Ys VIII is shaping up to be the must-play action-RPG of 2017
Last week at E3, we at Hey Poor Player were fortunate enough to go behind closed doors for a lengthy session with Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana. The latest entry in Nihon Falcom’s long-running RPG series is certainly one of the more eagerly-anticipated RPGs releasing this year. And after finally spending some time with Adol and his companions, I’m happy to report that the game is shaping up quite nicely, providing the fast-paced action and adventure fans of the series crave while telling a solid story along the way.
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana once again puts players in the boots of renowned adventurer (and gaming’s unluckiest seaman) Adol Christin. While sailing from Xandria to the continent of Eresia aboard the Lombardia, his ship is attacked and sent to the bottom of the sea, leaving the fiery-haired hero stranded on the shores of the mysterious Seiren Island.
It’s here where we took control of Adol, along with his two comrades; Laxia, daughter of the noble von Roswell family of Garman, and Sahad, a fisherman who was stranded along with Adol when the Lombardia met its watery end. You can switch between Laxia, Sahan, and Adol with a simple tap of the square button, and each of these heroes brings with them a unique fighting style to help even the odds in any encounter.
For example, Sahan is a bit slow, but his massive, axe-like anchor can crack the shells of armored enemies, such as the pesky crabs who called the wharf we were exploring in the demo home. Laxia, on the other hand, uses a rapier to unleash rapid-fire attacks that make quick work of less heavily-fortified baddies. And Adol, ever the versatile fighter, is a healthy mix of power and speed that makes him a solid pick for any situation. Each of these characters also has access to a handful of special moves that can be unleashed by holding the R1 button and tapping circle or square, which are great for getting you out of sticky situations or dealing damage to the game’s towering boss creatures.
It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight
Dodging is also integral to surviving in Ys III. Tapping L1 will allow you to perform an evasive roll. And well-timed dodges (just before an enemy lands its attack) will result in a Flash Move. Flash Moves freeze time momentarily, allowing you to dish out some heavy damage on your vulnerable foes – a invaluable tool when battling boss creatures.
Not only is the combat expanded in Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, it’s almost more polished than ever. The areas are more wide-open than previous games in the series, so it’s easier to get a bit of breathing room when things get too chaotic. Additionally, at long last, Falcom has implemented a lock-on system, which makes keeping track of enemies in a crowded area much easier. These additions, along with the game’s silky-smooth framerate (which appeared to be running at a steady 60FPS), made for a great feeling experience that I didn’t want to put down. And something tells me you won’t either when the game releases later this summer.
Staying true to the series’ strong roots
During my time in the demo area, I got to explore a labyrinth made up of craggy cliffs, a watery wharf, and grand seaside grottoes teeming with malevolent fish, slap-happy lizards, and crabs the size of large dogs. When not clashing swords with the dungeon’s hostile denizens, I came across a few points of interest. The camp you start in features a cooking pot, allowing you to exercise your inner Wolfgang Puck (take that, Breath of the Wild!). Additionally, we found plenty of gatherable materials, like wood and stone. NISA’s PR Manager Robbie Agustin informed me that Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana features no gold to speak of, so these materials will be used in town to fashion new weapons or acquire other items.
It’s no secret that the fan reaction to NISA handling the localization of Ys VIII was met with a bit of resistance from some fans who were hoping that XSEED would be handling bringing the game to western audiences. I asked Robbie during our meeting what his thoughts were on the controversy, and if the backlash has influenced how the localization of the game was progressing. His answer was candid. Acknowledging fans’ concerns, he assured us at Hey Poor Player that NISA is taking the localization effort very seriously as they work to bring the most authentic product to players when it releases on the Vita and PlayStation 4 later this year.
If our brief session with the game was any indication, it seems like Ys veterans have nothing to fear. All of the writing for the story sequences that we witnessed —including a welcome return of fan-favorite adventurer Dogi—were all enjoyable, and felt completely in-line with the rest of the games in the series. That said, if you’ve been antsy about the game’s localization, I think you can breathe a sigh of relief. NISA really seems to be doing a standout job of bringing the game to English-speaking territories.
Tonight I dine on turtle soup!
One of the highlights of the demo was a boss battle that put us toe-to-toe with a titanic turtle in a waterlogged arena. This fight packed all the punch of Ys’ more memorable boss encounters. To best the beast, I had to dodge his attacks and outmaneuver the giant beast to reach his vulnerable tail. Once I finally got behind him, I switched to the nimble noble Laxia to unleash rapid volleys of slashes and dashing special attacks to weaken him.
Once the temperamental turtle’s tail was toast, it was time to attack the creature head-on. The feeling of using the heroes’ new dodge mechanic to evade a rain of toxic bubbles and following up with a punishing Flash Move as time stood still was nothing short of exhilarating.
The more damage the rabid reptile took, the faster and more menacing he became. Slashes and tail whips caused members of my party to drop like flies. After popping a handful of handy healing items, I was back in the fight. After switching to Sahan to take advantage of his immense power, I smacked the turtle on his noggin and sent him to his watery grave.
The first boss encounter was an incredibly kinetic and satisfying showdown. Not only was he a decent challenge, he also did a great job of showing us the nuances of the game’s refined combat system. By the end of the fight, I really felt I had a good grip on Flash Moves, dodge rolls, and targeting enemies with multiple weak-spots. And after the titanic beast was finally slain, I couldn’t help but think of what other massive monsters await further in Ys VIII. Thankfully, we won’t have to wait much longer to find out!
Ys on earth, good will to men
Talk about a wild ride! This brief, closed-door taste of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana was a tantalizing one indeed. As a longtime fan, I must admit the level of polish found in this latest entry in Falcom’s long-running role-playing game series is quite impressive. If this early sample is a sign of what’s in store in the full release, series stalwarts are in for a real treat when the game lands on the PlayStation 4 and Vita on September 12, 2017.
So, are you looking forward to Ys VIII? If so, will you be picking it up on the PS4 or Vita? As always, we love to hear from you. Sound off in the comments and let us know!