Introduction to the YS series
YS is an Action JRPG series developed by Nihon Falcom starting in 1987 and which has since evolved by embracing new consoles and new technologies. Over the years, the titles in the series have been released on the Sega Saturn, the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Playstation, PC, Xbox and Nintendo Switch.
Ys VIII Lacrimosa of Dana was initially developed and produced for Playstation Vita and then landed with a graphic improvement also on Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch, especially on the latter this review is developed.
Like other Japanese series, it is not necessary to play from the first chapter of the series to be able to enjoy the plot or the characters, as each game has a separate chapter with different characters and settings. The games within the same series simply have a thematic connection of how the gameplay is developed and what the general feel of the narrative is.
The only element that connects the various chapters of the YS Series is the characters of Adol Christin and Dogi who have been present since the first chapters and who, driven by the desire for adventure, end up despite themselves getting into the most unexpected situations.
Setting and Gameplay
In this adventure, we will directly control the character of Adol (as always the main character in the series) who embarked together with Dogi as a sailor on the ship "Lombardia" to reach the continent of Eresia and will end up being attacked by a Kraken.
We will be able to get to know the other passengers on the cruise ship and test the basics of combat for a brief moment, before the Lombardia shipwreck.
The combat controls are extremely simple to master and intuitive allowing in a short time to learn how to perform quick series of blows, dodge attacks, as well as use the special combat techniques specific to each character that we will add to our party. We will also be able to unleash powerful finishers called EXTRA Skills to defeat the most powerful enemies or bosses.
At the end of this phase which serves mainly as a tutorial, we will be dragged to the Island of Seiren (similar to the island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea, all the places in YS VIII are fictional but inspired by places or names of real places) where we will begin to meet other castaways from Lombardia and to build a village to face the threats of the island.
The Island of Seiren is uninhabited and populated only by monsters, therefore the survival of the village is essential for the continuation of the Game, there will be activities dedicated to the construction of fortifications and defence sessions against the waves of monsters.
At this point, everything begins to slowly pick up speed and the game mechanics and the narrative begin to line up. The search for the castaways, the exploration of the island and the search for resources will not only serve as incipit but will be intertwined as having a greater number of castaways we will have access to specific areas previously inaccessible, we will increase the services and tools available for crafting at the Village, as well as we will have side quests and tasks to complete to obtain better rewards and the approval of the castaways who will tell us their story.
By finding new companions we will also increase our party which can reach a maximum of three active characters at the same time while the others will be available as reserves up to a maximum of six characters.
During the fights we will use a character while the others will fight alongside us and will be managed by the AI, we will be able to switch between the active characters with the press of a single button (a typical feature of the last chapters of the series) to use the best character depending on the opponents.
Each character is matched to a damage type based on their weapons, and using the best type against monsters (or bosses) is the key to defeating them. Damage Types only Slashing, Piercing, and Bludgeoning.
Graphics and Audio elements
Since YS VIII Lacrimosa of Dana was initially produced and published for PS Vita, it is natural to see some inaccuracies at the graphic level especially in the different environments, sometimes characterized by not too defined textures.
The graphics of the settings and the faces of the characters have always been a little bit the weak point of the series and therefore is not suitable for graphics fanatics, much better the cutscenes and the characterization of monsters and Bosses.
The best way to play the title on Nintendo Switch is definitely in handheld mode while when connected to the TV the graphic defects immediately become more evident, moreover the title also lends itself very well to quick game sessions given its design for PS Vita.
The elements in which YS VIII Lacrimosa of Dana performs at its best are instead the aspects of the gameplay and the soundtrack, both extremely enjoyable and without too many frills, especially if we consider Falcom to produce the title does not have access to astronomical budgets.
Another slightly sore point (especially for me) is the translation done only in English and French, perhaps having some additional language (such as Spanish or in my case Italian) could have helped the series to expand and be recognized also in other countries.
However, it is also possible to play it in English without too many problems even for those who do not have an excessive command but it could lead to the loss of some nuances.
In Conclusion, YS VIII Lacrimosa Of Dana is a great game for those who want good gameplay without too many worries and a plot that is not too convoluted or overly complicated.
All the mechanical elements line up perfectly and there are no activities that are offered to the player for the sole purpose of increasing the overall duration of the game the secondary quests serve to immerse themselves more in the narrative as many castaways will tell more private details once they start to trust us more.
The game can be tackled in different ways depending on the time available or the objectives we set ourselves as players, we can quickly complete only the main story or get lost in secondary activities, such as collecting resources, exploring 100% of the Isle of Seiren, catch all the different types of fish, cook all the recipes available, open all the secret chests, maximize the defences of the village and defend it from the attacks of wild creatures, etc.
The best is yet to be discovered! Who is Dana? Why is her fate connected to Adol's? What secrets does the Island of Seiren hide?
To conclude, a little minor spoiler, three alternative endings are depending on what is done in the game.
© 2021 Christian Allasia