Going into Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, with absolutely no idea what to expect from the title, I got way more than I bargained for. Not only does the game have a gorgeous aesthetic but the gameplay itself is highly engaging and the story contained within is quite possibly one of the best JRPG tales I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying in recent years.
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is the 8th title in the Ys franchise and follows the story of Adol Christin, adventurer extraordinaire. As Adol embarks on his journey aboard the Lombardia, a luxury passenger ship helmed by Captain Barbaros, a tale of mystery, intrigue, and survival is set in motion. As the Lombardia approaches its destination, it makes its way past the cursed Isle of Seiren. Seiren is said to be cursed because of the fact that any seafaring vessels that have strayed too close to it have ended up at the bottom of the ocean.
While the Lombardia maintained a safe distance from the Isle of Seiren, things still go awry when a giant squid attacks the ship. The player is introduced to the basics of combat in Ys VIII when Adol tries to defend the ship against the massive squid’s tentacle. After a brief spat with the cephalopod’s appendage, the monster gets angry enough to engulf the entire ship. Adol, his best friend Dogi, the captain and all of the Lombardian passengers get sucked into the ocean as the ship is crushed by the beast’s gigantic tentacles.
After miraculously not drowning, Adol washes up ashore and soon encounters Laxia von Rosswell, a noble. After some exploring, the two soon realize that they are stranded on the island of Seiren itself and set up camp while planning their escape. Ys VIII’s story builds itself up over time slowing introducing new characters and game mechanics but never does the game feel like a chore. The game captivates you with its superb storytelling and character conversations along with gameplay that’s quite addictive. Players will find it hard to put the game down since it’s so enjoyable in every aspect.
Combat in Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is similar to previous Ys titles. Those who are unfamiliar with the franchise can compare it to the “Tales Of” titles from Bandai Namco and more recently, Final Fantasy XV from Square Enix, although this doesn’t do it justice to be quite honest. The game may be a JRPG but there are no turn-based slow-paced battles here. Ys VIII is an action-adventure title with a real-time battle system where the face buttons on the JoyCon are assigned to specific actions. Players can jump, slash, slice and dice their way to victory against a wide variety of enemies.
Additionally, each party member has access to special attacks which can be triggered when enough skill points are earned. There’s also 3 different types of damage which can be dealt with enemies, these being Slash, Strike, and Pierce damage. Battles may involve some strategy as to which party member you control and choose to attack since certain enemies are weak to specific types of damage. Traversing the environment players will also encounter various resources which can be harvested by attacking them. These are used in crafting.
Enemies are quite varied in Ys VIII though many small enemies populate the environment and can be easily dispatched through some button bashing. However, the game is not a walk in the park so don’t let this fool you. Boss battles will require a considerable amount of skill to beat. Players will have to be sure to upgrade their weapons and outfit their party members with the best equipment via the crafting system present in the game before taking on stronger enemies. Careful planning, proper item management, and correct skill usage are essential. The evade or dodge button is also your best bet for survival in Ys VIII with successfully timed evasive maneuvers rewarding you with increased movement and attack speed.
Graphically, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is phenomenal. For a Nintendo Switch title, the game doesn’t suffer from any sort of slow down or lag even when battles are extremely chaotic or filled with flashy effects. There are also times during the game where the scenery on display is just so visually appealing, all you’ll want to do is pan the camera around to take it all in.
The OST used in the game is exceptional too with quite a lot of tracks that are memorable. This is something I never expected from the title and was pleasantly surprised by. The voice acting is also great with many seasoned English voice acting veterans lending their talents to the game. I do however have a gripe with the fact that not everything is voiced in the game. This is slightly jarring when some conversations are voiced and suddenly others aren’t. The fact that characters can have conversations while out in the open fields of the game populated with enemies is a nice touch and helps create a sense of immersion that just gets shattered when you’re faced with a non-voiced story segment.
Overall, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is a must have Nintendo Switch JRPG game. The game has some hiccups such as not being completely voiced throughout and having some awkward JRPG moments with its writing at points but other than that, the tale it tells is intriguing and captivating while having gameplay that’s addictive and enjoyable. If you own a Nintendo Switch and want a solid JRPG experience, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is perfect for you.