Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana - PS4 Review

Right now is a great time to be a fan of the Ys series. With just about a simultaneous release of the upgraded Ys Seven for the PC which came out back in 2009, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana takes the concepts that were designed almost a decade ago and takes it all a step further.

I’ll be upfront with the fact that I’ve been able to play both of these titles simultaneously. While not the one reviewing Ys Seven for CGR, that honor goes to Richard, I’ve been able to see just how much change was done between then and now without a nostalgia factor getting in the way. While a lot of smaller things have remained the same, as Seven did change the direction of the series with Adol now having party members, Lacrimosa of Dana has a lot going for it which makes it a great new entry while both being the Ys that everyone knows and loves and something new at the same time.

Lacrimosa of Dana starts off with Adol on a ship as both he and Dogi work as part of the crew in order to pay off their passage instead of paying for it which to them was a great option. Any fan of the series knows what’s about to happen as the word ship was used and it generally doesn’t go very well for our red haired protagonist. Attacked at sea by giant tentacles that can only belong to a Kraken, Adol fends off a few before the ship is capsized and everyone goes overboard. Waking up on a beach, Adol drags himself up in order to find out where he is and if anyone else survived.

From the moment that Adol wakes up on the beach, this is where Ys VIII really starts. Marooned on a cursed island, Adol and those that he finds and brings together are the only thing keeping each other alive. While rumours of giant monsters on the island of Altago are enough to spark Adol’s adventurer’s spirit, they are also enough to scare everyone else that are neither adventurers or warriors. Being a problem for a future time however as this adventure happens before The Ark of Napishtim and Seven, this island that they find themselves on has plenty of large monsters to boot and unfortunately for our survivors, they look like food.

In order to stay alive, this group of survivors are going to have to band together and make due with the resources that can be found throughout the island’s various biomes. There are no “shops” in the traditional sense but there are spaces set up in order for those with the skills necessary to help out in any way that they can. Blacksmithing, alchemy, tailoring and simply trading one resource for another can be done in Castaway Village which acts as the group’s central hub. As long as you have the materials and the person running the shop has the tools, you can upgrade your gear in order to push further to find the others that were less fortunate in where they landed on the island.

From a visual perspective Lacrimosa of Dana is gorgeous. Large well designed environments make up the various regions of the island and for the first time, are explorable in a 3D sense. Adol’s adventure for the first time is not a strict third person isometric view but instead a third person affair which lets you look wherever you want in order to better scope out your surroundings. I’m grateful that a lot of other features are similar to its predecessors because this aspect, especially right after playing Seven, takes some getting used to.

Adol and the rest of the survivors are not the first to be stranded here and in some regards, this is both a blessing and a curse as the others never made it out begging the question if this group can.

*Spoilers… 8 comes before 6 and 7 so at least Adol and Dogi do?*

That little bit aside, skeletons of a pirate gang can be found in various locations sometimes with pieces of equipment that you’ll need in order to move further along in your exploration of the island. Other times, in the good old fashioned fantasy tropes, they are sitting in a treasure chest awaiting the right person to open them! In either way, with all of the upgrades, Ys VIII is still a Ys at its core and you’ll need to find these items that allow you to get past certain obstacles that you may not even know are there at the time. Climbing gloves, glowing rocks and boots to stride across the water will be found when the time is right which is just about the point of you wondering “how the hell do I get over there?”.

There are some exploration elements that have been simplified making it much easier to get started. Almost right off the bat it’s possible for Adol and his party to teleport between all the healing crystals that can be discovered across the island. At first it’s not a very big thing as unlike the previous entries there are no towns to quickly jump between but as you move further and further out you’ll be glad that they were there early especially when your village comes under attack.

After the first instance which is mandatory, the upcoming battles for your village are mostly optional unless it fits in with the current events of the story. Defenses such as lures and barriers are automatically placed however they can be upgraded and added to by talking to Dogi who unfortunately, does not travel the island with you as he’s busy running the village and protecting those who are there. Have you seen his ABS? Definitely not the Dogi I remember! Clearly he stopped going to the gym…

So when you’re called for aid by a parrot who always knows how to find you, the choice becomes yours as to whether or not to continue to explore or head back in order to defend. If you head back simply talk to Dogi in order to get the party started which will bring you to a fortified zone in which the enemies come in waves. From there on out do what you do best with the combination of your party for taking out enemies in a Rock / Paper / Scissor style of Slashing / Piercing / Blunt damages.

The new system that was put into place in Seven and used in Memories of Celceta is still there and works just fine in this newer visual environment. Characters can be switched between instantly never leaving a lull in the combat which lets you keep up the pace until it’s over. What has changed is that there are now options to run, jump, dodging is still there but now there’s an option to parry as well with its own button in order to slow down time and really lay into the enemy while they are slowed. Combat now requires more effort than before though it is still as fun as it’s even been.

Skills and SP also make a return and like in Memories of Celceta, if you hold off on attacking right away you can acquire SP faster in order to use your skills more often compared to Seven where you had to hold and release for the same effect. If like me you’re going to go through one and then the other, this is a distinction worth noting. The skills themselves will come to the characters over time and can be leveled up in order to make them more powerful. Some of them are very useful while others, it’s a difference of opinion and playstyles!

Other than the graphical change and that this group of castaways have to come together in order to survive and fend of monster attacks as there are no other humans in sight, the Lacrimosa of Dana takes a different approach to its storytelling. While the core of it will still be within the exploration as it’s always been, there’s a bigger focus on the character interactions and Adol’s dreams of a woman named Dana. As the story progresses Adol and his two constant companions of Laxia (the tsundere of the group) and Sahad (the easy going goofball) will be setting up camp as they explore the island simulating days going by.

Just about every night after setting up camp and talking until they head to sleep, Adol has dreams of this woman that he’s never met. As the nights go on you learn more and more about this interesting woman would become a Shrine Maiden of a place that he’s never heard of. This for me was another driving force to push forward as the amount given was never enough and I wanted to know more about this woman who is both in our protagonist’s dreams as well as who’s name is part of the title.

As the adventure goes on, about a dozen hours in I got my wish to see more of who this Dana is as she becomes playable and more than simply a drawing on the screen in the sepia tones of Adol’s dreams. If jumping of your own free will alone was new to the series, Dana takes things further as she can double jump and her dual-wielding weapons are amazing to use. The first time isn’t for long before the screen fades to black and Adol wakes up but it’s enough to start shedding some light on why Adol is dreaming of this strange blue haired woman. Other than of course that she has blue hair and that’s basically Adol’s thing if you look at any of the other Ys entries…

The sign of a great game is one that can still throw some curve balls your way hours into it. Getting to play as Dana was one of them but the other is a spin on the village defense (known as Interception) with Suppressions coming into play. Worried for the safety of the village, your party and the villagers head out in order to defeat nests of monsters and the boss that leads them before they can attack.

This differs from the Interception as instead of worrying about your defenses you instead place torches to expand your villagers range allowing them to attack further and possibly destroy the monster nest next to the one that your own party is already assaulting. While they are both combat based, the Suppression puts a lot more emphasis on destroying your enemies as fast as possible instead of tackling the waves efficiently to reduce the damage to your village’s defenses. Both of these offer a bit of a distraction to the main storyline and are also a great source of materials!

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana was worth the eight years for the eighth entry into the series. You honestly have to wonder if they planned it that way. While Seven sparked a new direction for the series, the Lacrimosa of Dana takes things a step further with improved storytelling and exploration through a brand new visual style for the series. Adol’s adventures have always been worth having but this one tops the rest as he and those that comes together on this cursed island strive to survive after their ship capsized.

Game Information

Sony PlayStation 4
NIS America
Single Player
Other Platform(s):
Sony PlayStation Vita

Provided by Publisher

Article by Pierre-Yves


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