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Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana – Review

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana – Review
3.5
Game Name: YS VIII: LACRIMOSA OF DANA
Platforms: PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, PC
Publisher(s): NIS AMERICA, INC.
Developer(s): NIHON FALCOM
Genre(s): ACTION RPG
Release Date: SEPTEMBER 12, 2017
ESRB Rating: T for Teen

Before we begin our review let me give you a little history about the world of Ys.



What’s Ys exactly?

The Ys series is an action JRPG from 1987, made by Nihon Falcom, also the makers of other games and series such as Gurumin, The Legend of Heroes / Trails, Brandish, Xanadu Next and Tokyo Xanadu among many others. The main appeal of an Ys game is the exciting action and gameplay, along with a great design and full of adventures.

For example, one common feature is the lack of grinding: the lower your level, the more experience you’ll get from enemies and the higher your level, you’ll get less. This way, you can catch up pretty quickly if you are underleveled, and when you barely get experience, the game it’s pretty much saying you had enough and it’s time to move on with the game to the next area or boss.

The Ys series is mostly about the adventures of Adol Christin, a red-haired adventurer that travels around the world always getting involved in big schemes and saving the lands he visits. These adventures are mostly self-contained and the stories are normally pretty simple but good enough to make you keep going, along with some great plot twists here and there. There are as well subtle references and ties to the main lore, which gives the impression that it has a “deeper than needed” lore.

Do you have to play the entire series to enjoy the last Ys game? Nope! Are you in love with getting every single detail, subtle reference and lore? Then you’ve come to the right spot.

You can perfectly play the entire series on PC but for obvious reasons I can’t say more.

II – So how do I get into Ys?

Ys is not a series in which every new game happens after the last one, so it can perfectly confuse newbies, and most people just follow the chronological order. If you ask me, I don’t think that’s the best way to enjoy the series. This is, obviously, just my opinion.

This is a series in which you can see how the gameplay evolves, changes and improves on itself, and the chronological order would mean you’d have to go from the 1995 game to the 2016 title then 2003, which is the very first 3D game. And trust me, you will feel that in a very negative way. Another reason is that, if you are into its great lore and that stuff, you are going to miss a lot of references and ties if you follow the chronological order.

What I recommend is the release order. This is how Ys has been made and Falcom knows what they are doing.

III – List of Ys games [1987~1995]

[1987] Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished
[1988] Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished – The Final Chapter 

Adol’s first adventure, when he was just 17 years old, in the lands of Esteria, isolated from the outside world due to the Stormfall, a natural disaster in the form of a sea that destroys any ship that dares to reach land inside. These lands are connected somehow to Ys, an old forgotten kingdom which was a “paradise on Earth” 700 years ago, then it suddenly disappeared. Ys II is a direct sequel, since they wanted to make both games one but couldn’t because of limitations.

These two games features the “bump system”, in which you bump into enemies from the sides to hurt them, or else you’ll be the one to be hurt. While it sounds bizarre and pretty bad, it’s still very fun and if you get used to it, you’ll probably have a blast playing the game. Ys II adds magic spells, but most of the times it means you’ll be using the fireballs along with bumps.

You can find on Steam and GOG a remake of both games, called “Ys I & II Chronicles+”, which I consider the best way to enjoy both games.

[1989] Ys III: Wanderers from Ys 

2 years later, when Adol is at 19, he and Dogi visits Felghana, Dogi’s hometown, but monsters are appearing around the lands, the king is increasing the taxes and closes the mine, resulting in the village barely getting any revenue, and Chester, an old friend of Dogi, has disappeared. What’s going on exactly?

Ys III changes the gameplay to something close to Zelda II, and most people dislike this game, which is also pretty short. Luckily, there’s a new version of this game in 3D (more of that later) meaning you can skip this game perfectly, plus this title is no longer canon and you can skip it.

[1993] Ys IV: Mask of the Sun
[1993] Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys 

Returning to the bump system, Adol finds a message in a bottle requesting help to save the region of Celceta. This game happens between Ys I & II and Ys III, while Adol is 18 years old.

So why are there two Ys IV? In 1993, Falcom couldn’t develop their own Ys IV, so they outsourced the game to two companies and both made two different versions of the game, and very, very different.

Nowadays there’s a new version of the events of Ys IV made by Falcom itself (more on that later), meaning these two games are no longer canon and you can skip both.

[1995] Ys V: Kefin, Lost City of Sand 

One year after the adventure of Felghana, (Adol is 20), he travels to Xandria, north of Afroca. Legends talk about Kefin, a lost city that disappeared 500 years ago. Dormna, a merchant, is looking for the magic crystals that are suppose to reveal the secrets of Kefin. In order to achieve his goal, he hires Adol.

Ys V introduces a new gameplay system, in which Adol attacks, moves, jumps and shields himself with actual inputs, no longer needing to bump into enemies. This can be considered an extremely early version of how the 3D Ys games started.

There’s no modern version of Ys V, and it’s no longer canon, meaning that, yes, you can skip this game if you wish.

 

IV – List of Ys games [2003~2016]

Ys V wasn’t… liked back in 1995, and Falcom decided to give the series a rest for 8 years (if we forget the first versions of the Ys I & II remakes). Around 2003, they released the very first 3D Ys game, introducing a new gameplay style and a new lore that unifies the entire series, then releasing new Ys games and new versions of old Ys games with new story and ties to the lore.

[2003] Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim

The Ys that resurrected the franchise, with a hack’n’slash style, 3 swords with its own gameplay differences and a new lore that future games will keep referencing again and again.

3 years after the events of Ys V, Adol is now 23 years old and has finally reunited with his best pal, Dogi, and is eager to begin a new adventure in Afroca. It seems fate has other plans, however, as a pirate captain named Ladoc catches up with him during a brief stopover in the port city of Ediz, and presents him with an offer he simply can’t refuse: exploring the mysterious western islands of Canaan. There, a phenomenon similar to the Stormwall from Adol’s first ever quest in Esteria is occurring, completely cutting off all trade and communication both in and out. The land is thus completely uncharted, and may hold treasures of heretofore unseen value.

It seems the Romuns have their sights set on Canaan as well, however, and they’re none too keen on a ragtag group of pirates and adventurers getting in their way. When the Tres Mares is inevitably attacked at sea, Adol is knocked overboard and left for dead.

He washes ashore in Canaan itself, rescued and resuscitated by two young girls named Isha and Olha who sport long ears and bushy tails. They are of the native “Rehda” tribe, and it seems Adol is not the first human to arrive here—nor are humans particularly welcome…

You can find “Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim” on Steam and GOG. The console ports aren’t the best.

[2005] Ys: The Oath in Felghana

The new version of the events that happened during Ys III, and a game that takes the gameplay from Ys VI and vastly improves it.

You can find “Ys: The Oath in Felghana” in Steam and GOG.

[2006] Ys Origin

Set 700 years before the events of Ys I, this title tells about the story of the Ys kingdom when, one day, hordes of demons attacked and the Goddesses disappeared… and everything being linked to one single place: the Devil’s Tower. The future of the kingdom of Ys rests in said tower.

This time, Adol is no main character, and instead we get 3, each with its own story mode. The gameplay from Ark and Oath are improved along with additional details and a lot of content. It’s recommended to play the stories in this order: Yunica, then Hugo, then the secret character.

You can find the game in Steam and GOG.

[2009] Ys Seven

6 months after Ys VI, Adol and Dogi finally reaches the lands of Altago, rebuilding their kingdom around a newfound peace after years of war against the merciless armies of Romn. The classic adventuresome duo, Adol and Dogi, arrive in the harbor of Altago City, and quickly find themselves in a scuffle with the Dragon Knights, the kingdom’s military police body, when attempting to save a local girl from harassment by one of their commanding officers. Upset by the interruption and subsequent humiliation, the commander arrests Adol and Dogi, charging them with espionage.

The king of Altago, having known of the duo’s pending arrival from an old trusted friend, quickly releases the pair from prison and summons them to his chambers. He tells the men about an ancient shrine that was uncovered after a recent earthquake, and asks for their help in investigating this mysterious new find. Adol and Dogi oblige, unaware that they are about to take the first steps on a long journey to save all of Altago from long-forgotten ancient forces, and to reunite the estranged five tribes who serve and protect the Five Great Dragons – deified beings who may well be the world’s last hope.

Ys Seven marks the start of a new gameplay system. While it’s still influenced by the previous games, it features the party system, in which you take control one of the three characters on your team but can change said control to any of the other two almost instantly. There’s also skills to learn and improve, followed by a special attack.

This game was released only for the PSP.

[2012] Ys: Memories of Celceta

Falcom’s modern take on Ys IV. Unable to remember even his own name, Adol Christin awakens to find himself in a city called Casnan, on the eastern end of the Ispani. It is here that he meets Duren, an information dealer who claims to have encountered him previously. Evidently, Adol was last seen heading into the Great Forest of Celceta, a massive expanse of woodland filled with such danger that even the mighty Romun Army fears to tread within.

What happened to Adol inside the Great Forest, and how did he lose his memories? The only way to find out is to step back into the foreboding woods and brave its dangers once more. But Adol will need to have his wits about him, or his second trip into the Great Forest may cost him more than just his past…

This game takes the gameplay from the previous title and improves it quite a lot. A day/night circle is added, and also making a map of the lands of Celceta by exploring all of it.

Released only for PS Vita.

[2016-2017] Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana.

Set between Ys V and Ys VI, Adol (who is now 21 years old) is traveling from Xandria to Greek when the ship is attacked by monsters then, as you can imagine, it all goes wrong. Waking up on Seiren Islan, cursed by all eternity, he must find the survivors and help building a village in order to escape. While he explores the island, he keeps dreaming about a mysterious girl called Dana, from a different time and place, who for some reason knows him.

there’s a lot to love about the last ys game: an amazing story, the biggest Ys game made, improving every single aspect from the previous games, etc.

This game will be released on SEPTEMBER 12, 2017 for PC, PS4 and Vita, although the PS4 and PC versions will feature more content and perform obviously better.

 

V – Timeline

Before disappearing exploring the North Pole at his 65 years old, Adol managed to write over a hundred of travelogues, detailing thousands of adventures. Here’s the full list of all his known adventures. Remember that Ys origin happens 700 years before Ys I & II.

1º: The old forgotten kingdom (Ys I & II) (17 years old)

– Prologue (Ys I)
– The last chapter (Ys II)

2º: Celceta, the sea of trees (Ys IV) (18 years old)

– Ys IV: The Mask of the Sun (not canon)
– Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys (not canon)
– Ys: Memories of Celceta (canon)

3º: Felghana’s travelogue (Ys III) (19 years old)

– Ys III: Wanderers from Ys (not canon)
– Ys: The Oath in Felgahana (canon)

4º: Kefin, the capital of sand (Ys V) (20 years old)

– Ys V: Kefin: Lost City of Sand

5º: Periplus of the Goethe Sea (Ys VIII) (21 years old)

– Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana

6º: Searching the Winged Ones (Ys VI) (23 years old)

– Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim

7º: The five enormous dragons from Altago (Ys VII) (23 years old, six months after Ys VI)

– Ys Seven

Special Reference Data: Ys VI Original Use Referential Timeline – The Ancient Civilization and Related Events

During the development of Ys VI, the scenario writing team compiled this timeline of events that took place across the series as a whole.

This important data details many of the mysteries of the Ys series, This may be the first time it has been published! In English.

Supplementary Information

1. With the Discovery of Emelas, an Advanced Civilization was Born

The winged beings establish the world’s first civilization.

All civilizations are believed to come from the first, known as the Eldeen Civilization, which was established by the winged beings of the Atlas Continent. Using an emerald green soil particular to the Atlas Continent, they were able to successfully purify five colors of emelas and form a very advanced civilization. This mysterious glass, emelas, possessed magical capabilities, and they created many emelas products that would greatly influence future lives. One such emelas product is believed to be the flame sword.

Examples of Emelas Items from the Games

Black Pearl
(Black Emelas)


A magical amplifier created from black emelas. It possessed a human-like will, and was the origin to the birth of Darm. It is also believed to be an energy source to maintain the white emelas flesh of the winged beings.


Mask of the Sun
(Gold Emelas)

A gold emelas product created for forest preservation and soil fertilization. It was taken to be used in the Celceta region, but its power went out of control. This is the reason why the Celceta region has changed into a dense forest.2) 3)


Mask of the Moon
(Blue Emelas)

A stone mask intended to be the control device for the Mask of the Sun. In ‘Ys IV (PC-Engine),’ it can also be considered the Mask of Eyes. Additionally, blue emelas can possess a control function over gold emelas.4)


Zeme Mirror
(White Emelas)

A mirror created from white emelas that has been passed down through generations of the Rehdan priestesses. White emelas can be used to suppress black emelas. Similarly, the winged beings also had flesh made of white emelas.


2. Through the Blessing of White Emelas, the Winged Beings Gain Immortality

The Eldeen civilization reaches its peak.

The Eldeen civilization finds its golden age through the biological uses of white emelas. With the use of this technology, the winged beings were able to cast away their flesh bodies and replace them with bodies made of white emelas. Through this, they were able to achieve immortality. Also, those born from the spiritual mother were successfully born with wings and bodies made of white emelas, and as a result the general concept of reproduction vanished. As both humans and demi-humans would migrate to the continent, the civilization would reach its greatness.



Though they were immortal, they could pass away through the process of sublimation. Much like the way the flesh body perishes at death, sublimation will bring about the spiritual death, but this concept was greatly frowned upon.

Ys III’s Galbalan Was a Biological Weapon!?

The ancient humans put white emelas to practical use through the development of biological weapons known as Galbas. These were used to wage wars across the world while under the control of humans. Both the monster of the Canaan Islands known as the wandering dragon, or the Demi-Galba, and Galbalan from the Felghana region are very likely to be types of these.



The above is Ys III’s final boss, Galbalan. Furthermore, in early materials for Ys VI, humans attempted to create white emelas, but would continuously end up with an inferior ‘ash emelas.’ For this reason, only some of the Galbas would be self-aware.

3. The civilization is attacked by a crisis of the rising sea level. The fall of the Winged Beings’ world.

Many of the winged beings sublimated when the continent sank.

The Atlas continent was submerged when the sea level rose. At this time, the power source5) necessary to maintain their bodies of white emelas disappeared. For this reason, many of the winged beings chose the path of sublimation.

Many humans and winged beings chose to share the remaining power sources, and the humans and demi-humans6) immigrated to other continents.

This is how both Ys and Celceta rose from the remains of the Eldeen civilization.



Was Ys V’s Kingdom of Kefin also a Civilization of the Winged Beings?

In the setting materials, there is no information on whether or not the winged beings were involved in the founding of Kefin. However, the art of alchemy follows many of the fundamentals of emelas purification, and Jabil’s immortality, alongside the similar traits of the philosopher’s stone when compared to white emelas. These points make it seem very likely that the technology of the winged beings was involved. This makes it likely that the winged beings had an effect on the kingdom of Kefin.



In the setting of Ys V, spirits that protected sealing crystals, and other Emelas-like items appeared in the game. Additionally, Ys VI also utilized sword magic, which was similar to the alchemical magic introduced in Ys V.

4. Entrusted with the Black Pearl, Two Wings Beings, With Humans, Establish the Kingdom of Ys

Twin winged beings created a kingdom for humans.

After the Atlas continent sank, twin winged beings Feena and Reah traveled towards Esterior. Together with six humans known as the ‘six priests’ for their great magical abilities, used the great magical power of the Black Pearl to create the kingdom of Ys. However, as a byproduct of the purification process of cleria, Darm was born. Ys was raised into the heavens to escape the demons, and the goddesses personally sealed Darm away. Though it would return to the land in the future, Ys remained suspended in the sky for 700 years.


During Ys IV, there are scenes that hint at exchanges between Ys and Celceta. The ‘Eye of the Moon’ inscription is one such piece of evidence.


The demons were sealed deep underground. It is believed that the deepest part of Rastin Mine (in Ys I) is where Reah and Feena sealed Darm.


The Relationship Between Cleria and the Demons

Cleria came about through research on emelas. However, the geological features of the region would change the outcome of the refining process. In contrast to the properties of emelas, cleria required an outside source of magic (in this case, the Black Pearl) and without that supply, it had no special abilities of its own. However, as refining cleria requires the Black Pearl, humans performing this technique without the assistance of the winged beings meant it would have imperfections. As a result, a byproduct of the creation of cleria is the birth of demons. In current time, due to Cleria’s similarities in terms of appearance and strength, when it was mined, it was believed to be a high-quality silver.


5. The Rise and Fall of the Celceta Dynasty Through the Use of the Mask of the Sun

Celceta was transformed into a great forest by the Mask of the Sun

At the point that the winged beings crossed into Celceta, they founded the great Celceta Dynasty, and through the power of the Mask of the Sun, it flourished.

According to [Ys IV (SFC)], a great war occurred due to the intention of the winged beings to dominate over the humans there. With Lefance’s assistance, the humans were able to triumph in the great war that happened as a result. It is believed that, as they were sealing the Mask of the Sun, its power ran wild, and transformed the Celceta region into the great forest.

Many ruins were left behind by the winged beings.



There are many ruins found throughout the Celceta region. Are these an remnant of the original civilization for the winged beings that crossed into the Celceta region?

Legends and Differences of the Brutality of the Winged Beings

While they were originally a gentle group, [Ys IV (SFC)] portrays the winged beings differently. They often treated humans as livestock and food, and held an antagonistic existence with them. Like other winged beings of Celceta, Eldeel had a great fixation over an ideology to demand power. Now, with Eldeel’s death, it is believed that the bloodline of the pure winged beings has come to an end.



In his quest for power, Eldeel schemed to throw the Celceta region into chaos. But before that time, the people of the town of Highland revered him as a god and he had a gracious and devout demeanor.


Now that you’re all caught up and learned about the history of the series it’s time for our review.



Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is the follow up to Ys: Memories of Celceta. It’s an action RPG which at its heart is all about adventuring and exploration. Ys is a long-running series that has been around since the 80s, but you don’t need to be familiar with any of the previous games to understand what’s happening here. While there are some returning characters and a few brief references to past events, each game features its own self-contained story, and this one’s no different.

You’ll be in control of red-headed adventurer Adol Christin, who’s on a voyage across the ocean. Of course, things never work out smoothly, and it’s not long before the ship is attacked by a giant tentacular creature, and despite your best efforts, the ship sinks. Thankfully you don’t get a one-way ticket to Davy Jones’ locker, instead washing up on the Island of Seiran. Continuing the theme of things not working out smoothly, you’ll soon see that this isn’t a luxurious and tranquil island, but instead a place with many vicious monsters and hidden mysteries, which include a blue-haired girl called Dana who keeps appearing in Adol’s dreams.



The game’s story is intriguing. At times it can admittedly be a little bit predictable, but there always seems to be something new happening with fresh quandaries for Adol and his companions to investigate and explore at a regular pace. Not that you really need much of a reason to explore anyway, as it truly is a joy to uncover more of the map and find all of the island’s treasures.

As you roam around the island you’ll encounter many ferocious beasts which fortunately Adol and his companions are more than ready to take down. The game’s combat is fast paced with battles occurring in real time. You’ll be in control of one character while the computer controls two others. It’s a really intuitive battle system and it won’t take long before you’ll be hacking, slashing, blocking, and dodging with ease. Each character has an attack type – slash, pierce, or strike – with some types being stronger against certain enemies than others. You can easily switch between characters in your party at the touch of a button, and this is fun to do as every character has different weapons and skills. Even the characters with the same attack type feel unique, which keeps the combat feeling fresh throughout. It’s a simple hack-‘n’-slash battle system but feels wonderfully gripping, especially in some of the boss fights where you really will need to master your timing.



After you find your first couple of shipwreck survivors, they’ll decide to create a little settlement called Castaway Village, which grows and develops as you find more survivors. There are lots of advantages to rescuing people as many of them can help you out by providing medicines as well as a forge and farm. The villagers don’t just act as mindless shopfronts, though – these are diverse and interesting characters with their own mini storylines. While some of them can be a little bound by Japanese RPG tropes, they’re all told with such charm that you can’t help but be enchanted by them.



When you’re not exploring you’ll spend a fair amount of time helping out the villagers by completing quests for them. Successfully completing their tasks will improve Adol’s approval rating in the village, and this approval rating has an impact on some of the minigames. For example, there’s a tower defence style game where you’ll have to defend the village from waves of encroaching beasts. Before the battle begins you’ll be able to build and enhance defences using materials you’ve collected while out exploring. When things kick off, the villagers will sometimes cast support abilities which can provide huge advantages for your party. The higher your approval rating, the stronger their ability is.



Uncovering all of the island’s secrets will take a great deal of exploring, so it’s good that the game is so engaging. There’re plenty of quests to complete as well as crafting, fishing, and cooking to indulge in, and there are warp points across the map which means that you can quickly zip to areas that you’ve been to before, which makes it easy to backtrack for any missing treasure.

Where Memories of Celceta looked a little bit like someone had smeared Vaseline over the in-game camera, Lacrimosa’s graphics, while still simplistic, are crisp, colourful, and beautiful. There’s a diverse range of locations for you to discover, ranging from pleasant beaches to dark caves and even creepy ghost ships.



Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is an exhilarating adventure with plenty of secrets to uncover and a wonderous island for you to explore. If you’re a fan of the series or are even just a fan of RPGs in general, then Lacrimosa of Dana is an easy title to recommend. Its fast paced combat system and intriguing storyline will keep you hooked from start to finish.



NISA Online Store Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA Limited Edition.

https://store.nisamerica.com/

 

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