Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana Early Review

2017 was quite the year for video games, no matter how you look at it. Between the release of Nintendo Switch, an exciting E3 and huge game releases dropping every other week, it was honestly very hard to keep up. Which is a good thing! 2017 is easily my most memorable and exciting year of gaming in recent memory, but it's making my writing of this year's "top 25 games of the year" quite the challenge. My list is my own personal list, which means it will be based off of the games I've played and experienced for myself, and I can't help but feel guilty about all the games I haven't gotten to yet (including games like Nioh, South Park and Mario Odyssey). However, I'm looking forward to writing about all the games I did play, and one of them is a game with a terrible title; Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana.

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
Nihon Falcom
NA Release September 12th, 2017
PS4 + PS Vita, Microsoft Windows Q1 2018

First things first, "Ys" is apparently pronounced as "eece" like in "fleece", in case you were wondering. Secondly,  I've played very little of the Ys game series, which is important to note because this Ys has a very deep seeded fandom, which is pretty awesome. However, I was never part of it. Typically a game with an "VIII" in its title is part of a long series with a deep and long-standing narrative, which can certainly come off as daunting to a player looking to come in on the eighth installment of said series. I'm happy to say that, despite my own unfamiliarity with the Ys series, Lacrimosa of Dana is incredibly easy to understand and drop into. There are some references here and there to other lands and empires, as well as references to Adol's (the main protagonist) past adventures, but the story never feels bogged down in any sense. In fact it's quite the opposite.

Ys follows a very simple premise, Adol begins the game on a ship, which is capsized by a mysterious creature. Now it's up to Adol and the other castaways to come up with a plan for survival and escape from a mysterious island populated by ferocious beasts. The narrative is kept relatively simple for a while, but eventually things do get much more interesting, but I won't spoil that. As players explore the island they will meet and rescue other castaways, which will add more resources/vendors to the small village the castaways have built. Some rescued castaways even become full-blown party members! While Lacrimosa's narrative is pleasant and avoids being bloated, the gameplay is what compels me to recommend the game to everyone.

There are multiple biomes and distinct areas all over the mysterious isle of Seiren.

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana (man, I hate typing that) is best described as an action JRPG, akin to the "Tales of" series or Xenoblade. Players control a party of three adventurers in real time hack and slash battles. Each character has a unique fighting style, such as Luxia' extremely quick rapier strikes or Sahad's slow yet massive anchor attacks. Each character also has a plethora of skills at their disposal which can be threaded and comboed together. Enemies are susceptible to "breaking" by taking too much damage of a certain attribute, including slashing, piercing and "hitting" (smashing). Broken enemies take more damage from all sources, as well as becoming CCd for a short amount of time. Each character also has an epic "Extra" cinematic special attack, which can lay waste to a pool of enemies or even boss fights. Honestly, Ys 8's combat is everything I look for in an action RPG. Controls are all clean and precise, which always helps make a hack and slash set up flourish, but the surprising level of depth in a simple to pick up combat scheme is refreshing. You can perfectly time dodges or blocks in between the fast paced onslaught to avoid damage and stay on top of the enemy. Combat is just simply fun and just challenging enough to feel rewarding without bogging average players down. It's extremely well crafted.

  "Hummel", one of the early party members brings a bayoneted rifle to the fast paced combat, and it actually works in the formula!  

However, gameplay isn't all combat. As you run around the Isle of Seiren, players can collect a whole mess of resources and ingredients which can be used in a variety of crafting systems. Once rescued, certain castaways can use said resources for things like armor and weapon upgrades, trading for different resources, improving the village's defenses and even costumes! There's even a small farm to help manage! Most importantly...there's fishing!

Fishing in Ys 8 is a very easy (and relaxing) way to get ahead when it comes to materials!

Ultimately, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana will probably go down in history as an underrated gem of 2017. Despite pulling some impressively strong reviews and decent sales numbers, the JRPG is not exactly talked about much. It's to be expected in a year of gaming as potent as 2017, but I'm glad I was able to get into Ys 8. Unfortunately, I don't believe I'm anywhere near completing it, and at my current rate of a few hours a week it might take a while. I'm currently sitting at about 30 hours, but they have been a genuinely relaxing and immersive experience. That being said, spoiler alert, Ys 8 has definitely earned a high spot in my games of the year blog, which will be coming soon!   
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