YS VIII – PS4 Review – by Draul

Genre: Action, RPG
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Publisher: NIS America, Inc.
Release Date: Sep 12, 2017

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA is the newest entry in the Ys series in over 8 years! Ys is an action RPG series that began in 1989 on the TurboGrafx-16! This is the first brand new game since the original release of Ys VII in 2009. Of course, Ys VII just hit PC recently and our reviewer DarkLunarDude will be tackling that review! Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA brings the Ys series into a modern age of gaming!

One thing I have to start off by saying is that it seems developers are using a lot of tropes in stories these days. Maybe I just play to many games, or maybe I just play all the exact games that just so happen to use these tropes. What I mean by this is I can think of 5 or 6 games within the last 4 years that start with characters on a boat, and that said boat gets attacked by some sort of water creature with tentacles. What I find more interesting is while playing Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA for the first time I noticed it has a ton of mechanics and features that Final Fantasy XV had. Thinking more…. Final Fantasy XIV originally started out on a boat where your boat was attacked… Now this doesn’t necessarily affect the score of the game but I felt it is something I should discuss! The more I looked into features of some of the past Ys games that I may have missed I realized something. Final Fantasy XV has borrowed a lot of elements from the Ys series. Whether or not Nihom Falcom has realized that or not I am not sure of, personally I find it kind of endearing.

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA continues the story of the red-haired hero Adol Christin beginning his journey on a boat. As previously mentioned the boat meets a disastrous end and he awakens on a mysterious, cursed island. The first goal is to find survivors. Eventually doing so you start a base camp to keep the people you find safe, and in doing so you unlock merchants, and several crafting benches or locations. Part of finding more and more survivors means you also gain access to new areas of the game world. For example: you might come across some fallen rocks blocking a path to a zone, and it will say you need 7 survivors to remove the rubble – but you may only have 6. So upon finding a 7th survivor you can return to that area and open it up!

While exploring you will come across a wide variety of monsters and resource nodes. The combat is pretty fun and engaging. It isn’t groundbreaking by any means but it gets the job done. There is a combo system in the game and combining that with your special abilities can create some pretty flashy encounters. Also, each creature has a strength and weakness. The different player characters do a certain kind of damage. For instance, Adol does slashing, another character does piercing, and the other character will do blunt or smashing damage. Using the right kind of damage on a creature will break their protection faster or just generally do more damage to said creatures. Bigger creatures such as bosses or mini bosses also have weak points. Find that weak point and the bosses go down quickly. Throw in the ability to jump and dodge the game’s combat is very very entertaining. Of course playing the larger characters some would say it feels clunky but that is by design. It is rare the giant would be doing quick dashes and be overly agile! Plus let’s not mention you have a 3 character party and can actively change which character you play as on the fly! Just adding more interesting choices to your combat!

Killing the mobs or gathering from the nodes will give you various materials. You will use these for healing, crafting, upgrading, or turning them in for quests. Most of the time you will find yourself farming for materials so you can upgrade all of your characters and craft the best gear and consumables. You can upgrade your weapons and make new ones. Finding the right resources at times can be a pain in the ass, but when you do find them it makes getting that new weapon or armor all worth the while! You can even craft costumes for your characters! Ever so often you can accept a quest from a board back at base camp. Most of these quests are requests for materials to build or improve your base camp! Adding new crafting types, upgrading what the crafters can make, or what the merchants sell. Sometimes it is just a cosmetic part of the base but doing all of these quests builds reputation or favor with said character. Oh and there is fishing! The fishing mini game was pretty useful and the fish you catch serve several purposes. From handing each unique fish to a bird for items, or using them to craft food which is used for buffs or healing applied to the entire party.

The artwork is pretty great. It is nice to have a modern looking Ys game. It fits right in line with most other anime based, or anime inspired games. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA does use a variety of cutscenes, however, which I find to be inconsistent. I know it was a art style or design choice but I really do feel it detracts from the game. Sometimes you get the full 3D in engine cutscenes with voice overs, than other times you get these amazing anime cutscenes, and then you get the very boring still image scenes that often have no voice acting at all. Usually these scenes are flashbacks, or dreams. It doesn’t change the fact it feels like they tried to do to much at once and didn’t get all the scenes finished. Now I doubt that is the case but that is how it feels. Regardless the rest of the anime scenes, the 3D cutscenes, and the gameplay graphics are pretty well done.

The sound work was pretty spot on as well. The game having English voice overs was a relief. The voice acting wasn’t terrible – I have heard better, but I have also heard a lot worse. On the plus side I didn’t really have any cringe worthy moments. However Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA manages to do something I absolutely cannot stand. It has voice overs in some parts and then no voice overs in others. Some of the parts where the voice overs are missing really needed them. With those scenes having no voice acting and no animation of any kind I usually skipped them because I lost interest. There are some pretty annoying sound effects in the game at times however. Such as when that damned bird shows up. The sound of it’s wings flapping is so loud over most other effects. Between that and the repetition of the sound it made me want to take a screwdriver to my ear drum. The music sometimes sets the feeling and tone of the game well but other times not so much. I get wanting to create the feeling of high octane moments but it just felt off considering the setting of the game.

The story seems decent. There are some wow moments which keep you interested but the story itself isn’t something to “write home about”. There are times where you find yourself making choices in dialogue but from my experiences they have no real effect. They just serve as a here and now aspect of getting some sort of control over how your character comes across to others. Most of the story is finding the various survivors to add new mechanics to the game or enter new areas, but as I said the story is not without it’s few shining moments that surprise you. There are some lewd moments in the story, or just some childish humor. For instance there is a five minute cutscene where the three player characters are figuring out a place to setup camp. It ends up just being one of the characters farting a lot and making fart jokes while another one of the characters chooses where she sleeps in the cave for the night but then changes her mind because of “wind flow”.

The more in depth mechanic is the “progression” system. I say “progression” because short of just killing everything over and over for materials, and spamming your abilities there doesn’t seem to be any sort of skill tress or job system within the game. You do feel your character get stronger as you level up and get new skills or stat gains. Each time you use an ability it gains a form of experience as well and the ability itself can improve. You get to slot 4 abilities so choosing what you use is important. You can also find books or items while exploring to grant new skills. The other part of the progression is just the upgrading or crafting of new items. Make a sword, upgrade it to rank 1, 2, 3 and so on. Rinse and repeat with each new item.

There is also a fast travel system. This is based on exploration. When you find points of interest and camps while exploring you can use the map to teleport back to them. I didn’t realize this was in the game until I was forced to use it. I kind of went off on my own path for awhile. I assume doing things in an exact order you might find the fast travel mechanic sooner than later. When I found out about the fast travel is also when the game told me to go back to base camp for some sort of emergency. When I arrived I was told of a new type of game content. Ever so often you will get a pop up to return back to base to defend the camp. Upon doing so you are put into a wave based survival mode where you are meant to protect nodes and stop the monsters from breaching the city or destroying the nodes. Not getting hit, doing the waves faster, or using certain combat mechanics can raise your score. At the end of the events you get rewarded based on your score. This was a good feature that breaks the adventure and adds immersion. I mean you are on a hostile, cursed island. Of course you should have to protect your camp. I greatly enjoyed this mechanic.

Now to the best part of the game. The boss fights! There are many, many bosses in the game. Each of them unique and very fun to fight. The harder difficulty you play on the more fun they get. The boss encounters of the series “almost” remind me of more recent action RPGs such as Dark Souls, or The Surge. Of course if you play on easy you won’t really get that sentiment. The bosses were very very fun to do. I am not sure if you get to re-fight bosses or not but that would be a fun addition to the game. If nothing else this game is worthy of the purchase simply because of how fun, and how many bosses there are in the game. Plus it isn’t a short game by any means!

Pros
5 minute cutscene/dialogue that concludes with one of the characters farting and another contemplating the locations of where they sleep.
Good voice acting.
Fun, engaging combat.
Lots of fun/cool looking bosses.

Cons
Only half voiced.
On normal difficulty the bosses are to easy. (Play on Hard).
Some very annoying sound effects. Like the parrot’s wing flapping.
Memory/dream cutscenes are lacking.

Draul gives Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA a Drastik Measure 8.5 out of 10 (85)

The game releases in 10 days from now and I fully support this game. It is worth the purchase. It is one of the better “anime” RPGs I have played so far. Plus there is going to be some free dlc on launch day. Wish I could of had them while I played but it is cosmetic stuff. I’m sure there will be some dlc at some point requiring purchases. I don’t really agree with DLC but so long as it is content worthy then that is fine. Spending $14.99 and getting an hour of content is something I am not okay with. As for Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA it is a fairly lengthy game as is. Pick it up, and let us know what you think!

http://ysviii.com/
https://www.playstation.com/en-us/games/ys-viii-lacrimosa-of-dana-ps4/

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