The hit gaming series Ys makes its return after an 8-year absence with Ys VII: Lacrimosa of Dana. Gaming moves on so quickly these days that an 8-year absence could quite possibly be a killer so how does Ys hold up?
Stright off the bat Ys hits you with a beautiful, somewhat haunting opening theme tune that quite honestly I could sit and listen to indefinitely. It has a beautiful sweeping melody with dramatic overtures that harken back to retro JRPG’s and really sets the tone perfectly because that’s what Ys is. A retro JRPG.
The game sees you in control of Adol has he awakes on a deserted island after a shipwreck trying to band together any survivors whilst simultaneously figuring out the mysterious dreams he is having of the young maiden, Dana
Visually the game is a mixed back. the graphics are just this side of dated but the colours are so vibrant that you really don’t mind. The characters have very basic facial expressions and the voice acting has that wonderful stunted tone that suggests the localisation didn’t quite fit. Whilst some may find that a negative I think the poor translation really takes me back to days I discovered JRPG’S and that nostalgia roots the game in a solid emotional start.
Ys isn’t all completely nostalgic though. it blends some of the best elements of the old school with more modern elements of RPG gaming. fully controllable sweeping 360 camera is a must in open world game’s and especially so for the type of battle system implemented. I’m a bit of a purist and a dying breed as I like my RPG’s to have turn based combat but Ys goes for a more fluid real time combat that when mixed with the skills system, focus dodge and focus shield moves and the ability to switch between party members with a single button press adds a wonderful tactical element to the fights but can sometimes become a bit of a hack and slash akin to dynasty warriors.
Gone are the random monster encounters (thank god) as all enemies are on screen as you explore the island. The island itself is fairly large and made even more so by obstacles that can’t be moved till later in the game, essentially making areas unlockable with your progress. This does mean that you will find yourself returning to previous areas 2 or 3 times but the beautiful, colorful scenery, the range of environmental settings and the wide range of monsters means it very rarely feels repetitive. the grind of the game is actually quite pleasant.
Castaway village, your ‘base camp’ on the island is a wonderful constantly evolving game feature. starting off as a party of 3 around a campfire, the camp soon becomes a village as you rescue a tailor, a doctor a blacksmith etc. these characters provide important services such as weapons, armour, potions etc. and you can then complete side quests which improve the facilities around the village and therefore the equipment they make available to you.
Add this ‘village building feature’ alongside the village defense events, map completion and treasure chest collections and fishing and you really have an interesting mix of creative activities to flesh out the game. All in all Ys VII: Lacrimosa of Dana is a solid entry into the JRPG market that mixes retro and modern features together well. It’s not genre busting and it won’t blow your socks but it is reliable and enjoyable. It’s best to think of this game as putting on your favourite, comfortable slippers after a long day at work. not very exciting but thoroughly relaxing and enjoyable
Overall Score 7/10
Ys VII: Lacrimosa of Dana is released on 15th September for PC, PS4 and Vita