A new Ys title isn't far away from release, with this one coming west for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in September courtesy of NIS America. At E3 in Los Angeles, Pascal Tekaia had the chance to check out what Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is all about.
What do you do when NIS America hands you a controller and tells you to play through a section of the next installment in Nihon Falcom's long-running RPG series, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana? Why, shut up and start playing, of course.
On this episode of "The Life of Adol", the series protagonist finds himself and his companions shipwrecked on a cursed island. Surviving means building a community with the other survivors, and breaking the curse holding sway over the island. However, there's another wrinkle: Adol starts to see visions of a woman named Dana, who lived on the island sometime in the past. Players will hop back and forth in time, controlling both Adol and Dana in their own separate gameplay segments.
The demo kicks in sometime after the initial shipwreck, as Adol and his companions Sahad and Laxia are patrolling the monster-infested area known as the Raised Coral Forest. Basic combat is simple and smooth, with characters able to lock on to enemies and perform attacks or jump and dodge out of the way. Players can cycle through any of the three available characters at will at any time, even during combat, with the other two controlled by the AI. This quickly becomes important as some enemies are weaker towards certain types of weapon, be it Adol's basic melee, Sahad's brute force, or Laxia's quick and darting fencing style.
There are plenty of additional options available for combat outside of the basics. Characters can perform jump attacks, for example, which, in Sahad's case, means smashing all his considerable weight down from above, seat-first. Each character also has up to four slots available to equip previously-learned special skills to make life easier. Perhaps it was due to me not being aware of this that I started having a hard time, and I instead devised a new strategy to see me through this demo: running for the hills.
Just past a particularly nasty baddie — a giant, overgrown crab with lethal pincer attacks — flanked by a whole cadre of other crustacean-esque monsters, Adol's group runs into two fellow survivors, one of them in need of medical attention. After a cinematic, in which we see the community-building aspect of the game when Adol's long-time friend Dogi agrees to take the two back to camp, the group continues to forge ahead, on the search for another survivor who has been seen further up ahead.
I didn't have to go more than a few steps before it was time for my first boss. In a lovely open spring – the whole demo up to this point has looked lovely, drenched in vibrant colors and smooth animations – Serpentus, a snapping turtle of gargantuan proportions, stood waiting for me covered in what can only be described as orb-like, pulsing pustules. Despite his unsavory habit of launching the pulsating sacs at me to slow my movements, and his constantly whipping tail and snapping jaw, I slowly started to whittle down his health. It helps that at that point I had finally discovered how to use my skills, redeeming myself slightly from my earlier bouts of outright cowardice.
With Serpentus dispatched, the demo let me move on a little bit further. Before I called it a day, Adol discovered a pair of gloves on the far side of the spring, which bestows the party with the ability to climb up certain vines growing in the environment and reach new locations. This marked the end of my time with the game, but it showed something I hadn't seen much of in the demo up until that point: importance placed on exploration rather than just combat.
One last thing I didn't get a chance to see in action but learned about is the fairly substantial crafting system in place in Ys VIII. Using items found in the environments by breaking rocks, slashing flowers and defeating enemies, Adol will find plenty of materials. Using these, players will be able to both craft items to use in battle as well as upgrade their weapons.
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is due to ship on September 12, 2017 (September 15 in Europe). It will be available for PC, PlayStation 4, and Vita. It will also contain voice acting in both English and Japanese for specific scenes throughout the game.