Adol Christin is on another adventure in the latest entry of the long running Ys series.
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Publisher: NIS America
You play as the red headed adventurer, Adol Christin, who is on board the Lombardia when it is attacked by a giant squid monster. When you wake up you find yourself on the shore of an island known as the cursed Isle of Seiren. You explore the surrounding area and run into other passengers of the Lombardia. It is dangerous with monsters everywhere so you decide to make a settlement for the survivors to stay at while you try to find a way off the island.
Throughout the game you find more people that were on the ship and build up your little town in a Suikoden-esque way. Each person needs to pull their own weight and help out in any way they can. Slowly you start to find people to become your blacksmith, tailor, farmer, etc. It feels more believable instead of having some menu-driven town building mechanic in the game. There are no numbers to manage. No worries about efficiency. Just a group of people coming together for a common goal.
For the first time I actually cared about the story and the world in an Ys game. I did a lot of side quests for the rewards and to get the true ending, but I actually wanted to do the quests. I wanted to help the people in the village and protect them. I wanted to uncover the mysteries of the island. And that was probably the most surprising thing about the game.
Combat is similar to other Ys games. You mash the X button for basic attacks and you have abilities that you activate with the combination of R1 and a face button. There are three different damage types: slash, pierce, and blunt. Some enemies are weak to a specific type of attack. Ys VIII brings back the party system so you can select your party members based off their damage type and switch between them on the fly depending on what you are fighting. It is very fast pace as you try to clear and make your way through areas as quickly as possible.
Usually random mobs are easy in Ys and the bosses are what provide the challenge. This game feels very easy by Ys standards. Mobs are still pretty easy outside of a few hard hitting monsters, but even bosses aren’t too difficult. With multiple healing options and buffs available, it is a far less punishing game than fans of the series might be used to. There are also flash moves, such as flash guard and flash dodge that can be activated by dodging or guarding at the right time to give you free hits without worrying about taking damage. The timing windows for the flash moves are wide enough that with a little practice they become easy to pull off.
I struggled my way through Ys Seven and Oath in Felghana but had to bump the game up to Hard because I was a little bored on normal. But once i did that, I was having a ton of fun with the game chaining and spamming abilities and parrying everything with flash guard. I even felt that Nightmare Mode might have been doable for me, something that I have never felt for other Ys games.
Combat is a big part of Ys but the franchise is also known for its amazing music, and the Ys VIII OST does not disappoint. As a Falcom JDK Band fanboy I enjoyed the music but music is subjective so you should listen for yourself and decide if you like it or not.
Visually the graphics look low budget compared to other modern games. That’s not to say the game is bad looking, but it is the weakest part of the game. For it’s first HD console release, I wanted better but graphics aren’t everything and I’m willing to look past it but I understand if others can’t.
Ys VIII takes the Ys formula and tries to do more with it, focusing more on characters and world building than ever before. At its core, it is still the same Ys game with fun, fast paced combat, and great music. Although a bit on the easy side, Ys VIII is another great entry for the series and Falcom has already announced that the next Ys title is currently in development.