Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
This is basically a touched-up port of the original game that released about half a decade ago, but it’s the best version of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA available. The lack of new features might not provide enough reason for someone who already played this title previously to return to it, unless they (like myself) were just tremendous fans of the game. If you somehow missed this action-RPG before? There is a lot to appreciate.
The tale is a relatively standard one, at least initially, but enjoyable nonetheless due in large part to an interesting cast of characters in an large, beautiful world. We get introduced to Adol and company shortly before their ship becomes wrecked on a mysterious island. From there, the story turns from one of simple survival to building something more and a story that continues to grow more interesting the longer you follow it.
In terms of what is different in this release? It basically boils down to slightly more polished visuals that make good use of the PlayStation 5 hardware to smooth out the framerate and make the visuals pop. You get better draw distances and animations than the original – and while it is a pretty game, it is worth noting that this is a port and it does look just a bit older than some more recent titles on the same hardware.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that when Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA first released, it’s somewhat rough localization had been a topic of concern. That was patched over time – so this version of it comes with those patches already baked in from the start. There’s some cosmetic DLC thrown into this package for good measure. Toss in some very limited load times compared to the prior iterations of the game, and Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA is the same title at its core that was released before – but this is the best version of it.
One aspect of the presentation that is unchanged from my recollection is the soundtrack, but that’s a good thing. The music in Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA is fantastic (really, that’s something of a theme with the Ys series in general), with a decent variety of sound effects to compliment the overall gameplay as well. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA is an action-RPG, with different party members having basic attacks, dodging, jumping and unique skills. Swapping between characters helps you find and take advantage of enemy weaknesses as you build up to ultimate attacks that are generally quite fun to watch. It’s not the most original recipe in the genre, but it’s implemented about as well as any action-RPG out there.
Much of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA is a pretty traditional action-RPG game, but one of the more entertaining mechanics is the lightweight simulation aspect of Castaway Village. During your adventures, you will encounter other people with various skills and stories that can be added to your village. There’s a fantastic sense of progression that sees you pulling together a group of ragtag survivors into a village that grows and even thrives over time, opening up other gameplay and progression elements. These can lead to interactions ranging from presents being given to Adol to more detailed worldbuilding. Additionally, there are periods of time where the village comes under attack and it creates a sort of lightweight strategy mini-game.
Beyond the combat and the establishment of villages, there’s some other gameplay elements that have become more common to the genre – but just feel well-done here as well. Crafting, fishing, cooking and more add pleasant distractions from the core gameplay with small rewards that make the time spent feel worthwhile to your progression. This mixes nicely with the exploration aspect of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA and helps the game’s pacing. Another fun deviation in gameplay is the titular Dana who gets unlocked and has her own adventures that feel different from Adol’s. They’re not necessarily as engaging personally, but it keeps the pacing fresh throughout.
One small quibble with this latest package is that the game is completely standalone. Given that Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA has been out for nearly six years now on a handful of different platforms (PC, Vita, Switch (Review), PS4 (Review) off of the top of my head) – the lack of save importing is a somewhat peculiar feature omission here. It feels like the fantastic PS5 controller’s features (especially the trigger feedback) could have been leveraged here as well.
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA was a fantastic action-RPG when it first released. Those core gameplay elements are still highly enjoyable today. The PlayStation 5 version of this title is easily the best of the bunch, pulling in all of the patches and DLC while leveraging the hardware to provide the best visual experience yet. That being said, it is an older game and the graphics do reflect that to some degree – after all, it was designed for a different generation of systems.
If you have already spent dozens of hours with Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA on a previous release, there might not be enough new here to bring you back – though the price point is attractive.
If you missed Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA before though and enjoy the genre? Do yourself a favor and pick this one up on PlayStation 5 – it’s excellent despite its age.Score: 8.5 / 10