I should probably start of by saying that I have never played a Ys game before this one. Many of the podcasts that I listen too made mention of this port and usually had pretty amazing things to say about the series as a whole. Since the summer months are pretty slow when it comes to new releases, I decided that now might be the perfect time to pick this up and give it a try.
Like many, I usually stick with what I know and what I enjoy. I will be the first one in line for a new Kingdom Hearts, but will usually let the dust settle for an off the wall series before I spend my money and time. I will say that this doesn’t usually pan out well for me. I will usually get in late on a game that many deemed unplayable, and will only find out once I give up and say good bye to my $60.
However, after playing Ys VIII, all I can do is kick myself for not getting into the series sooner. I played it, non stop, from start to finish and had a blast with the 50+ hour campaign. I liked it so much that I actually tried to get 100% completion..which is saying a lot.
Ys VIII follows the continuing story of Adol Christian. Explorer and adventurer who always seems to get himself into perils via the open ocean and ships. I did some digging into the story behind the character, since I never played the games, and seriously…dude doesn’t need to be anywhere near water.
In Ys VIII, Adol and his companion Dogi have enlisted their services to a ship known as The Lombardia as simple deck hands in order to get safe passage across the sea. While on the ship, you are instructed to walk around and perform general security for the various patrons and make sure no funny business is being had. Once you walk around and introduce yourself to the various people, a mysterious creature attacks your ship and you are forced to defend the crew and the ship. Forces beyond your control force you to loose this battle and the ship is destroyed by the mysterious creature. You, along with everyone on board the Lombardia are sent into the ocean and awake on a mysterious island. Stranded and scattered, you and the friends you meet along the way must find the missing crew members and try to find a way off the island. But, this isn’t just a castaway adventure. During the game, you reveal some of the amazing history behind the island and battle prehistoric creatures.
The game is surprisingly engaging with the writing and story telling. It made you want to learn more and more about the characters as you survive together. Each character that you rescue could have missions for you to complete, which will open more information for you to learn about them. Each character felt unique and relatable in some form or fashion.
Ys VIII plays a lot like a modern Kingdom Hearts, without the mana….if that makes any sense.
So many games have the same type of “real time combat”, but this feels like a faster pace, combat oriented, action RPG with stylized combat, rather then typical “God of War” like hack and slash.
You can choose which of the four characters that you decide to have in your party at any point. This opens up different strategies as you fight monsters that are weak or strong to different styles of attacks.
While in battle, you will use your different fighting abilities, not unlike magic in Kindgom Hearts, which will fill your Extra meter. Once full, you will be able to unleash a powerful attack that usually lays waste to anything in your path.
I found the game to be pretty easy and generally just a good story driven RPG. I never felt like I had to do a major level grind in order to beat a boss and I never had a game over screen during my entire playthrough. The amount of items that you can have on your person will be more then enough to survive any long term battle and the ability to pause the game and use a item makes each encounter less stressful.
When you are not solving mysteries or locating crew members, you and your team can take part in a couple of mini games where you have to survive waves or enemies that are trying to attack your base, or take the fight directly to them and assault their nest. These modes are a great way to earn rare items and build up some levels.
The only aspect of the combat that got repetitive was the generation of the enemies. You can take the time to kill everyone in an area, but if you leave and come back, they will repopulate. It’s fine if you want to level up or get some rare materials, but it becomes a hassle if you are trying to back track or if you are trying to find a hidden area.
This game has some beautiful back drops and some good art design, but the Switch lacks the ability to render all the textures perfectly. I found my system start to lag and bog down when fighting a ton of enemies all at once and the frame rate would dip if I used my special on a handful of enemies.
The island is littered with different vistas for you to discover and a lot of them are actually pretty beautiful. The artist that created these view points should be commended, but won’t look as good as its Playstation predecessor.
The Switch will do all it can to make the game run as smoothly as possible, but will also sacrifice your battery in the process. There were too many times when I wanted to play undocked and just lounge around my house, but would only make it about a couple of hours before my system begged me to plug it in.
This is a pretty fun game to pick up and get really good at. The story is engaging and filled with some pretty amazing moments that will help make the 50+ hour gameplay much easier to get through. I’m not sure if I would actually replay this game, but give it a few years and a dead summer.