Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana review
Ys 8: Lacrimosa of Dana review
I went in to Ys VIII completely blind. It was the eighth in a series I’d never actually heard of before but I was itching for a deep JRPG after the likes of Xenoblade 2 on my Switch. What I got was a very unique and dynamic action JRPG, that suffers from some story and graphic problems.
Ys VIII is the latest in a series of JRPGs starring Adol Christian, a self-entitled “Adventurer” as he goes on his many adventures across a world not too different from our own. This one starts off with Adol on a ship to his next adventure when it is beset upon by a giant sea monster and are marooned on the “Isle of Sierne”. The island works as a great thematic way to tell a video game story. The story unfolds as you explore the island and as you find other Castaways of your ship across the island, which leads to more and more stories expanding on each character introduced. It’s a very contained setting, they are stuck there, which leads to only stories that could be told on the island able to be told. The real monkey wrench that makes these stories intriguing is the main characters. The protagonists on the box; Adol and Dana, share a bond through time and space which deepens the mystery. Their story is what had me itching to come back to this game the most. I needed to know why this crazy magic and time bending was going on in this escape the island story.
Combat is a huge reason to play. Ys VIII uses an ATB system. Your normal attacks are swift and your special moves are activated by pressing RT and the face buttons. The action is quick and full of button mashing attacks. Yet they save the action from being mindless by making the enemies very Monster Hunter or Bayonetta, the monsters have set moves and they telegraph them. So if you don’t learn them, to ether evade them or engage them, they will mess you up. The action is not hard but it is unforgiving if you are not good at it.
One of the more interesting parts of Ys VIII is the gameplay loop or how many different types of game play loops there are. The game introduces one by exploring the island, finding locations in and fighting off bosses to quickly introduce raids and hunt, which play as contained wave fights where you could use your materials from all over the island to up your defenses. Then when you just start getting introduced to that they introduce another gameplay loop of quests to max out your other castaways and dungeons.There is plenty to do.
One of my favorite parts is actually the fishing. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I had way too much fun casting out my line and then trying to reel in a gigantic fish. It kind of plays like Ocarina of Time fishing which gave me this nostalgic feel but it also felt modernized. I spent too much playtime trying to catch every fish in the game.
Now the story is where I have a little bit of a problem with the title. It is extremely well formatted and the game finishes at 50 hours and I feel like I had a great time with the mechanics its characters. Yet the story seems a little hodgepodged together. Time travel, dinosaurs, murder mystery and much more. The island is a blessing and a curse in this situation, confining the story and making it feel small. The Lacrimosa seems to only affect the island, it’s not until the end does it even bring up that it might be affecting the rest of the world. Also they kind of rely on the “It’s Magic” excuse too much to explain what’s actually going on. Character-wise, everyone is extremely nice to each other except for two characters which leads to some pretty lame but wholesome interactions. Also at the end their message about Evolution kind of gets muddled in their own RPG elements.
Another big problem with the game is its graphics. There are moments where this game looks great but those are only moments. Most of the game looks like an early PS3 or Xbox 360 game. Even the cut scenes suffer, with cutaways to black to cover them not animating certain movements. Now the game looks a lot better with the patches they’ve been rolling out ever since launch. Yet no patch can make you shake the feeling that this game needed a bigger budget. The character design and the animated sequences that they cut in look great but they look like garbage when they’re put next to the weak 3D graphics. It’s definitely something that didn’t bother me so much but it will be a big problem for graphics snobs. My frame rate was actually quite good throughout the game, the only time it would break down was in really, really heavy boss fights and then it would slow down a little bit but it would usually jump right back to its 30 frames per second.
Now this paragraph I was thinking not including in this but I think I have to talk about it after playing Xenoblade 2, which is a good game to compare it to. A lot of my friends said the Ys combat is what Xenoblade should’ve been. But, the story in Xenoblade was better and if they they combined the two, you’d have best possible product. I’m not saying Ys combat is bad but at 50 hours it did kind of run its course because it’s not that deep. I kind of already did everything I could with the combat and by the end of the game it was just a bunch of numbers on screen I could barely make out what was happening, so it’s more about strategy and game feel. I feel Xenoblade accomplished a lot more with how complex its combat system was, it was cumbersome at the beginning but feels fluid by the end of it. All I’m saying is really that Ys combat is good but it doesn’t have the lasting fun and power of Xenoblade.
If you’re looking for a well formatted, tight and fun action JRPG, Ys is the title for you. It may be a little too upbeat, young adult anime at certain parts of its story but the overall plot is pretty epic and if you like time travel you will find yourself intrigued by the story. The graphics will deter some away from this game but will not even bother others. Don’t be intimidated by the VIII, this is a great place to start with the series and was well worth playing through on my Switch.
7 out of 10
TLDR: Ys 8 is a must for ARPG and JRPG fans but the story and graphics miss the mark.
Spoiler TLDR Review: A Ginger and Blue haired girl fight an evil tree and its dinosaurs
Paid: $49 ($60 retail, 20% off from Best Buy GC)
Play time: Story complete, 50 in game hours.