Wednesday, 23 May 2018 12:00

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA Review

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Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is an action RPG that features interesting characters and an intriguing story. You play as Adol, an adventurer who served as a temporary sailor on a boat before it sank. Your goal at the outset is to explore the mysterious Isle of Sieren, finding other castaways that were aboard.

The depths of this game and its multitude of areas inspires awe.

There’s plenty to explore and plenty of people to meet. The combat is fluid but can be unforgiving if your timing isn’t perfect, but this is what makes it rewarding. There’s some customization, crafting and upgrading equipment, and you can level your skills by usage. While there were a few bugs here and there, none were serious or lasted long.

As you rescue more people, they join your camp and perhaps your party as well. Some who join your camp might offer a valuable service or construct a useful facility from tailoring accessories and clothing to enhancing your weapons. Fulfilling requests posted on the bulletin board offers rewards and increased approval from that individual.

The arrival of new people not only brings more dynamics into the relationships of these castaways and provides a few instances of hilarity in the dialogue (particularly when Laxia is involved) but also incentivizes you to uncover more of the island and rescue more characters. The services they offer are helpful, but, depending on which difficulty you’re playing, not always necessary. Their mere presence provides the sense that the camp is noticeably expanding and becoming livelier — their inclusion isn’t arbitrary. There’s more to do once they join.

Ys VIII offers several difficulties to test your mettle and experience with this genre, from easy to inferno. Besides the camp facilities that strengthen your equipment or provide you with better items, you may find useful gear as you explore. You may also grind enemies to level or farm for resources to create better loot. If a boss proves too tricky, you have multiple options to bolster your party and take down formidable foes with ease.

At times, waves of beasts attempt to invade your village, and you must defend it.

These events (raids) aren’t always available, but you may practice them after you unlock this event to refine your strategies. Not only are these raids fun, having to strategize and defend lures and barricades for higher points and ranking, but they also offer rewards depending on how well you perform. People you’ve found and brought into your camp help out with support skills; the higher their approval rating, the more powerful their skills. It’s always nice to see such systems (approval ratings, friendship levels, etc.) have a practical use in a title, although I know I aim to max these levels out either way.

You can craft and forage for healing items. Depending on how often you use them, you’ll likely accumulate a stockpile. There are also crystals scattered about that restore your crew to full health. If you stand still outside of a dungeon, you can regain HP. If necessary, just find a safe spot to rest before going back into the action. Enemies can hit hard, so your stock of restoration foods and potions are necessary. At times, you must judge whether you should weather out a skirmish if you think it’s almost over, use a potion or food item (and a quick use menu ensures you’re safe while searching through your inventory), or flee.

The combat rewards players who can dodge and block perfectly.

If you evade an attack just before it connects, you activate a Flash Move, granting you invincibility and increased movement speed for a short duration. Well-timed guards activate a Flash Guard, which not only negates the damage but also increases your critical damage. Mastering timing is crucial to surviving and can mean the difference between leaving a skirmish unscathed and barely escaping with half your health or less. Locking onto an enemy and learning its strike patterns are handy. Of course, you may always employ guerrilla tactics and close in when the moment is right.

If you want to take a break from fighting, you may find a water source (of which there are plenty) and fish. This feature is quite straightforward, and besides providing you with a way to spend time, you also obtain materials. If you’re lucky, you might haul in a treasure chest or stumble across rare fish that are quite difficult to catch, but worth the struggle. In your Journal, there’s a fishing log that records statistics such as total fish caught, record lengths, and what various fish drop. Your Journal offers a quick reference to other useful information, such as details of quests, approval ratings, enemy drops and where you can find them, and more.

Almost no bugs.

Each time I brought up the Steam overlay menu, the sides of the application were distorted. Bringing up the map and closing it again rectified this issue. There are some weird visual glitches sometimes, but nothing major.


The Verdict: Great

Ys VIII is a fantastic action RPG with interesting characters and an intriguing story, which provides countless hours of exploration and banter.

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Chris Hubbard

A fan of RPGs above other genres, Chris has been playing video games for as long as he can remember. Some of the games that had the most influence on his gaming preferences have been the Final Fantasy and the Diablo series. More recently, most of Chris' gaming time has been going toward Gems of War and Clicker Heroes (give it a try, it can be addicting), along with open-world RPGs such as Skyrim and ESO. He's also dabbled with RPG Maker software, and it is a goal of his to someday create an RPG.