Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA Review – A Mystery on Mystery Island

I’ve never played an Ys game before so when the opportunity came for me to review the latest game: Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, I eagerly took on the challenge. I really didn’t know what to expect and I was curious how this RPG was able to go on despite other competitions in the genre. But when I started playing the game, I could not stop playing it anymore.

Platform Reviewed: PS4
Platforms Available: PS4, PS Vita, PC
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Publisher: Nihon Falcom, Nippon Icchi Software
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Price: $59.99
This review is based on a review copy provided by the publishers.

The game is all about Adol, a young adventurer who finds himself stranded in the mysterious island of Seiren. Adol and his trustworthy sidekick Dogi connects all the Ys games as each game tells about all of his adventures and his attempts to save the world time and time again. This time is no different as Adol gets thrusted into a mysterious world after the ship he was on got shipwrecked.

You initially start the game alone but along the way you meet several of the survivors from the wrecked ship. It is interesting how the survivors you meet have a specific skill they are good at which becomes useful when you start building your castaway village. With Captain Barbaross, who is the captain of the ship Lombardia, leading the charge and with your help, you try to build a village suitable for living . Everyone you encounter on the island becomes a vital part of your village as they become the smiths, the shop owners and all other jobs that they are good at.

It was really fun trying to find all the castaways. Each had their own unique backstories and how they all ended up in the ship and survived the shipwreck. There was even a character who came from a previous game that somehow ended up on the ship as well. These characters sometimes gives you quests that will increase their approval. The higher the approval of a character, the more that they will help you out during battle encounters called Interceptions and Suppressions.

Speaking of these battle encounters, Interceptions and Suppressions are battle encounters that happens at Castaway Village’s outskirts and the surrounding areas. Intercetions happens in Castaway Village’s beach and mountains and is basically a wave of monsters trying to attack the village. Your party will be in one location while the rest of the village will fight in the other. The interception ends when you kill all of the monsters from each wave or when the monsters destroy the barricade and get inside the village. Suppression on the other hand is an encounter where your party is raiding into the nests that the enemies created destroying them all before they populate the whole area.

While the others opt to support you by selling and trading stuff some others become your allies in your quest to find as many survivors as possible. Each ally also has a particular expertise when it comes to the weapons that they wield. This is important because you can switch to any of your two allies during battle. Making the combat very strategic and fun.

Speaking of combat, the combat in this game reminds me a lot of games like Dark Cloud, and Tales of Destiny. Combats are real time and each of your characters have skills that you can unleash upon the enemies. Using a skill frequently increases its levels and you can max it up until level three. After a certain period of time, you can learn new abilities  while some of the abilities can be acquired by reading up books or fighting against an NPC that you will encounter later in the game.

Combat is really intense and action packed and I just love how it really gives you the freedom to take action. Controls are also very responsive but the mapping can be a bit of a problem because the way the controls are mapped, you will accidentally unleash the EXTRA skill. This is because the L1 button is used to dash and run fast while the R1 button is used to block and use your skills. So if you come out of a dash and try to use a skill simultaneously it will unleash the EXTRA skill instead which is triggered by holding both L1 and R1. And yes, you need to hold each button down if you wanted to dash or use a skill.

Your party’s weapons can be upgraded later on once you discover the smith. How it works is that you gather items from defeated enemies and from harvest points on the island and then use them to augment your weapons. You can also craft armor and accessories and even mix potions and cook food. You also have a farm where you can plant seeds and harvest from. There are also costumes that you can tailor to change the appearance of your characters. One of my favorite accessories was the clingy pikkard which is this cute little furball that looks like a groundhog and this little guy just clings on to your character’s arm.

One other feature that I find unique was the addition of Adventure gears. These items help your character have an easier way to access certain areas of the game. It can be anything to gloves that can help you climb vines or a magical items that helps you breathe underwater. At the beginning you will only be able to use one gear at a time but you later on you will find books that will increase the gear slots.

While the adventure gear helps you in most cases to access certain areas, there will be times that you will encounter places that you can’t access because of a boulder or a bridge that got collapsed. When this happens, the only thing you can do is ask help from your villagers. Each roadblock has a certain amount of villagers needed to clear them out, so the more villagers you get, the more roadblocks that you can clear out. I really took the time to find them all because I didn’t really want to leave anyone behind. It was worth it in the end.

Aside from the main plot and trying to save the world from imminent destruction, there are a lot of other things to do in the island. And even when there’s a lot to take in, the game presents them in a way that is not too overwhelming or not all at once. That’s what I like most about this game. It lets you discover things gradually making you settle in and get acquainted with what you currently have and then introduce other elements later on.

I also like how once you visit a place and touch a crystal, which serves as a checkpoint for the game, you can then be able to teleport from one location to another. It is also very convenient how you can teleport right back to the Castaway Village anytime. And later on in the game, you can even teleport to Location Points on the island. Location Points are unique locations in the game that’s similar to tourist spots. They are visually beautiful places that makes you forget even for awhile that you are in a vicious world of beasts that are trying to kill you.

Aside from the island life and the many wonders it brings you, there is another lifetime that you can explore. This is where Dana comes in, the girl from the past that keeps showing up in Adol’s dreams. A so-called Maiden of the Tree that sees visions of an imminent future. At some point in the game, Adol encounters crystals that has markings and when he touched it, the game transports you into Dana’s time. Dana will then have to accomplish certain tasks that will affect the landscape and help Adol and his party move forward.

Dana is an excellent fighter with her dual blades and is very capable on her own. To compensate the fact that she’s all alone in the past fighting enemies, she saves some fairies that gives her abilities to shift into different Battle Styles. She can shift into two other Battle Styles that becomes useful to her as she traverses the island. One battle style grants her the ability to see invisible enemies and be able to defeat them. While the other battle style grants her the ability to knock down big boulders. I really loved playing as Dana and her battle special effects were just a wonder to behold.

I don’t want to give away too much about the other features of the game because it is more fun to discover them on your own. Just like I had fun uncovering everything about the game. The game was very entertaining from beginning to end that I never really had a dull moment. The story progressed fairly and it didn’t feel like they were dragging it on too much.

This was my first Ys game and I can truly say that I would love to play the other ones to see if they offer the same kind of caliber when it comes to features and gameplay. And I’m hoping to find out what other adventures Adol has gone on to. If you’re a person who loves action RPG and likes the survival island life simulation, then this game is definitely for you.

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA - Review
Score Definition
When the issues of a game are rolled and stomped by its greatness, then it’s something to invest on if you have some spare.
Beautiful narrative
Crafting and costumes
Clashing Controller Layout
Outdated graphics
Can get grindy