What is Ys VIII -Lacrimosa of DANA-?
Ys VIII -Lacrimosa of DANA- is a Japanese-style role playing game that follows series protagonist and die-hard adventurer Adol Christian on his latest adventure. When the ship he and his partner in crime Dogi were sailing on gets attacked by a giant sea monster, Adol finds himself a castaway in a mysterious part of the world. Waking up on the beaches of the legendary Seiren Islands, a cursed region where many a ship has gone missing, it's up to you to round up all the survivors you can , as you try to figure out a way to get off the island, and unravel the mystery behind island's curse.
Although this is the eighth entry in the series, the story here is stand alone, so you don't need to have played the earlier games to get stuck in.
How do you play Ys VIII -Lacrimosa of DANA-?
Playing out in a similar fashion to the Tales of series, or Kingdom Hearts, Ys VIII is a heavily story driven game that mixes exploration with battles against the many monsters that roam the island. As a castaway on an island, a lot of the story focuses on exploring your newfound home, as you map out the sun-baked beaches, dank, dark caves and lush green forests, reunite with other castaways, and begin to search for a way to escape. To begin with, the portion of the island you can explore is fairly small, but as you progress through the story and recruit more characters to your cause, you'll be able to travel further afield, as you have the numbers to shift the various large obstacles that block your way.
Combat here is a fairly straightforward button-mashing affair, with Ys VIII's real-time battles combining frantic sword slashes with well-timed dodges and special skills thrown in for good measure. Each party member can use only one of three different types of weapon, which in turn are each strong or weak against certain types of enemies, so you'll want to try and create a fairly balanced party in order to cover all your bases in battle. Periodically, more dramatic and/or complex battles crop up, where you have to either face off against a more powerful boss monster, or defend your little improvised town, with the latter seeing you either mowing down wave upon wave of enemy monsters, or taking the fight to them instead, cutting through their forest strongholds to lure out the boss.
How easy is Ys VIII -Lacrimosa of DANA- to pick up and play?
Ys VIII has a choice of five different difficulties to choose from, and while the standard 'normal' level is fairly easy going as it is, you can tone the challenge down even further by switching to easy instead. Conversely, those looking for a real test can try their hand at Inferno, which limits the number of items you can carry, and makes enemies move faster, along with significantly ramping up the difficulty of the battles. With the exception of those playing in Inferno mode, you can choose to change the difficulty at any time.
With the ability to save anywhere, and a quest log to refresh your memory about what to do next, in general, Ys VIII is fairly easy to get to grips with. Outside of combat, the biggest challenge actually comes from figuring out where you need to go next. As you're the first ones to explore the island, the game's main world map will show you where you need to head next, but the game's area maps (which show you only your immediate surroundings, and the exits you can take) don't, meaning there it can take a bit of switching between maps to make sure you're definitely heading in the right direction. As the island is littered with obstacles that require a certain population size to tackle, you'll often need to backtrack to previously visited locales and move obstacles and open up a new area, which may not be entirely obvious at the time.
It's worth noting that while Ys VIII does have English voice overs (in addition to the original Japanese ones, if that floats your boat), only some of the game's dialogue is voiced, with lengthy sections relayed only through text. As Ys VIII is a fairly story-driven game - and as some of these unvoiced segments feature important story information, or critical mission instructions - we'd say you need to be a fairly confident reader to tackle the game, as you'll likely find yourself a bit at sea without it.
- "Let me go over the duties of security one more time. You must secure the Guest Floor and the Top Deck. Just make sure no one does anything threatening or suspicious."
- "Can you head to the shore and fish up some tasty seafood with Sahad? I'll prep the fire to cook the fish over in the meantime."
- "I'd like to build simple beds for us. However, in order to do so, I'll need you to supply the following materials. Sturdy Wood x3."
Ys VIII -Lacrimosa of DANA- sits somewhere in the middle in terms of mature content.
Despite its cartoony appearance, battles in Ys do sometimes feature some minor blood effects, although it's often very hard to see. As characters attack various beasts and fantastical creatures (dinosaurs, giant starfish, oversized caterpillars) with swords, guns and magical spells, hidden amongst the bright flashes of light and impact special effects, a red haze of spots is sometimes visible. One scene shows large sprays of blood as creatures are killed.
In terms of swearing and bad language, the word sh*t appears in the dialogue occasionally.
When it comes to sexual references, Ys VIII is fairly tame aside from one scene near the start in which the protagonist spies a female character bathing in a stream - in her surprise at being spotted, she loses her towel, standing there covering her body with her hands instead (although you don't see much past the tops of her shoulders).
Format Reviewed: Playstation 4