Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA Review

Ys VIII brings the vast world of YS, with everyone’s favorite adventurers, Adol and Dogi.   A brand new adventure for the first time in 8 years!

The game starts you off with a beautiful in-game cutscene aboard a passenger ship named the Lombardia.   

Ys VIII

There you will learn that Adol and Dogi are aboard as crew members to gain passage from Xandria to Eresia.   While aboard this stunning ship that seems a lot bigger on the inside than from the outside…You go about your duties, talking with guests, doing some errands, and talking with the Captain about a cursed island called Seiren.

Captain Barborosa ( I kept on reading Barbosa every time I saw his name…), recalls of tales about a huge sea monster rising from the depths to attack anyone who gets too close to the island. 

After you finish up your errands, the Captain wants to speak with you again.   You head to his cabin, where after a brief chat, with him mentioning you are near Seiren, you are interrupted by a sudden stop.  Not many things can stop she this large, so the Captain tries to see what happened through the voice pipe.  A crew member comes in and says the ship is being attacked!

Adol and the Captain run out to the deck and see giant tentacles surrounding the boat!  Is this the sea monster that you heard about?  Dogi throws you your sword and after a brief tutorial and fight, you think you fended it off and another huge attack comes and the screen goes black!

You find yourself on a beach, stripped of everything.  As you walk around, you find a sword on a beach that you can use to defend yourself.  You then start off in any direction to find out what happened. 

The game looks amazing on the Switch, both docked and undocked. 

When docked, I find it hard to distinguish it from its other versions, those being for the PS4 and Xbox One.   I have experienced only two frame slowdowns in my 25+ hours of playing the game.   Those times happen when I have done an EXTRA Skill while 6 or 7 enemies were on the screen and my teams were all doing attacks.  Otherwise, no slow down, either docked or undocked.  

My review copy of the game only came with English voice acting, and so did the release copy.  A few days ago, NIS America released an update that fixed some minor bugs as well as added Japanese voice acting to the game as a free update.  A welcome addition, especially for free.  They could have charged for it but they didn’t. This is why NIS America is one of the top publishers in my book.  here was no press release to announce this, at least we did not get any.  You can also have greater control over the voice options.  You can turn off character voices mid-battle, in the overworked when you are exploring and in cutscenes. 

To keep the frame rate steady, they would only animate keyframes of enemies to distant objects instead of having them pop in when you get closer.   This makes the immersion feel a lot better overall. 

There are six playable characters in the game, with Adol and Dana being the main characters.  The other party characters are in order of appearance: Laxia, Sahad, Hummel, and Ricotta.  

(Hover over or Click to see a quick bio)

The combat system is an open battle system where you don’t go into a separate battle sequence when engaging an enemy.  You can easily fight one enemy after another in a dungeon, forest or in the overworld.  You can also just run away if you do not feel like fighting.    It is quite fun and fluid, and the camera never becomes an issue.

You can have a total of 3 party members out at a time and easily switch between them using the ‘Y’ button.   This helps in combat as certain enemies are weak to certain types of attack.  There is Slash, Strike, and Pierce.   Adol and Dana or Slash, Laxia and Hummel or Pierce, and Sahad and Ricotta or Strike.  

Slash is typically used for the basic enemy. Enemies that are not weak against Strike or Pierce fall into this attack type.  

Strike is for enemies that are armored or are resisting damage to any other attack.  These tend to be crabs, giant bugs, or anything with a shell.  Highest damage output. 

Pierce is typically good at stunning enemies as well as clipping the wings of your aerial foes.  Overall less damage but makes up for it in speed.

Each member of the party can equip up to four skills.   These are mapped to the ABXY buttons when pressing R.  There is also a shared AP and EXTRA meter.  The blue meter allows you to execute one of four attack skills.  Each character has different skills and these can level up the more you use them. They will also learn new skills during the course of the story and in battle.   

The bigger yellow meter allows you to execute an Extra skill that is also unique to each character.    You can initiate this by pressing both L and R buttons at the same time.   The downside to this is that I have accidentally triggered an EXTRA skill multiple times because of the button placement.   That could just be me, so your experience may be different. 

The areas in YS VIII are very diverse and no two areas have felt the same.

There are certain safe areas where you can set up camp if you would like and heal up the party.  They are typically found where these giant purple-ish crystals are in the areas.  These crystals heal everyone up to 100% and remove any negative status effects.  The game also autosaves at this point and if you fall in battle, this is where you will have an option to return to.   The game supports autosaving as well as allowing you to save really at any time besides boss fights. So save often. 

There is a base building aspect of the game where the rest of the survivors live called Castaway Village.  It is a nice side adventure as you get quests from the bulletin board in the Village.  Mostly, you will complete these by defeating enemies during the story or just exploring.  Completing quests also allows your approval rating to go up with the residents of the village. This usually allows you to can more of a stat.  Be it, HP, attack, defense, or virtue.  

As you rescue more and more survivors, you fill it out with a blacksmith, item, potion, armor, and cloth shop.   These places allow you to buy or upgrade new gear, purchase all different kinds of medicine or get rare materials by exchanging for common materials.  This allows you to complete certain tasks without having to go out and explore everywhere.

The village will occasionally be raided by monsters. When this happens, Paro will alert you and you have to rush back to the village to defend it from the oncoming onslaught!!  These raids give you a lot of experience points and rare items depending on your rank at the end. 

There are various areas in the world where fallen trees block the area, bridges are destroyed, landslides or giant rocks.   When you encounter these areas you can call for help and the villagers will come and help you.  

When you examine the area you want to clear away, it will tell you how many villagers you need. If you don’t have enough, you need to come back later.  Some of these are needed to continue on with the story, or in hard to reach places, so rescue as many as possible!

The game’s story is fun and well done.  It keeps me wanting to come back and find out what is next. 

This game is an amazing and welcome addition to the Ys VIII catalog of games.  I’d say its a definite must play for any JRPG fans and you do not need to know what happened in previous games to play this one.   While it is a bonus, you will not feel lost. 

A definite must-have.