YS VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana Review
I’ve never had the pleasure of playing a YS game before, and after playing YS VII: Lacrimosa of Dana I really wish I had. From the first cutscenes to the moment I was able to take control of the games protagonist, Adol. Although the game isn’t without a few faults, it is an outstanding experience from start to finish, one I’m really glad I was able to play.
When the game begins, Adol and his pal Dogi are onboard a passenger vessel called the Lombardia. As to not be aboard for a free ride – as these adventurers are not here for pleasure – both Adol and Dogi take jobs onboard the ship; Dogi works in the kitchens, and Adol is tasked with doing security around the ship, especially with the upcoming passenger dinner. During the coarse of the first 30-45 minutes, you will interact with the many guests on board, most notably the captain who shares with you a legend about ships who disappear in this area, and the people on-board are never heard from again.
Surprise, the ship is attacked by a Kraken, and Adol falls into the ocean, waking up on a deserted island, As he explore the island, Adol is reunited with his friend Dogi, as well as other members of the Lombardia. Together, they must create a base camp and figure out how to get off the island.
There are two main things you will do in YS VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana: first, you will collect resources and find stranded passengers to expand and upgrade your camp, and to open up new areas to explore. Second, you will travel around the island rescuing passengers, while trying to unravel the mysteries of the island.
Expanding the Camp
Expanding the camp and exploring the island are not done exclusively from each other, but you can focus on one over the other. When you first get your camp setup, a quest board will appear near the entrance to the camp. By completing the tasks on the board – optional and open to be completed whenever you want, unless required by the story – you can provide the necessary resources to your fellow Lombardia passengers to help expand the camp. Early on, you will have access to a fire for cooking, a storage centre for trading in common resources for more rare resources, and a blacksmith station to create new weapons or improve old ones.
It doesn’t take long to learn all the necessary trades to have success. You will be given a fishing rod early to snag fish out of the various waterways around the island. Each fish is logged into your collections book, with your largest fish always recorded.
Exploring the Island
Exploring the island will ultimately push the story forward. You will be tasked with finishing specific tasks, like collecting specific resources or finding more passengers. Each and every area has a completion percentage attached to it, noting how much of the specific area you have explored, how many chests you’ve found, and how many resource harvesting locations you’ve engaged with. While finding all the chests and harvesting locations isn’t required, it does add a bit of extra gameplay for those looking to finish the game with 100 completion. It was also a great way to figure out whether you had fully explored a given area or not.
At times, you will run into downed trees or large boulders that will block your path. These can only be removed by having the required number of people in your camp. It’s a great way of directing your progression, by not allowing you into certain areas until you are further in the game.
The real-time battles in YS VIII are great, and with so many difficulty modes to choose from, you can really play the game how you want to play it. If you want to focus on the story or the camp building, you can put the game on the easiest difficulty. Regular enemies won’t stand a chance against you, but bosses will provide a bit of challenge. However, should you play on this difficulty, there rarely is a need to utilize some of the camps for interesting crafting station. The medium difficult is what I played on, and by using the camp to the fullest, I was never died, but always had a challenge.
The battles themselves are really fun, utilizing a variety of different moves, including specials, regular attacks, and blocks. The battle modes feel so natural, an unlike other action JRP titles, you aren’t pulled into a battle window to complete the fight, but rather, it all happens naturally, void of any loads.
Load times are another plus in YS VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana. Rarely will you wait more than a few seconds between screens. While most map areas are broken up into 10-15 separate areas – which, frankly, are not that big either – the load screen between them is so minimal, you don’t mind that it isn’t a seamless, open world.
There isn’t much to dislike about YS VIII. Sure, sometimes I found the camera within fights a bit wonky, but outside of that, everything is top notch. Completing and expanding your camp has a life-simulation feel to it, and the characters you interact with all have unique personalities. The way the developers made you care about the characters you interact with was phenomenal, and not something you often see in video games today.
The game is great, and if you love playing JRPG games, this is a must own. If you are more of a traditional RPG player and are looking for the perfect introduction to the unique nature of JRPG games, this would be the perfect starting point.