Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana – Easy Allies Review

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana – Easy Allies Review

It takes quite a while to appreciate
the full breadth of Ys VIII.
The game’s numerous systems
are metered out thoughtfully,
with just enough space between them.
These various systems
are all elegantly contextualized,
taking full advantage
of the mysterious island
where events take place.
With many action RPGs, it can be easy
to focus on the mechanical side of things,
getting sucked into the loop
of acquiring new gear, skills, and items.
The world becomes a means to an end,
serving as little more than a backdrop
for character progression.
This doesn’t happen in Ys VIII.
Discovering new locations,
scouring for treasure,
and running from monstrous beasts
are every bit as enjoyable
as fighting and getting stronger.
Ys VIII knows that it’s easier to invest
in the evolution of your characters
if the space they exist in
is worth getting attached to.
Uncovering that world does take some time,
since the story starts rather slowly.
Series protagonist Adol Christin is sailing
aboard a ship named the Lombardia
with longtime companion Dogi in tow.
The ship is wrecked
by an enormous sea monster,
scattering Adol, Dogi,
and the rest of the passengers
across the vast
and mysterious island of Seiren.
Initially appearing to be
an idyllic paradise,
the island turns out to have a wide array
of vicious creatures both large and small.
Ys VIII takes this theme
of being shipwrecked
and uses it to enhance
expected RPG features.
Adol starts out with practically nothing,
and only by finding other lost passengers
is he able to form a crew capable
of building a village for protection.
By taking a piecemeal approach,
Ys VIII is able to add a snippet
of personality to shopkeepers.
You come to know
and appreciate them a bit more,
and it promotes the idea that thorough
exploration will be immensely rewarded,
a concept the game reinforces
time and time again.
For every ten percent
of the map you explore,
you’ll receive items in return.
Upgrading weapons, completing side quests,
and mixing medicine
all require materials found
in different places throughout the world.
Blocked pathways need
a certain number of villagers to clear,
which means the area around you
evolves in tandem
with your central hub of operations.
Regardless of what you’re doing,
all of these activities
tightly feed into one another.
Ys VIII not only gives players a lot to do
but finds clever ways
of giving objectives meaning
and making sure
that one activity influences another.
The same philosophy of breadth
applies to combat as well.
Players have up
to three party members at a time
and can switch between any of them
Different characters
have different attack attributes,
either “slash”, “hit”, or “shoot”.
Enemies are generally weak
to one of three styles
and greatly resist the others.
By exploiting a weakness,
an enemy enters the “break” state,
becoming especially vulnerable.
Group battles are often composed
of enemies with varied weaknesses,
and specific environments
will have more of one type than another.
The result is that you’ll constantly
have to switch between characters
in order to get through fights efficiently,
preventing a reliance on the exact
same approach in every situation.
Skills upset the rhythm even further.
Each character
can equip four skills at a time,
and these skills
tend to focus on a specific trait,
such as area of effect damage,
breaking an enemy quickly,
or afflicting enemies
with some sort of lasting effect.
These elements combined
with new skills and fresh enemies,
keep fights interesting throughout.
At the same time, the systems
are easy to understand and execute,
striking a fine balance
between simplicity and depth.
The most difficult maneuvers to pull off
are Flash Guard and Flash Move,
but they offer the biggest gains.
A Flash Guard is performed by blocking
a strike at the last possible second
and for a brief time,
all of your attacks become critical hits.
A Flash Move works similarly,
but the player must dodge instead of guard.
When executing a Flash Move,
time slows down,
allowing you to quickly get behind enemies
or pummel away at them with little danger.
Both techniques blend in
with the frantic pace of combat.
Everything moves so quickly in Ys VIII,
yet it’s never visually overwhelming.
Enemy attacks always remain very readable,
so with enough patience,
even the fiercest enemy
can be dodged and parried with ease.
There’s a flow to combat
that’s easy to adapt to over time.
The chaos of battle is perfectly accompanied
by the electric soundtrack,
which proudly features shredding guitars
that dramatically heighten the intensity.
Other, quieter tracks
offer a whimsical and relaxing tone
that fits the tropical setting.
The pace of the game changes so regularly
it’s almost as if it’s paranoid
about things getting stale.
Periodically, your village
will come under attack,
prompting you to return
to fend off waves of enemies.
These fights can be made easier if you spend
resources to upgrade defenses beforehand,
which adds yet another thing to consider
while amassing precious materials.
During interception missions,
you’ll be graded on performance
broken down by various factors,
which is a quick and helpful way
to judge the player’s current proficiency.
There are also night missions
which return players to previous areas,
but with more difficult
and numerous enemies.
Just when you’re about to tire
of one activity,
the game throws in something new,
yet none of these things take very long,
serving as breaks rather than annoying
obstacles to story progression.
Where Ys VIII stumbles
is in its script and characterization.
Although the story
does take unexpected turns,
the dialogue is occasionally
stilted and dry.
It doesn’t help that the characters
are a bit shallow themselves.
There’s a stuck up noblewoman,
a gruff but honest fisherman,
and a mysterious sharpshooter of few words
who comes and goes as he pleases.
While none of these archetypes
are inherently bad,
the cast rarely strays outside of them,
so while characters do develop over time,
they do so in the most predictable ways.
We always found ourselves
wishing we cared a little more
about what was going on
than we actually did.
While the narrative
doesn’t especially resonate,
the rest of the game very much succeeds.
In other RPGs,
extraneous features and side activities
feel like they exist
merely to tick off expected boxes,
but in Ys VIII, they serve
a much more significant purpose.
There’s a cohesiveness to everything
that makes
the individual components stronger
than they would be by themselves.
Ys VIII ends up being so enjoyable
because of how thoughtfully
most of its pieces
are considered and implemented.
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38 thoughts on “Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana – Easy Allies Review

  • January 6, 2018 at 9:37 am

    Recycle gameplay like VII eh.

  • January 12, 2018 at 12:17 am

    Who's watching this now that this was announced for Switch?

  • January 12, 2018 at 4:15 am

    A simpler Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Good, I'm getting it for the Switch.

  • January 12, 2018 at 10:13 pm

    Do you need to play any previous games for the story to make sense?

  • January 13, 2018 at 2:30 am

    Can someone compare and contrast Ys viii to botw and the xenoblade series? Gonna get it anyway but I'm curious

  • January 13, 2018 at 10:20 am

    Ew don't compare this to xenoblade 2. This looks bad and cheap.

  • January 13, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    Im getting this for my switch

  • January 23, 2018 at 10:21 pm

    Normally wouldnt touch this kind of game but Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has blow my tiny little mind and turned me around on JRPGs. Im in!

  • April 5, 2018 at 6:45 am

    Y's has always had one of the best soundtracks to

  • April 13, 2018 at 2:58 am

    I can't wait till this drops on the switch!

  • April 18, 2018 at 8:16 pm

    Excellent game, since playing the first Ys 1 around 20 years ago, the one that came out in 1987 and all the consecutive ones up until Ys 7 and Celceta never would i have imagined in my wildest dreams that this franchise could reach these heights 🙂

  • May 5, 2018 at 3:48 am

    5:22 thanks NIS America, at least it was fixed later, but by that time this review was already done with the older translation.

  • May 16, 2018 at 3:40 am

    Its the Gametrailers voice dude!

  • June 19, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    Surprised this review doesn't mention all the translation errors in the text. Random letters that don't make sense, lines that are jumbled, lines that are still in their original Japanese characters… these happen frequent enough that it definitely should have been mentioned.

  • June 25, 2018 at 9:16 pm

    I never even heard of this game series wtf… but ima play this.

  • June 28, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    I know that voice!!!

  • June 30, 2018 at 11:37 am

    hmm should i get this for the switch? or octopath traveler

  • July 2, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    Bought Ys Origin for ps vita and have yet to play it… I want this game. Looks like it would be fantastic for Switch portable play

  • July 14, 2018 at 8:52 am

    Just picked this up for switch after completing xenoblade and wow, YS is absolutely fantastic. Maybe even better than xenoblade

  • July 27, 2018 at 12:13 am

    Totally getting this game.

  • August 22, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    That was an excellent review for what loos like a grand franchise! Going to get started on this series right away.

  • August 27, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    Slash, hit or shoot? It's slashing, smashing and piercing. Basically either slicing an enemy with a sharp weapon, piercing it with a stabbing weapon or bludgeoning it with a blunt weapon.

  • September 14, 2018 at 5:21 am

    Who`s here for the game to be on sale? ps Great review.

  • September 26, 2018 at 8:35 pm

    I'm really happy I'm playing this after Xenoblade…

    I needed a pallette cleanser and a pain reliever

  • October 7, 2018 at 4:52 am

    Good Game.. I like this

  • November 16, 2018 at 10:38 pm

    It's fun and relaxing but the writing definitely is pretty bad. The dialogue especially.

  • December 21, 2018 at 10:36 am

    Looks like a dull psp game. Garbage!!!

  • December 26, 2018 at 1:23 am

    I feel like the game carried this review.

  • January 10, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    Been a fan of Ys since I played Celceta, this game was too damn fun to play on my Vita…

  • January 13, 2019 at 9:52 am

    The music of the game is alsom

  • January 21, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    I played the demo and had alot of fun. I think I might buy it.

  • February 20, 2019 at 10:45 pm

    The gameplay and all looks neat but how good are the story and characters? Is it story heavy? I'm looking for a game to play after DQ11 rn and I need good plot and especially good characters. How does it compare to games like Tales?

  • April 3, 2019 at 6:35 am

    Is this the gametrailers narrator?

  • April 11, 2019 at 10:29 am

    Not available for ps3 because of the cell processor. Thanks for nothing Sony. I am so glad I left you.

  • June 7, 2019 at 10:45 am

    The game is better than an 8. 9 at least. Possibly 9.5

  • August 1, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    The most important aspects of any RPG is the story and the combat. If the story is bad then I will stay far away from this one…

  • August 12, 2019 at 10:23 am

    The best rpg in years. Im hoping the Ys game released in Asia next month gets localised sooner rather than later.

  • August 12, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    Underrated series with one of the best combat system's.


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