or steep – and some of the fighting techniques can be quite satisfying. The male character begins with a double tap forward attack to deliver a bolt of lightning with decent AoE, which is interesting and brings an element of cadence, and a rhythm that you need to perfect, If you want it in your arsenal and easily deployable.
Really though, this is quite a bit of waffle. Origin is entirely MOR; entirely average. For a series outsider, it feels quite tropey, very well trodden and has a tendency to slip into a solamnic blandness. Inoffensive to the point of being vanishingly forgettable, this is one for the fans alone, I think.
P.S. I’m annoyed I couldn’t end with, “Only for fans of the series is this a Ys choice” but the powers that be decreed ‘Ys’ isn’t pronounced ‘wise’, but rather as ‘ees’ (to rhythm with ‘geese’) so…bah…that nobbles that gag.