Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana was initially released in Japan during June 2016, and now, just over a year later, the game is making its way west. While the action RPG takes place after the events of Ys: Memories of Celceta, VIII can be enjoyed fully without playing earlier entries.

Red-Haired Hero

You start the game off as Adol Christin, a red-haired adventurer who’s currently sailing across the sea as a sailor. During his travels, a kraken-like creature appears from the sea to take down the ship. After putting up a valiant fight against the sea beast, Adol wakes up to find himself on a mysterious island (check out our gameplay capture of the opening.) While searching, he comes in contact with lost castaways who can end up teaming up with you in battle, setup camps, etc. The story can be predictable but the character development for Ys VIII helps make the game interesting.

After the ship incident, you start off the game at a steady pace. Some of the castaways you rescue early on will open up stations where you can upgrade weapons, create accessories and exchange items. Castaways will also post messages on the village’s bulletin board for help. Accepting their help will start up the side quest, with completion offering up items and even increased party member stats. In some ways, the “Castaway Village” reminds me of the Suikoden RPG series where you gather members and build your home base.

After playing the majority of the game in dubbed English, the voice acting was neither impressive nor lackluster as it could have been. One interesting facet of voice acting, however, is that party members will let you know when you’re close to a chest, enemy or materials. It’s pretty helpful especially when gathering materials that blend into the environment.

Crimson Fighter

The battle systems are all action but there’s still plenty of strategy to employ. You’ll have to attack, dodge and defend in different ways depending on the type of enemy, with boss fights being especially experimental. After a few battles, the combat controls feels comfortable and fun when it comes to doling out special attacks and skillfully dodging enemies. While the fast-paced battles can result in some camera difficulties, the targeting mode can help remedy things.

Out of combat you can alter which special attacks you want to equip but your limit is four. That said, the more you use these specials, the quicker they can level up for even stronger attacks. As for party members, you can command them to perform various actions such as attack and evade, as well as control them yourself. There’s also a shortcut menu for healing items as well as various map viewing options for exploring the island. There are shades of the Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening while exploring the sun-drenched isle, as you uncover new locales, mysterious chests and unique materials.

Sunshine Coastline

As is strangely common in Falcom’s RPGs, there’s a fishing minigame to play in Ys VIII. As you adventure you’ll find bait which you can use at specified fishing spots. While catching fish is rewarding, the mechanics are pretty bland – you swing your rod, adjust the area where you see shadowed fish swimming and hit the action button. Once prompted, you simply hit the button again and mash the same button until the gauge fills up. Once filled, the fish is yours. That’s really it. Comparing to the fishing mini-games in the likes of Final Fantasy XV, it’s not very deep.

The artistic style, soundtrack and presentation of the game is one of the best in its genre.I just can’t get over the colorful, illustrated start screen and the characters in the menu. However, the characters and environments themselves in the game are lacking in detail, which makes sense considering the game itself was built more for the Vita than the PlayStation 4.

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana may not be the best game graphically but its mechanics and presentation make it a strong entry to being one of the best RPG games this year.

Checkout few of our gameplay footages.

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana PlayStation 4 review code was provided by NIS America, Inc.

  • Energetic yet strategic battle system
  • Fantastic soundtrack
  • Exploring with benefits
  • Gradual character development
  • Graphics feel a bit dated
  • English dub voices are medicore

System: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Categories: Action role-playing game
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nihon Falcom

Written by Seth Hay

Designer, developer and many other things, Seth not only enjoys video games but anime and sports. Making the choice between a Nintendo 64 and a PlayStation back in the '90s, Seth went with the PlayStation just so he could continue enjoying the Final Fantasy franchise along with many other JRPG titles.