Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana Review

After shipwrecking onto the mysterious Isle of Seiren, our favourite red-haired hero Adol is tasked with seeking out survivors while exploring the island no one has ever escaped. What awaits him there is beyond imagination.

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is the latest entry in the Ys series to makes it’s way to the west. You follow Adol as he goes from adventurer-posing-as-a-sailor to adventurer of a mysterious island. While on this island, he’ll meet and rescue other survivors of the Lombardia, and work together with them to come up with a plan to escape that island. However, things end going a bit weird when Adol starts to have mysterious dreams about a girl named Dana. Who is she? Why is he having these dreams?

The story of Ys VIII is exceptionally well done, aside from one spot. For most of the game I was really getting into the story, often staying up longer than I should have to find out what happened next. The one exception to this was a story spot I encountered in the back half of Chapter 2.

Without going into too much detail, a side story arc was suddenly brought in, it went all over, and then ended. The bulk of this story arc was never mentioned again (other than a few of the consequences of it), and it honestly turned me off even wanting to play for a few days. Once I was able to get back to the game I highly enjoyed it again, but that one spot has constantly been lingering in the back of my mind. I feel like they could’ve handled what happened in it much better without suddenly springing it on the player.

For veterans to the series, the combat to Ys VIII will feel very similar. My closest comparison to the combat would be from Celceta, though I will admit that I’m not as experienced on all of the games, having only finished Celceta and Origin. Basically, imagine having Celceta’s combat cleaned up and with more buttons to work with. For those unfamiliar, Ys has an action based system with simply hitting the enemies with your weapon and using skills as you see fit with SP. After swapping around the default bindings, I found combat to be extremely fluid, being able to go from attacking one enemy to the next with ease.

My biggest complaint about combat would be the button used to swap around characters. While yes I know you can change bindings (again, I did so for other buttons), this is both a binding that you want convenient and yet I don’t want to accidentally hit it when I’m trying to do a skill but the game registers that I’ve let go of the R2 button (switched from R1). At times it does feel like there’s too many things you want bound and not enough buttons on the controller, particularly when you’re trying to dodge, use skills, and guard all at the same time. Perhaps this comes from not being as much of a veteran of the series, but I do wonder if these could have been handled better.

Speaking of guarding and dodging, I never did quite get the hang of the timing for dodging or guarding. Since I played on Normal I wasn’t overly punished for this, but it just felt like the timing window for them wasn’t always when I expected it to be, often resulting in me getting smacked by whatever it was I was trying to dodge. Considering the benefits of dodging – time slows down for everything except your party, giving you free time to attack the enemy – it feels a bit awkward that the timing was feeling a bit off.

Both the music and English voice acting are quite well done in Ys VIII. The tracks are catchy and fit the mood, and I enjoyed each character’s voice. I did encounter an issue in Chapter 5 where a character started randomly speaking in Japanese for no reason, and one point earlier in which a character repeated a line, but that’s the only problem spots I ran into. While this won’t affect many people, I did find out that the French translation of the game has a few trouble spots early – once the text was larger than the text box, and another spot where there was a typo.

Much like the music, the graphics of Ys VIII are gorgeous. The Isle of Seiren is bright and colourful on the outside, and the caves are dark and grimy. Sometimes the caves are a bit TOO dark though, even with the item that lights up dark places for you. I do wish that some items were given to you a bit early, since I don’t always remember everywhere I might need to go back to once I get things such as the double jump item.

Overall, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is an extremely enjoyable experience, outside of that one story arc that happens in Chapter 2. It’s fun and addictive, and you’ll likely find yourself trying to hunt down those last few chests or percentages of the map. The PS4 version – the one I played – also includes some nice bonuses for the Dana parts of the game, and even includes the terrifying Inferno difficulty! Nightmare is already difficult, but are you up for the task of Inferno?

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana gets a very easy recommendation from me if you enjoy action games or just JRPGs in general.

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana Review Score

If it weren’t for those technical hiccups with the voicing and that spot in Chapter 2 this probably would’ve been a 5. Also, fishing. Fishing is fun.

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana will be released on September 12, 2017 for PS4, PSVita and Steam.

I would like to thank NIS America for providing me with a PS4 code for review.

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