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Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA
Score: 95%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Falcom
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG/ Adventure/ Action

Graphics & Sound:
I am a huge fan of RPGs and have found the Ys series to be a really good one. The series is a continual story of adventurer Adol Christin and I find it interesting to have a series this long with one character that is continual throughout. Youíll also see his friend Dogi quite often.

The first thing you will notice about the new Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA is how beautiful everything looks in the opening scenes. The gameplay is that beautiful as well. You wonít notice it as much until youíre on the island, but once you get there, some of the things will take your breath away. Personally, the beach and water were my favorite. Standing in the clear stream fishing, I could almost feel the water under my feet. Couple that with the nice, soothing music and you can really relax at some points during Ys VIII. That doesnít mean everything is relaxing and calm. Some of the enemies are definitely a battle, and they look it. Youíll run across giant sea monsters, spider things, even a T-Rex. They are all beautifully detailed and quite ferocious. Your characters are just as well done, but most arenít as ferocious. Youíve got a wide range of people that youíre dealing with, male and female, young and old, rich and poor and they did a very good job of matching the looks to the personalities.

Usually I must start up a game and specifically listen to the background music to give an opinion on it. The music isnít something that I usually notice without looking for it. With Ys VIII, I noticed and loved the music from the beginning of the game. When you are wandering around in safe areas, itís nice and peaceful. In battle, things get more frantic, and in battles with giant creatures, it's much faster and perfectly suited to the enemy. You have an option on both the audio and the subtitles. You can choose to listen to the characters in English or Japanese. Either way, the voicework is well done. You can also choose to have subtitles in English or French.

If youíve played the Ys series before, you will recognize Adol Christin and probably Dogi as well. This time, they are working their way on a ship captained by Captain Barbaros to go to Eresia across the Gaete Sea because Adol wants to get to Altago. The ship they are on, however, is attacked by a sea monster and they are stranded on the Isle of Seiren, an island that no one knows how to land on and no one has ever returned from alive. Youíll start off alone, but quickly find Laxia von Roswell. Laxia is from a noble family, but she knows how to use a sword well and isnít afraid to fight. Together you find Captain Barbaros, who puts you in charge of searching for others. Sahad will be the first to join your little group and he's quite an interesting character. Dogi will be in charge of your new little settlement, Castaway Village.

Castaway Village is not a bad place for being created on the fly after a shipwreck. Youíve got a nice spot to fish, a storage area, and even a place to upgrade your weapons. Once you find the blacksmith, youíll be able to make better weapons and armor with synthesis. As you collect more castaways, your village will get bigger and there will be more facilities. Youíll also be able to "enhance" the village after a bit and the enhancements are meant to protect it from monster attacks. I love Little Paro, the parrot. He is sometimes quite helpful in relaying messages. If you need to get rid of big objects in a path, ask for help from Castaway Village. Heíll also be able to let you know if Castaway Village is under attack, so that you can come back and help quickly and your map can help with this.

You have an area map and a world map, which is handy. The world map will be filled in as you explore, which makes it handy to see where you havenít been to yet. When you run across any particularly memorable places, theyíll be marked as Location Points on your map. Youíll also find various places that you can use to set up a camp, which are great for restoring your stats and cooking. Youíll also see giant crystals, which will heal you and recover status. If you happen to die, you can choose to retry from the last crystal. You can also warp between crystals, camps, and Castaway Village, which lets you cover large distances quickly.

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA provides several difficulty modes: Easy, Normal, Hard, Nightmare, and Inferno. Easy is for anyone just wanting to see the story and it should be pretty easy to beat. Normal is recommended for a balanced game. Hard is recommended if youíre quite familiar with the series and want a challenge. If youíre really insane, try out Nightmare and Inferno. Nightmare is really hard, but Inferno hinders you even more by limiting battles to one use, giving you a max item limit, and the enemies will come at you even faster.

You can recover HP while standing still in the fields, but not in the dungeons. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if youíre in a field or a dungeon, so make sure to pack foods and medicines at all times. You will heal to full when you level, so that can be helpful at times, but itís not something that you want to depend upon to save you. I would recommend, especially for the harder difficulties, that you learn which characters use what attacks. There are different types of attacks, depending on the character: Slash, Pierce, and Strike. Different enemies are vulnerable to different types of attacks. Make sure to watch which enemies you are attacking and let the other characters better suited take some of the enemies. You can tell your allies what tactics to use, so strategize carefully!

Game Mechanics:
It has taken me quite a bit of time to get used to some of the mechanics in Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA and even still, if I play another game and go back to Ys VIII, Iíll still get tripped up switching characters instead of attacking. For some strange reason, (Square) lets you switch between your characters. Considering just about every game Iíve ever played has (Square) set to some kind of attack, I am continually switching characters instead of attacking. Other than that, Iíve found the controls pretty easy. You will use (LS) to move and (X) for a lot of actions, like talking or searching when there is a magnifying glass. You can pull up all of the buttons in the Camp Menu by pressing (Options) and System. Youíll also be able to Save here. During battle, use (X) to attack and (Triangle) to lock/unlock onto a target. You can use (L1) to evade an enemy and (O) to jump.

You will learn skills as you battle and you can execute them by using skill points (SP). You can configure what skills are mapped to what button in your Camp Menu. You will then call them with (R1)+configured buttons. Youíll also have Extra Skills once the gauge is full. These are really powerful! You can call them with (R1)+(L1). You need to equip adventure gear by pressing (L2) or going to the Main Menu and choosing Item. Youíll find handy things, like the Grip Gloves that will let you climb those vines you have been trying to figure out how to get up. You will need to fish for food, but it's not hard to do. Just press up on the D-pad to cast and then (X) when your character has an (!) above their head to try and catch. Youíll need to press (X) rapidly, and sometimes other buttons as well for the more difficult fish, to reel it in. Youíll also learn recipes to cook your fish and more.

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA is the kind of game that I can sit and play happily for hours. Itís beautifully done with a solid story. Yes it does take some time for the story to really get going, but you get tidbits continually, enough that youíre left wanting to know what happens next with Dana especially. If youíre a fan of the series or if you like RPGs in general, you will enjoy Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA.

-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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