I’m a huge sucker for cell-shaded games and even more so JRPGs. I love the stories, characters and above all the voice acting, so when I came across YS VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana it instantly grabbed me by the front cover and the designs of the characters. Then after doing my research I find out that this little number is the eighth instalment in the YS series. After wondering why I have never seem these games before or played one, I made sure that I could picking it up for a chance to review and see if I was missing out on a good series. The game’s opening cut scene shows off just how beautiful the overall game is I loved jumping into the world of YS VIII.
To be brief with the story; Adol who is the main character is a passenger on board a ship called The Lombardia. During it voyage to Xandria it is attacked and sunk by a mysterious sea creature. When Adol comes to he is on the shores of an uncharted island which is known to be Seiren Island. You then begin to realise that you’re not the only survivor and take it upon yourself to find your fellow castaways and try to come up with a way off the island. The game is an action role playing game that plays from the third-person perspective. You navigate your way around Seiren Island and can switch between any members of your party to be your playable character.
The controls for the game are simple and allow for new players of the series to just jump straight in. It has all the basic JRPG functions such as equipping new equipment, collected items to use to heal yourself or other team members and to arrange your party to best suit your playstyle. You are able to have up to three active party member, though these can easily be changed in the party setup menu. Each character has their own attack attribute which in turn gives off a different play style. The attribute are Slash, Pierce and Strike, using the right attribute against the right enemies will deal critical damage to them. customizing your party to have one of each attribute allows for more effective combat and makes the rare item drop rate increase where as having members of your party with the same attribute gives you x1.1 to damage output. Personally I enjoyed having one of each attribute in my active party, made it easier to defeat enemies and find better loot. Combat was really easier and dynamic. Simple press the X button to perform basic attack and then press triangle to lock onto enemies, you can evade enemies by pressing L1 and use skills by holding R1 and pressing anyone of the Shape buttons that has a skill assigned to it. I really enjoyed using the skills and the visuals that came with them. The skills run off of SP which can be obtained by simply attacking enemies or finding plants in the over world. You have an extra gauge that when filled allows you to perform a powerful attack, these not only do humongous amounts of damage but look visual pleasing on screen. By hitting R1 or L1 at the right times allow you to do Flash move or Flash Guard which in combat either makes you invisible for a short period of time or nullifies damage on your and grates a few extra bonuses like every attack being critical for short period of time and SP and Extra Gauge will charge. It took me awhile to get used to doing this and have to say I still find it hard to find the right time to press the buttons but when I do manage to pull them off I feel epic.
While navigating the world you are able to harvest items from the various points allocated in each area, you simple go up to them and hit the objects and get items for doing so, you will come across treasure chest and other things that when interacted with give you items too. One of my personal favourite things to do when exploring the world is fishing. If you have bait on you’re able to cast a rod out and try and catch fish. Fishing spots are only in certain areas and represented by shadows of fish in the water, though it’s not always fish that you reel in.
All the items that you obtain from fishing, killing enemies and so on can be used in Castaway Village to make various food items and potions to heal you and give certain bonus effects in battle. Castaway Village is the main hub if you will and is basically your base of operation on Seiren Island, finding other castaways adds to the amount of people living in the village and can aid you in moving various obstacles in the over world. They also allow for more stuff to be unlocked in the village for example a black smiths, tailor and even a doctor. You’re able to sell, upgrade and trade items with all the member of the village to help customise your party and inventory. While here you can rest, obtain quests from the quest board for certain villagers and also take part in Interceptions and Suppressions. These are little like side missions / game modes where you are given a task of defending castaway village from waves of monster or going into the wild to defeat enemies. I really enjoy them and like to try and get the high score, though they can be annoying when you randomly get a request to come back to the village to take part in one. These are optional so it’s not a big deal.
You come across items in the game called adventure gear. Obtaining these will allow you to unlock new parts of the world and explore more of the map, for example you get grip gloves that allow you to climb ivy as well as a Glow stone that light up dark areas so that you can explore areas with ease. They are really fun to use at first I thought you could only have one attached at a time but you can unlock more slots which allows for multiple adventure gear to be used at once.
Graphically speaking the game looks beautiful, personally I’m a huge fan of the cell-shaded style that comes with most JRPG games and YS VIII doesn’t fail on making the environment and character look vibrant and colourful. I love the character designs in this game, my favourite ones by far are Dana and Ricotta. Ricotta’s jungle girl like look was unique and made her stand out and with Dana being the Maiden of the Great Tree her design suits the whole Maiden element as well as her characters personality. There are arrange of different weapons and costumes in the game that change the look of your character, these are normally present in most JRPG’s and I like the fact that you can change these because it allows for me (the player) to put my own unique spin on the way I play the game and the way the characters look. The UI is very simple and doesn’t clog up the screen, you can increase the size of the mini map to help you navigate the world a bit better which I found very useful. With most JRPG there is a lot of dialogue cut scenes where the characters all stand around talking, I personally love more action based cut scenes that have full animation and a lot going on but nevertheless these dialogue cut scenes don’t take me away from the enjoyment of the game as the story had enough going on to keep me engaged.
Audio in games for me is a make or break, even if you had the most amazingly beautiful game and the soundtrack was bad it would ruin the whole experience. I’m more than happy to say that this isn’t the case with YS VIII, the music that plays in the over world is engaging and memorable, the battle music is also engaging and gets you hyped and the voice acting for the characters is spot on and suits each of them to the T (Played game with Japanese Voice Acting). It really helps that most of the dialogue in this game comes with a characters voice over the top as it keep you listen and switch on, personally I find a lot of text in game to be a pain but when it has a voice overs it grips me more.
With the game being a JRPG there are plenty of gameplay to sink your teeth into, if you’re able to plan everything correctly you could get everything done in your first play through, you’re able to replay Interceptions to try and get better scores when you have better gear and what not. You have your trophies as well so people who like to get platinum trophies will be able to savour the game more, as you will be doing everything to get them. With most JRPG’s this game is single player only so doesn’t really feature an online multiplayer element.
From playing YS VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, I couldn’t help but think why I haven’t heard of this series before. The games basic but effective mechanics makes for a simple and enjoyable JRPG that anyone could jump into and enjoy. The characters captivated me and bounced off each other really well which helped me enjoy the story more and want to progress on with it. The semi-open world was fun to explore and I enjoyed doing so, the game actually made me want to explore every nook and cranny. The soundtrack and voice acting was on point and the story offers many hours for the player to enjoy. I would highly recommend this game to veteran JRPG player or those that might be wanting to take their first steps into what a JRPG has to offer and trust me, you won’t be disappointed. Personally I would have to say that for me the game didn’t disappoint and I will defiantly be looking into past games in the series and looking forward to future ones. I’m happy to give YS VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana a score of 10/10 for making me a fan of the series and a memorable gameplay experience.