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Karifean's Blog of Visual Novels

A Modern Guide to Ys - Ys II Chronicles

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Ys II Chronicles

As previously mentioned, Ys II resumes right where Ys I left us, with Adol being beamed up into the sky onto the floating island that is the old land of Ys. He wakes up outside of a small place called Lance Village without any of his equipment (how convenient) and without wasting any time gets roped into having to save the local doctor from a cave-in in a nearby monster-infested mine. At the same time the cave is intertwined with an old sanctuary where your secondary objective becomes returning all the six books of Ys from the first game to the statues of the six priests found in the different areas of said sanctuary. As you do, they encourage you to head to the Shrine of Solomon to save the kingdom from the darkness that has overcome it.

From there on the game plays out in a way very similar to the first Ys game overall, though with a larger variety of tasks and possibilities along your path. The biggest game changer is the addition of magic, which gives you a long-range projectile as well as several other useful spells to make the adventure more fun and varied. Regarding the areas of the game themselves, some are more maze-like while others have several points of interest you need to visit. At the very least none of the dungeons are as straightforward as going down a linear path.

Easily one of my favorite addition in this game is the Magic of Transformation which you get a few dungeons into the game that allows you to transform yourself into a Roo; an adorable little demon-like creature. In this form monsters do not attack you, and even better, you can understand their language which allows you to speak with them. And in true Falcom fashion you damn well better believe every single monster in the game has their own unique name and couple lines of dialogue. I genuinely love this. Not only does it add a lot of charm and personality to areas of the game you wouldn't normally expect, it also does wonders to break up the gameplay when it gets a bit repetitive as you can just transform for a while and take a break from fighting monsters.

Honestly, despite being very similar to Ys I overall, I'd say Ys II has aged significantly better. The leveling curve is far more smooth with enemies mostly remaining a decent challenge throughout instead of constantly jumping between being total pushovers and being unbeatable monsters. The bump system is also more forgiving in this one, as it now allows you to approach enemies diagonally and safely take them out that way. In addition, most boss battles focus on usage of the Fire magic which turns them into more bullet hell kind of battles with a focus on dodging the enemy patterns and projectiles while getting your own hits in when possible. They remain simplistic (it's still a 30 year old game) but they make for pretty enjoyable battles. The only gripe I have is that sometimes you still do have to grind a bit or upgrade your weapon to be able to even deal damage to a boss, but this was never an issue as leveling up is really fast in this game as well.

Much like Ys I's Darm Tower, by far the most memorable part of the game is the final dungeon: the Solomon Shrine, which ends up taking up the latter half of the game. The special thing about this one is that it's actually a dungeon and a town in one; when you use the Magic of Transformation the place is pretty much an RPG town and both playing it as a dungeon and as a town is required to make it through, as you'll need to talk with many different demons and gain key items to be able to access some areas. Less exciting is the fact that it's a gigantic maze with numerous corridors that look extremely same-y and loads of dead ends and passages that are locked until you gain the required key items. It can become pretty trying on your patience over time, though thankfully enough the overall layout of the shrine is simple enough with six sectors each dedicated to one of the six priests and there's only really one place of importance in every sector. And the music is completely amazing so that helps a lot.

This is going to be full spoilers but I do want to talk about the story told by the duology. The actual villains of both games are very much one-dimensional mwahaha bad guys, although Dalles in this game takes a very personal hand in screwing you over several times which definitely gives him more of a commanding presence than Dark Fact or Darm. But in the end the story isn't about the villains as the actual conflict presented is about the Black Pearl, the artifact of immense magical power that is responsible both for Ys' prosperity in its golden age as well as the outbreak of the demons that later besieged it. The final battle is less about taking down a bad guy and more about sealing away the magic of Ys for good, signified beautifully by your MP bar draining entirely after you defeat the boss. In the end the two goddesses of Ys turn out to be none other than Reah and Feena from the first game and despite the affection between Adol and Feena (signified rather beautifully by Adol breaking his silent protagonist status to utter merely her name) she decides to join Reah in keeping the Black Pearl safely away from any potential future misuse as Ys, now back from the sky down on earth, has everything it needs to get a clean start.

I very much enjoyed my time with Ys II. It's not a long game but I was surprised by the sheer amount of things they packed into it while keeping the pace brisk and feeling good and still leading to a pretty epic conclusion. It irons out a lot of the quirks of Ys I while also adding a lot of charm. I know some of the more self-referential lines were added in the Chronicles version but I looked back over the older releases on youtube and pretty much everything was already there back then. And of course the music is just as incredible as in Ys I.

With that, the storyline of the land of Ys comes to a close. From here on out "Ys" is merely an artifact title, with Adol's adventures now taking him all over the world and Dogi from Ys I becoming his partner who shows up in pretty much every game. To properly show how the series develops I will from here on out go in release order which unfortunately has us jump forward a few numbers for now. Next up, let's take a look at Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim.

Updated 12-29-2019 at 12:13 PM by Karifean