Did somebody call for a boy scout?
Don't blame yourself for not knowing what Ys is. Despite the series being around since 1987, Western audiences without a knack for mod chips and imports probably have no clue who Adol Christin is or why he has red hair or even why his arrival means the day is saved.
[image1]The Oath in Felghana is actually a port of a 2005 PC remake of Ys III. For a series with such a storied lifetime, it's remarkable that so little of this knowledge is required to enjoy the game. In fact, it was an excellent idea to leave behind the numerics in its title, because The Oath in Felghana can easily stand by itself.
Ys III was originally a 2D action RPG in the same vein of Zelda II. But of course, there's a reason no one talks about Zelda II… Typically, 2D RPGs just don't allow for the kind of exploration that makes open-world RPGs exciting. On the other hand, The Oath in Felghana is in 3D with branching environments and open paths. As you control Adol Christin on his adventure, you'll hack, slash, and cast magic in all directions. The camera's shifting perspective is out of the player's control, but it does a good job of presenting the combat, platforming, puzzles, and boss fights.
The visuals aren't mind-blowing in any sense of the word, but the gameplay is deep and thoroughly satisfying when you can play on the go. Save points are a little further apart than you may like, but that makes survival a lot more compelling during the long hard dungeon crawls. Felghana is chock full of those arduous and challenging areas, but none of them end up being monotonous.
[image2]Each dungeon is packed with monsters, treasure, new abilities, platforming, and the odd plot point here and there. As you slash through enemies, you'll pick up various buffs, gold, and health. The further your hit combo climbs, the more powerful your strikes become. It might seem like button-mashing at first, but the game quickly adds various enemies that require thought, like those that are only susceptible to certain types of magic. Remember, button mashing can be fun when it's engaging.
The Oath in Felghana has a ton of enjoyable adventuring on the go, but the plot just isn't that compelling. Adol Christin is your typical voiceless RPG hero and everyone around him is expectedly helpless and in need of assistance. Christin's sidekick, Dogi, can be funny at times, but is blatantly absent when fighting needs to be done.
Felghana's landscapes are varied, but your reasons for exploring are not. Ys may be the originator of these genre tropes, but they are nevertheless tired and boring. The helpless love interest, the vile king, the misguided knight: None of these characters are compelling in any way, so it's good that the combat is.
Despite its flaws, The Oath in Felghana is the perfect game for the PSP. Enjoyable combat and dungeon crawling is its own reward. Having fun while you're playing the game will easily make the mundane plot and characters fade away out of your memory. Though much of what happens in the story is obvious from the outset, it won't matter after 25 hours of fantastic play.