Lots and lots of puzzles, and multiple ways to finish the game. Comprised of mainly block moving puzzles to progress room to room in the games dungeons. While there are a few other puzzles throughout the game, mainly block moving is what the player will be doing.
The environments of the game use bright colors and are rendered in a pleasant looking birdseye view 3D. The forest sections of the game stand out with light shining through the trees as well as the water in the sailing sections stand out the most.
Ys I and II uses a combat system known as "bump combat" where the player just runs into their enemies in real time, bumping into enemies attacks with ones equipped weapon and has to be done repeatedly in order to defeat them.
Like a lot of old school RPGs, Ys features a lot of grinding in order to defeat boss's. This can become tiresome after some time as it is just doing the same thing over and over again in order to progress.
Starting the game one is playing something very reminiscent of a classic Gameboy game, many elements borrowed from famous franchises of the time. As the player advance the game changes it's graphics to match all of the popular consoles from the last 30 years and each change resembles many other
The gameplay changes from action based combat resembling Secret of Mana or Zelda to turn based (when fighting bosses) that resembles Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger. This switchng back and forth fits with the theme of the game where it covers years of RPG releases of different genres.