• The Ys series has a long and storied history, mostly of changing development, publishing, and localization hands per installment. When XSEED managed to get their turn, they held on to the licensing right tenaciously for years. Alas, all good things must come to an end eventually, as Falcom seeks other partners to hopefully make better returns. Now with YS VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, the publisher and localization team has shifted to NISA. And while the result is good, it seems that the team at NISA played it a little too safe with the localization. Thankfully, Ys VIII is great where it true strengths lie though, in it’s gameplay. And this new adventure is likely the best that the series has ever had.

    The story starts off with the series hero, Adol, working as a sailor(finally, this slacker got a real job!)as both a means of payment for his travel fare, and a means of going to new lands. I swear that boy’s an adventure-holic. After making the rounds to make sure there isn’t any suspicious activity going on, he reports to the Captain, only for the ship to be attacked moments later by a giant squid, and despite his best efforts, is thrown overboard along with the rest of the passengers. Man, Adol really just needs to fly next time. He has a history with boats. Anyway, as always, Adol miraculously survives, but ends up stranded on a mostly deserted island. After conveniently finding a rusty sword to use as a temporary weapon, he meets up with a few of the ship’s other survivors. And from there, the game largely becomes a search and rescue/gather materials to escape adventure. Although it becomes something bigger once Adol realizes his strange dreams turn out to be vision quests where you take the role of a young woman named Dana from centuries ago, whose actions in the past affect the present. The link between the two play into eventually leads to Dana becoming a player character in the present. But in the past, Dana is all by herself. While the Vita version doesn’t have the extra content of the PS4 version, Dana gets some past-exclusive gameplay. Since she’s by herself, she can switch forms to fight enemies that have weakness to certain types of damage like slash,thrust, and pierce. The story in the game is pretty standard fare, but it’s likely the largest amount of narrative that has also received considerable care in it’s execution. At the very least, the story is better than Ys 7’s bland affair.

    In terms of gameplay, it’s more or less an extension from Ys Seven and Memories of Celceta. Adol can slash enemies or use SP to pull off skills that damage enemies various ways. You can still also pull off EX skills that really put the hurt on your foes. The Flash Move and Flash Guard from Celceta also return, but this time control and timing these counter moves are easier than ever. If you do a Flash Move, the game’s dodge roll at the right time before an enemy hits you, you basically get a brief moment of bullet time to get a few hits on the enemy, and Flash Guarding completely blocks an attack while temporarily granting critical hits. The new things in this game would be the ability to sprint to move across the map even faster than ever before, which you’ll need, as these environments are pretty large despite the segmentation of the map. Thankfully Falcom also decided to not foolishly tie sprinting to any arbitrary stamina system like so many other developers. Enemies also still operate under a weakness triangle most of the time, so switching to one of your other party members may be necessary when the AI isn’t attacking quickly enough. The PS4 version of the game plays better than the Vita version due to the game running at a near constant 60 frames. At times the game will suffer some dips due to bad frame pacing while on at least a standard PS4. There’s also additional controls that make the game easier to play, like the ability to access the item and adventure gear menus with L2 and R2. The Vita game on the other hand will use the touchscreen to make up for some of these functions, but it’s a bit less eloquent. The framerate of the Vita version is slower at 30 FPS, but the frame pacing is a bit more consistent, and a side benefit in it’s favor is that gauging when to pull off Flash Moves or Guards becomes easier. Material collection also returns, but since you are on an island, you’ll be using these materials exclusively to make new weapons, equipment, and items. So despite the basics of combat being the same, the dynamics surrounding the gameplay are significant to make it different enough to feel fresh.

    The game is a great experience no matter which platform you choose, and it encourages players to fully explore the Seiren Islands. Side-quests, map completion, and a new Tower Defense/Offense modes like Interception and Suppression are also nice diversions which also play into being able to get a true ending for doing most of them. Also, almost every castaway fulfills a unique function to the village by providing a specific service, and Falcom also injects a bit of the mechanics from Trails of Cold Steel to further flesh out these characters and the rest of the game itself, all to it’s benefit. Warping between save crystals is nice, but you can also warp back to the village at anytime the game goes south. And it will, since some of the dinosaurs you’ll be fighting can be pretty tough, especially when you engage in the Night Searches of the PS4 version, where the field of vision is poor and the number of enemies gets significantly higher. But if you want to take a break from fighting, you can always relax with fishing. Ys VIII is likely the best YS game following The Oath in Felghana, but it still has a few issues keeping it from completely succeeding it. NISA has chosen to play it safe with the game’s localization in a number of ways. The scripting for the game is a bit on the dry side, with this being most reflected in the voiced dialog. The voice actors themselves are good picks, but when you have the script being what it is, without proper voice direction, the actors just feel like they are reading the lines as is, without the characterization people have come to expect from XSEED’s efforts. The script itself is serviceable, but the overall feeling is one of ‘It’s 2017, and I know that NISA can do better than this’. It seems all of their dubbing energy goes right into Disgaea, which leaves them little room for anything else. At least players will eventually have the option of downloading a Japanese voice track as DLC later on. But there are some other strange things about the translation, like the naming of a location as the Archeozoic Big Hole, instead of something that sounds less silly like, ‘The Ancient Scar’ or something. Another thing to note is the lack of extra content in the Vita version. Even after the PS4 versions release, there was never a title update or DLC to bring it to the level of the upscaled game. As a result, the game lacks any cross-save ability. So what the version choice you’ll be making boils down to whether or not you are willing to sacrifice frames and content for portability. But regardless of which format that you choose, YS VIII is still a rock-solid action RPG experience worth getting.

    Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana - Review
    A great follow up to Memories in Celceta, although it has a few quirks that keep it from a perfect score.
    Our Score9.5
    Positives
    • Slashing monsters has never been more fun.
    • The game has the biggest world that any YS has ever been host to.
    Negatives
    • The script is somewhat dry, and the voice acted delivery reflects this.
    9.5Overall Score
    Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
    0.0

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