Hello everyone! I apologize for my extreme delay in submitting this review. I really wanted to sit down with this title and explore the game to the full extent. Lucky for me, this comes after the announcement for the release of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana Accolades. Definitely pick it up!
I’ll start this review off by saying I have not played any of the previous Ys titles, so Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana will be my first in the series. This review also comes after the backlash of the initial release. The version I was able to play was for the Nintendo Switch, which included all the promised patches for the game. That being said, my review is from the perspective of a new comer, and a player who didn’t experience the first wave release of the game.
After the Lombardia was attacked by a mysterious sea creature, passengers are washed onto the island Seiren. Survivors must band together, find other passengers, protect their camp and find a way off of the island. The game starts out as mere survival and then builds with unexpected things happening at every turn. Ancient beasts, mysterious notes, strange dreams, and even more! I would love to go more into the story but I really don’t want to ruin it for anyone who intends on picking up the game! However, I will comment that the story is worthwhile to play through since the story unfolds in such a fascinating way.
Ys VIII is a real-time RPG so you fight monsters as they appear with various attacks. Combat is simple. You can attack, down attack, skill attack, and Extra attack. During combat you will also need to block and dodge. The dynamic fighting style draws the player into combat since some monsters require you to use dodging and blocking in order to gain the advantage. When you block/dodge at the right moments, you get block guard/flash guard, which slows the monster down for a few seconds in order for you to unleash a few more hits on them. This much better than bashing “A” (although, you can also do that, but take some damage in the process) to defeat enemies. Mastering when to block and dodge is particularly useful when you defend the campsite and fight bosses since you gain extra points when you do so. As you play through, the characters learn skills as you level up. You can swap skills out as you play through the game making each character adaptable to your play style. However, each character can only hold up to 4 skills during play, so you’ll need to pay attention to weaknesses and range.
Each character has a unique set of skills and are stronger against certain monsters. As you fight monsters you’ll notice where their weaknesses are and switch out accordingly. When I play other RPGs, I tend to rely on one character to defeat monsters and bosses in, and this will make the game feel stale and boring, but as you adventure around the island, monsters in an area have a variety of weaknesses so you can’t just adventure solely with one character. Although Adol is the main character, you’ll get a lot of play with the other characters -Adol doesn’t even have to be on your team!
The game environment feels open since there are many locations to discover and side missions to complete. However, the game is very guided and certain areas will open based on how you have progressed through the story and the game overall. I found myself exploring every inch of the island and getting frustrated when there were areas I couldn’t easily access. Although the map is limited, the game does a good job guiding you back to areas where you may have missed a couple items or needed to level up in order to play through.
One aspect that I really enjoyed about the game is the collection aspect. Not only does it make sense to collect materials versus money (since money wouldn’t exist on a deserted island, anyway) but you can utilize most of the materials you collect. In most RPGs I tend to sell off random collected materials for whichever monetary system the game established making the items seem incredibly pointless. The collection aspect in Ys just made sense. There isn’t a limit to how much your character can “hold” so you can collect as much as you need to.
Between story plots, there are different types of raids you will need to participate in. Depending on how well you do during a raid you will collect more items you can craft or trade for other things. Before a raid, you’ll need to set up items to protect/distract beasts. These items can be leveled up. During a raid, the beasts will try to destroy these items and your goal is protect them and the camp. You gain more points by using more special moves and using the dodge/block mechanic (as mentioned briefly above).
While adventuring, there are a variety of side activities you can do. You can take on side quests to level up your relationships with members at the campsite, or, while adventuring, you can take a break and go fishing. Fishing isn’t particularly important, but it helps with completing the journal (if you’re into that completion stuff), and in some instances locate hidden treasures. Maxing out your approvals and completing missions for side will also affect the ending you get.
I have not played this title on any other console besides the Nintendo Switch. Graphics aren’t remarkable, but they’re enough to draw you into the atmosphere of the Ys world. In some instances, the game will lag and you’ll notice a significant decrease in quality. I’ve only seen this when Adol is interacting with another character at the campsite and only in handheld mode. Switching to TV mode, I do not notice any decrease in quality. I’ve also encountered this when I play as past Dana. The game will lag when she needs to switch between powers. When this happened, I would restart the game and it would play as normal.
Another aspect I enjoyed about the game is that monsters, in design, are varied. Some look similar, but it’s not always a re-skin or re-color of another monster from a different area. So, that’s a plus. Of course, there are the same “types” of monsters around the island, but the varying design makes the areas you play through more believable and immersive, it’s like Seiren is a real place.
The game play allows for a variety styles of play. You’re not always bashing the same button or using the same character throughout the game. You’re also not focusing on only one mission at a time. You can choose between plowing through to get to the next story point, or have a bit of fun exploring the island.
I love the plots, arcs, and twists to the overall story. The game slowly reveals the mysteries of the island and you don’t want to leave until everything has been resolved.
Sometimes there’s a drop in graphic quality in handheld mode, but it’s not enough to ruin the game. Every now and then a re-start is required.
It might be the Switch itself, but there are places where I accidentally pull up certain menus or will unleash an extra skill. Button sensitivity can be slightly annoying.
Overall, I’d rate Ys VIII and 8 out of 10. I really enjoyed the story, the dynamic game play sets Ys apart from other titles. I couldn’t rank much higher than 8 since there were quite a few instances where I found myself putting down the game after an hour or so of play. There’s some missing element that I can’t quite put my finger on which prevented me from being completely hooked on the game.
Have you played any Ys titles? Have you picked up Ys VIII? What are your impressions of the game? Let us know in the comments!