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Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
E3 Hands-On Preview
"Falcom has proven time and again that they know how to make their games bigger and better with every iteration."

I seem to give the same spiel every time I write about an Ys game — I'm a diehard Falcom fan, you should really play this series, yadda yadda yadda. If you've been reading RPGFan for any measure of time, you've probably heard the whole speech several times over. So what's new in Ys VIII, and why should you care? To be plain, it's still one of the best action RPG franchises around, and we're getting the definitive version of what was already a smash hit when it debuted in Japan.

The PlayStation Vita version of Ys VIII actually launched overseas in the summer of 2016, a time when I found myself unconsciously navigating every day to Amazon Japan, stars in my eyes as I pored over its product page, trying my best to hold out for an English localization. But the months passed, and there was no word from XSEED. Much, much later, after I had nearly given up hope, we finally heard that Ys VIII was coming after all, courtesy of NIS America. Putting aside commentary on the change in publisher, the long wait has rewarded our patience with an upgraded PlayStation 4 version of the game. The edition we're getting not only looks and plays better, but has new content in the form of additional story, at least one extra dungeon, and a "style change" system for Dana, the mysterious blue-haired maiden who appears in protagonist Adol's dreams.

Like Ys: Memories of Celceta before it, Ys VIII is a super-fast action RPG with a three-member party system. Each character has a different attack type (slash, pierce, or strike), and can be swapped in instantly with the press of a button to exploit enemies' vulnerabilities. Each also has access to a suite of a upgradable special attacks, as well as screen-clearing super moves, complete with flashy anime cut-ins. Returning to Ys VIII are Flash Guard, which rewards well-timed blocks with a brief period of invulnerability, and Flash Move, which slows down time when a character dodges an instant before an enemy attack connects.

Screenshots may sufficiently communicate how clean and colorful Ys VIII's visuals are, but what they don't convey is just how smooth it feels. Movement is zippy, precise, and has fantastic flow. The framerate in the demo I played held steady no matter how frantic the action became, and I found mere traversal to be a joy in itself. The Ys series typically features a variety of difficulty levels (complete with additional enemy attack patterns) to push players' skills to the limit, and Ys VIII is no exception. It's the kind of game I see myself playing through not just once, but several times, with the aim of mastering its systems and exploring every inch of its vibrant environs. You'll catch me streaming it on more than one occasion, that's for damn sure — but don't ask me to turn the music down.

Falcom has proven time and again that they know how to make their games bigger and better with every iteration; thus, Ys VIII is all but guaranteed to impress on every front. Don't believe me? An English demo is slated to release on the PlayStation Network in the near future, so you can see for yourself why I'm so assured of its excellence.


© 2017 NIS America, Falcom. All rights reserved.




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