Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana (Nintendo Switch) Review

Game Title: Ys VIII Lacrimosa of Dana
Company: Nihon Falcom, NIS America
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Retail | Digital Download
Battery Life: 2.5 – 3.75 hours
Download: 14.2 GB

The Ys series is one that I’ve come to love, ever since playing Ys Seven on the PSP, though its newest entry has really brought the series to a closer place of my heart. Playing Ys VIII on the Vita and PSTV was a wonderful and emotional experience with how Falcom upped their game on the series from both a gameplay and story perspective.

When the game was announced that it was coming to the Switch with all of the PS4-exclusive features, I was really looking forward to it. So, here we go. This is my review of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana for the Nintendo Switch!

Story

Taking place between the events of Ys V and Ys VII, Lacrimosa has Adol on his way to the country of Altago (where Ys Seven takes place) when the ship he is on gets attacked by a sea monster, stranding him and all of the other passengers on a cursed island filled with monsters and mystery. Trying to recover, he gathers and leads other Castaways in creating a village and living on the dangerous island as they hunt down a means to escape the island.

As far as story goes, VIII is the best the series has done to date. While the first half of the game is really slow in terms of story and background information, the second half ramps things up on a major scale, providing lots of backstory and history as well as a set of endings that brought me to tears for the second platform I experienced this game on.

As a final note, the Switch version of the game has the re-translated script and voice-work that NISA worked on since the initial Vita/PSTV launch. While many early Switch reviews noted translation problems, these were all updated with the Day 1 patch. I’ve seen the entire game and didn’t find a single issue.

Gameplay

Ys VIII is an Action-RPG, which the series has pretty much always been. Building off of the gameplay mechanics of Ys Seven and Ys: Memories of Celceta, it involves exploring a huge overworld map and taking part in real-time party-based combat.

First of all, the Nintendo Switch version of Ys VIII has all of the new content that was previously exclusive to the PS4 version of the game. This means that all of the new Questlines, Dungeons, Bosses, Story Scenes, and Transformations granted to Dana’s side of the story are now available on the go. This also includes the “Silver Armor” costume for Adol from the first Ys game, which has been exclusive to PS4 Pre-Orders until now.

Now, Ys VIII basically progresses in two-halves. The first half of the game focuses a lot on gameplay and especially exploration. You have a massive island overworld to explore as you try to find and rescue your fellow Castaways and then using those same Castaways not only as facilities in your town (like weapon upgrades and material shops), but building your numbers to free up obstacles on the map to access new areas and rescue more castaways. Since story is pretty light in the first half, it plays like a traditional Ys game.

It isn’t until the second half kicks off and you’re able to explore the world as both Adol and Dana in their respective Timeline Eras that things start expanding more. You still explore and rescue, but the focus is more spent on exploring new areas as Adol and fulfilling story-oriented quests and digging into the island’s backstory as Dana. In essence, you have a lot more you can do once you hit that halfway point.

Combat, itself, should be familiar to anyone who has plays Ys: Memories of Celceta on the PS Vita (or PSTV since that compatibility has since been added to that game). You have a party of 3 characters with you and you dish out combos in real-time battles. The main strategy here is that each character has an attack Type, and a lot of enemies are strong against everything but one Type. This encourages you to not just stick to controlling one character but swapping around to exploit weaknesses. Doing this also helps each character grow and learn new skills, as Leveling Up only really affects your base stats.

Now, the other thing I wanted to mention is Raid Battles. Since you make a village on an island full of monsters, said monsters make a habit of attacking your village in an attempt to grab your friends as dinner. During these times, you will be called back to the village to take part in wave-based battles where you defend the village from these attacks. As I said in my Vita review, this feature is interesting and would be a nice addition if it didn’t happen so often and didn’t always happen right when something really crucial is about to happen in the story. The further I got in the game, the more it felt more like an annoyance that I started to ignore when the game let me.

Finally, let’s talk about length. When I played the Vita version, I managed to beat the game in around 30-35 hours. On the Switch, I went through all of the extra content and dungeons added to the game and finished the game in the same amount of time. Considering I knew where most things were this time around, if you’re a newcomer to Ys 8, I would say the Play Time would be more around 40 hours or so to get to the end of the game and do enough Quests and Exploring to get the True Ending.

Controls

Controlling the game isn’t too hard, though if you’ve played the Vita or PS4 versions, I highly recommend you jump into settings the moment you boot up the game. A and B are swapped as is the case with most Nintendo games, and it really felt off to me.

The default control scheme has you moving around with the Left Analog Stick and the camera with the Right Stick. The L trigger is used for dodging/dashing and R is used for using skills while the other triggers are used for quick menus. A is used for attacking and B for jumping. X is used for locking onto enemies and Y is used for switching playable characters.

It’s a bit different from your normal Ys console control scheme, but thankfully, every command can be mapped to any button so you’re free to set it up however you wish.

Presentation

This section is difficult to make. Ys 8 looked better than the Vita version did, but only in some areas. For the majority of the game, Docked Mode gives the games a few jagged edges less than on the Vita while Handheld Mode mostly resembles how the Vita version looks.

But, there are a couple issues here. First off, Handheld Mode gives grass a strange distortion and flickering effect when running around. Also, some of Dana’s dungeons tank the resolution and picture quality, quickly going from very-detailed to very blurry. If you tie this with some small frame drops in her dungeons, we have a situation where performance isn’t really much different from the Vita release while in handheld mode.

Battery Life

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but here’s what I got. Here are my Battery Times, from 100% to 0%

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 36 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 00 minutes

Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 19 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 47 minutes

That’s not terrible, but not wonderful, either. It’s about standard with 3D games on the Switch.

Summary

In conclusion, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana finally brings its completed and retranslated package to handheld fans. Not without sacrifice, however, with strange flickering and resolution drops. Still, if you're a handheld fan and want the game, this plays about the same and has much more content than its PS Vita counterpart does.

8.5/10

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