Title: Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
Platform: PC|Vita|PS4 (reviewed)
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software
Release date: September 15 2017
tl;dr: I’ve never played a Ys title before and now I want to check out the rest.
Price: $60/£40
Family Focus: Click here for more information.

I am a huge lover of all things JRPG, but I’ve never played a Ys title before. So, when I saw this game up for review, I jumped at the chance, as the artwork looked beautiful, and I’m glad I went for it, as Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is definitely one of my games of the year for 2017.

The Ys series chronicles the adventures of Adol Cristin, a young man with a thirst for adventure, and has the uncanny knack for being in the right place at the right time. In Lacrimosa of Dana, Adol is a shipwright aboard the Lombardia, until the night of the banquet, when a giant sea creature attacks the ship. Adol awakes shipwrecked on an island, finding himself on yet another adventure to save the others, after the incident upon the Lombardia. Although saving the shipwrecked passengers won’t be your only quest as you have to solve the mystery of the attacks on your camp from the mysterious ‘Nameless Slasher’ and solve the intricate dungeons all whilst finding out the mystery of the Isle of Seiren.

The battle system for Lacrimosa of Dana is similar to Final Fantasy 15, as the battles happen on the field without transitioning into a battle stage, giving you complete freedom in battle with your two companions. The game uses the “X,” button to attack with skill commands bound to R1, and any of the four face buttons. Each enemy has a weakness to the class your party consists of; for example, Adol is a slashing class, meaning squishy enemies are weak to him, whilst hard-shell or armoured enemies are weak against the heavy class. In battle, you also need to utilise the dodge and guard mechanics, as performing a perfect dodge or guard has special effects. The perfect dodge allows you to perform a flurry of attacks on your foe whilst they’re suspended in time, and a perfect guard increases the number of critical hits you output; both are very effective in turning the tide in a difficult battle.

Besides exploration and battles, you can also go fishing to acquire ingredients for cooking to buff your characters with status immunities or experience boosters. Every so often you need to protect your village you create and fortify to protect the castaways you find throughout your adventure from the threat of the surrounding beasts who attack you in waves throughout your journeys. Not only must you protect the inhabitants of Castaway Village but you must keep them happy by helping them out with their various side quests by creating furniture, watchtowers and even finding new recipes.

Graphically, I wasn’t expecting Ys VIII to impress me, due to originally being developed as a Vita title and then ported to PS4, but the game pushed past my expectations. Whilst not as visually stunning as Tales of Berseria, for example, the game still exceeds the graphical expectation of a Vita title. But being a Vita game did strip it from feeling like a totally open world, as the game splits it up into mini maps for you to explore; whilst this doesn’t deter the fun you have with this game, as loading times are lightning quick, it does break the magic a little.

Now, something I love most in video games, something that helps me draw or write, is the soundtrack for a game, and Ys VIII has an incredible soundtrack! Holy shit, the boss theme is incredible; it makes you ready to take on whatever stands in your way. The guitar riffs mixed with melodic tones of a keyboard thrown together with a hefty beat, whether it be techno loops or a simple 8/8 rhythm of the drums… I wish I took my music lessons more seriously when I was a teenager. But seriously, the soundtrack helps you through the adventures of the deserted Isle of Seiren.

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is definitely a JRPG every fan of the genre should try out, especially as you don’t need to worry about playing the rest of the games in series to understand the plot, as each title is its own self-contained storyline. Whilst there are nods to Adol’s previous adventures, you won’t find your experience hindered by these little moments. As I mentioned at the top of this review, Ys VIII will stand amongst the already amazing line up that 2017 has provided us with such as; Breath of the Wild, Persona 5 and Horizon: Zero Dawn.

The Good

  • An amazing advenure with suspense around every corner.
  • A high paced battle system.
  • A great soundtrack that perfectly accompanies the adventures of Adol.

The Bad

  • Slow start but picks up after 30 minutes.
  • The running can be a little hard to control.
  • Made me spend too much money getting older titles…

Family Focus: Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is rated T for Teen and PEGI 12 with fantasy violence and the occasional death.

This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.