When making a game, you want to make sure your game has every chance of succeeding. The videogame market is a competitive one, so you’d better ensure you’ve got the bases covered. And a not insignificant part of covering your bases is having a good name. Unfortunately I don’t think the publishers, NISA, got the memo. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA might be one of, if not the, worst named games of all time.
And that’s sad, because there’s a lovely game hiding behind the god-awful title. This is my very first Ys game – would it shock you to know part of the reason for my never touching the series before now is the name?! – and my past knowledge of the series was limited to the very basics. Action RPGs, awesome music – that’s it.
(Really have to emphasise that “awesome music” part. The music of Ys is up there with the very best in gaming history, and being an old series means that there is a lot of it. Ys is where the legendary Yuzo Koshiro got his start, and his collaborations with Falcom veteran Mieko Ishikawa are pure aural bliss.)
But I digress. Reader, Ys VIII is very good; an action RPG that feels descended directly from Skies of Arcadia. And as readers will know I love me some Skies of Arcadia. Added to that though is more direct, hack ‘n’ slash combat and exploration along the lines of the Xenoblade series. It’s a potent combination. And while the game does not excel in the production value department – Ys VIII was originally a Vita game and it shows – you can practically feel the expertise and experience of the developer. The story, for example, is surprisingly ambitious. But what’s most ambitious about it is how it takes its time. That same principle applies to the game all over: with Ys VIII, you know you’re in safe hands.
Ys VIII doesn’t reinvent the wheel. It’s a tried and tested Japanese RPG, with the added zest of a desert island scenario. Ultimately what sets it apart is heart. There has been a lot of love and care poured into this project, and it really shows. Kudos to Falcom and the team. I think they all deserve a big hug.