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Ys VIII: Lacrimosa Of Dana (Switch)

Posted by GG Goblin On July - 23 - 2018

The Switch plays host to one of the best JRPGs in recent years.

Considering how old some of the ports that appear on the Switch are, the fact that Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana has taken less than a year to hit the Switch after being launched on PS4 and Vita last year here in the UK, is pretty impressive. Now, if Switch players can get past the gobbledegook title of the game, they will be able to enjoy an impressive JRPG on their Nintendo hybrid. Good times.

ysviii1 (Copy)

Despite being the latest entry in a long running series, and featuring a lead character who returns from previous games, no previous knowledge of the series is required to enjoy Ys VIII. Those who have enjoyed the previous titles will obviously have that familiarity, but the adventure here stands alone quite comfortably and, given the more unusual set up for the game, should be easy to get into even for those who don’t usually play JRPGs.

Fans of the series will know the lead character Adol Christin, an adventurer who starts the game on a ship, travelling the high seas. Quite quickly, things take a turn for the worse as giant tentacles reach out of the sea and despite the crews best efforts at fighting this beast back, the ship is destroyed and Adol washes up on the shore of a mysterious island. After finding a few other survivors, a plan is formed. The survivors will set up a base of operations while Adol, and a few companions, head out to explore the island, find other survivors and work out how to get away from this monster-filled land. Oh, and there is also the matter of the mysterious girl that keeps appearing in Adol’s dreams…

ysviii2 (Copy)

Ys VIII does a lot of things well, right from the start. Adol is a great character, and the relatively small cast of the game ensure that players can invest in their story and not feel overwhelmed. The story is also quite compelling, revolving mostly around survival on this strange island, but with plenty of mystery to uncover and build upon. The story never gets overwhelming as it so often does in other JRPGs, making it much easier to enjoy the adventure.

The island is littered with monsters that Adol will have to overcome, some of them quite large and impressive. The combat system in Ys VIII is active and easy to get into, but with enough depth to keep JRPG veterans happy. A simple button press attacks, while another button is assigned to dodging or blocking. A further button will switch to one of the other members of the group instantaneously, and with three different fighting styles used by different characters, players are able to tailor their battles to take advantage of monsters weaknesses. Skills have their own button combination as well, and skills are unlocked over time to provide much more impressive attacks. The combat encounters are fast and furious, often a spectacle to behold and fulfilling to participate in. Players with skill will be able to get much more out of the combat than button mashers and a range of difficulty levels will ensure that there is always a challenge to be had.

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Exploring the island, Adol will come across other survivors that will head back to the base and add more options for the player. Different stores will gradually be set up, allowing Adol to trade all of the things that he finds while exploring for new equipment or upgrades. The survivors also bring their own stories and their own missions for Adol to take on, often leading to previously inaccessible areas of the island being opened up for Adol to explore. With the ongoing mystery of the island and Dana, this simple loop of finding survivors and unlocking the island is plenty to keep the player heading out for more.

The exploration will occasionally be broken up by having to head back to the base and help defend against waves of monsters in a mini game. The survivors will obviously help to defend the base, and defences will be needed, so it is up to the player whether they abandon whatever they are doing to head back to the base camp and help out. It can be a bit of an interruption, but it adds yet more tension to the exploration knowing that you may have to rush away at any moment.

With a great set up and decent combat, Ys VIII has a lot going for it. On the Switch, the game also comes with a bunch of DLC that was offered on previous versions, which certainly adds to the value for money. However, it has to be said that coming to the Switch is not without problems. Ys VIII was not the best looking game to start with, but some problems with the port have left the game looking less than impressive. Frame rate and resolution issues in no way break the game, but they are noticeable in both handheld and big screen mode, which is a real shame.

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Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is an excellent JRPG with great characters, good combat and an emphasis on exploration. While the Switch version of the game may not be the most polished, it still holds up as a great experience and one that can be enjoyed by a wider audience. There is a lot of content here that suits the Switch in both handheld and big screen mode, and should ensure Ys VIII a place in the library of any RPG loving Switch owner.




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