DEVELOPER: Nihon Falcom
PUBLISHER: NIS America
GENRE: Action RPG
PLATFORM: Nintendo Switch (also on PS4, PS Vita)
RATING: T ( Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, Fantasy Violence, Use of Alcohol)
RELEASE DATE: June 26, 2018
As a gamer who has loved the franchise since the release of Ys: The Ark of Napishtim on Playstation 2, when Nihon Falcom announced that Ys VIII was in development I was thrilled to be able to once again join Adol on his adventures. At the time the game released back on PS4/PSVita in 2017, it had been 8 long years of waiting for a new adventure in the series and 4 years since the last remake was released.
So for all intent and purpose of this being an honest review I will disclose that this play through on Switch is actually my second time around, but the first since the updated localization was added to the game. So I actually am reviewing this with previous knowledge of the story and such.
Adol and Dogi are contemplating their next adventure as temporary sailors aboard the passenger ship “Lombardia” when the are attacked by a massive sea creature. Adol wakes up on a deserted island and assumes it is the cursed Island of Seiren that the ship’s captain mentioned to him previously. Your adventure as Adol Christin begins here!
For players of previous games in the series, the story is situated at a specific place in the timeline with occasional references to Adol’s past adventures you may have experienced prior to this game. For newcomers to the series, each game is a stand alone adventure. So prior knowledge to the timeline or the series is not needed to jump into this game.
Ys VIII sets itself apart from previous games because instead of adventuring across various places and regions, the Island of Seiren is where the entire game takes place. The majority of the characters you meet were fellow passengers or crew on the ship with you and ended up washed ashore on the same mysterious island. A few of the other changes I noticed were instead of the game focusing mainly on combat and exploration, Ys VIII makes searching for survivors, developing the base camp, and improving your relationships a requirement for getting the true ending of the game. Finding adventure gear throughout the game also helps to open more areas of the island for exploration. From being able to climb up vines to being able to double jump all depends on finding this gear and utilizing it in your adventure. You will need to help build up Castaway Village by completing bulletin board quests and bringing survivors back that will help to contribute to your survival throughout your adventure. In between your search for finding survivors and materials to improve the village, you will also need to fight off periodic attacks on the village by the beasts on the island, improve your gear, or just relax and fish.
Through a series of flashback like dreams that Adol has (and eventually as a playable character), you will discover who Dana is and why her name is in the title. The cast of characters are all great with various personalities and social classes represented. As a person who has played the entire series, Adol is of course still my favorite, but picking one of the new characters that stands out the most for me is Sahad. He is not only down to earth, but likes to have fun and talk about his family. The game consists of six playable characters and over a dozen others who will help the village thrive and assist you in various ways of finding a way to escape the island.
The combat in the game can get hectic at times, but if you remember to use a beasts weakness to your advantage by switching party members, most battles can be overcome without a problem. Switching characters is done with the press of a single button. Combat is your fairly standard hack-n-slash setup that most fans of JRPGs will be familiar with, but you are rewarded for taking advantage of your skills, dodges, and perfectly timed blocks. Characters skills are learned as they level up and through out using their previously learned skills in combat.
So what is different with the Switch version of the game? Not much really! It is called the “Definitive Edition” because it includes some of the costumes that were offered as paid DLC on the PS Vita/PS4 versions of the game. The main differences are the updated localization is included in the game and not a patch and the fact that you can take the game on the go with a screen bigger than the Vita offers. There has been some debate over the frames per second on the Switch version, some say its 60fps like the PS4 version, others say its 30fps. I can honestly say I have now played both versions and I see no real difference in the gameplay, but I don’t buy games based on their fps or resolution I buy games that I will enjoy.
Nihon Falcom has always been successful with the Ys series, but Ys VIII represents a new high for them. All the pieces of the game from the story to the variety of things to do in the game, makes this game a must play for anyone who enjoys RPGs. With this being the first Ys game to be published by NIS America they have been very forthcoming about the mistakes they made, and have been on top of making sure issues are fixed and addressed. With that I think they made sure that the Switch version got some extra attention before it was released to the masses. Whether you have waited to play this on the Switch or just need a new enjoyable game to play, I recommend you check this one out. The character backstories, the beautiful environment, the combat, rescuing survivors, and building a Castaway Village, makes this game a near perfect entry into the Ys series. Even though this was my second playthrough of the game it was just as enjoyable as playing it the first time. (I actually found things that I missed before in my playthrough.) If you haven’t given the Ys series a shot yet, what are you waiting for? I believe that after playing this entry you will definitely look into checking out some of the past games in the series!
Overall I give Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana a solid 9/10!