Saturday, December 2, 2017

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana ~ Review in Progress

Nihon Falcom's latest entry in the Ys series was met with mixed reactions. At base level it seemed to be accepted widely among the NISA RPG fan community as a decent action RPG experience, but was later revealed to have some localization flaws. NISA was quick to address this issue with an official apology which can be found on the official website. Since that apology the localization team has been working on making things right. I commend them for their efforts ...

Ys VIII, for those of you like me who have yet to play it fully, will find that it is it's own standalone story. It can be played without having to play the previous Ys installments. The story this time around follows the misadventures of adventurer Adol Christin, and his seafaring comrade Dogi. They hitched a ride on the Lombardia in order to find their next adventure. Recruited as part of the crew they eventually meet headfirst with mythical presence of a cursed island known as Seiren, and it's Kraken-like guard. This turns Adol, and the accompanying crew of the Lombardia unwillingly into castaways on Seiren. It is here Adol gets drawn into a fantastical world involving a mysterious girl he begins seeing in his dreams. Between the fight to get off the island, and to find the Lombardia's shipmates Adol, and his joining party must fight off beasts as they try to figure out what is behind the curse of Seiren.

The mechanics in the game seem to be borrowed form earlier Ys games, and in particular one of the Ys games I reviewed on the PS Vita. That Ys entry being, "Ys: Memories of Celceta". Returning for sure are the evasion mechanics in the form of a Flash Guard, and Flash Evade which are basically timed damage escapes, or parries. They open up opportunities to more easily damage the lesser, and greater beasts of Seiren. Also included in the battle mechanics are assignable skills and an Extra Skill. The skills being equated to special attacks, and the Extra Skill being an ultimate attack that uses the building up of the skill meter via skill usage. Outside of that there is the party system in which you can switch between characters to negate damage, or to utilize their specific abilities/weapons in an advantageous means.

Traveling across the isle of Seiren is not only a must in Adol's situation, but is also part of his duties as an appointed cartographer. Captain Barbaros who was also stranded with Adol appointed Adol as the map maker, and thus as you travel Adol will map the island of Seiren. This includes marking crystal warp points for fast travel as well as items, and points of interest. Reporting back to your island base of operations will often times be necessary to forward the chapter based plot, and this can be done instantly via the 'OPTIONS ' map once the save crystals you come into contact with both out on the field, and in dungeons are located. Beyond the fast travel you will be transitioning through sectioned off areas on foot that are filled with beasts, items, and treasure. Searching on foot to some extent is a must if you want to make it far as characters level up in battle, and gain gear/weapons through treasure hunts.

A playthrough of Ys VIII is sectional, and chapter based with cutscenes applied in the form of of both anime visuals and in-game cinematics. Often times going to a certain location, or talking to a certain character will trigger an event. You do have multiple choice answers to many questions characters will ask you, and the applied answer will often times alter the involved characters' reply. Also to note is the named Zelda-like boss battles with named beasts that attack in given patterns. Sometimes it is the boss fights that will also advance the given plot. Applying proper in, and out battle tactics, and utilizing your party members properly will mean the difference between victory, and a game over. Supposing Adol does die in battle he will be revived at the last save crystal. Thus it is imperative that you locate, and activate the save crystals before facing pivotal moments. You can also save via the 'OPTIONS' menu in the 'Settings' listing.

From what I've played so far 'Ys VIII:Lacrimosa of Dana' is a pleasant,and lighthearted action RPG experience that stays true to it's roots. It's challenging, but mostly fair, and comes with multiple difficulty settings all the way to "Inferno" making the experience as harrowing or enjoyable as you wish. I like the story, the characters, and the fact that the game is a standalone experience. I kind of wish the control scheme wasn't as awkward as it is, but thankfully that can be tweaked via 'Button Config' settings. I kind of also find the amount of choices in the many conversations to be a bit too much at times, and somewhat unnecessary. That is my verdict thus far.

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