Review – YS VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana (PS5)
YS is what you’d call a seasoned veteran, having made its debut back in 1987 on the PC-8801. Throughout the years, the franchise has gone to amass quite the loyal fandom that vehemently recommends it as a top Action RPG – and you know what, they’re not wrong. This title, without a doubt, is an addictive concoction of hack-and-slash bliss. Like Diablo and Borderlands before it, there’s a healthy amount of looting mixed in, too. Both of these ideologies come together to create a murder fest of fun. This isn’t a typical coverage piece, though. I won’t be diving into an extensive analysis of gameplay and writing. If you crave that, check out our original review for YS VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana. My only interest is the technical aspects, what with being on PlayStation 5 now. I mean, it’s superior, obviously, but how so exactly?
I said I wouldn’t get into literary prowess in a deep capacity, but nothing about a paragraph. Plain and simple, the plot’s adequate. Nothing about it is going to blow your socks off – surprises are sporadic. The narrative is a by-the-numbers affair, and if I’m being blunt, it’s imaginatively generic. That said, I’d argue that’s precisely why YS, in general, is charming as hell. It effortlessly teleports me to my youth once again when JRPGs weren’t necessarily fussed about having a layered story – they were straightforward yet well-told. An apt way to describe it is that, just like a guilty pleasure, I felt fulfilled. I was pleased, and honestly, watching the beats unfold before my eyes never felt like a slog. It was the complete opposite, motivating me enough to continue. The banter came off as organic, too, and conversations flowed. What may deter some is a reliance on tropes.
For those that partook in YS VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana on Nintendo Switch, don’t expect a substantial visual glow-up. Even with a much more powerful console, the differences here are minimal. It shouldn’t come as any surprise, though, because back on the hybrid, YS already had a rather simplistic look. Still, two significant alterations are immediately noticeable upon booting. For starters, the PlayStation 2 aesthetic is refined, and character models get a brand new coat of polish. They’re no longer blurry and now have a pristine, crystal-clear appearance. Thanks to that, the detail in their clothing receives a slight boost to its visibility. The foliage scattered around the island also benefits a tad. There’s a good bit of tree rework that was only made possible thanks to the beefier CPU. The colours are vibrant, popping from the screen and punching me directly in the face without mercy.
Now, I profess my undying admiration for the little handheld that could, but since buying a PS5, one glaring truth is evident – resolution discrepancy is staggering. On next-generation hardware, the anime vibe YS VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana strives to nail is damn-near perfected. I also retain that nostalgic feeling in the pit of my stomach thanks to the game maintaining the glorious PS2 graphical fidelity. To truly understand the improvements seen in this edition, however, one has only to take a gander at the shadows. Upon approaching them, there’s no longer insane pixelation on the outer edges – I could easily count every pixel before. The visual integrity was straining to display correctly, but with this port, that’s not the case. It’s solid, allowing players to immerse themselves further into the world. Any roughness in the environment has also been replaced with utmost vividness, making everything look lush and full.
Now, having grown up during the infancy of gaming when 30fps was not only accepted but pretty much an expectation, I’ve zero qualms with Nintendo Switch’s performance. It could handle swift action without difficulty. During my leisure time with YS, I didn’t have stutters to speak of. Even after putting it through the wringer by abusing the usage of special techniques, it was sturdy and made the slaughter an absolute delight – it felt climatically blissful. When quickly shuffling through playable characters in my party, those 30 frames were the reason it didn’t look snappy. Still, I could exploit my enemy’s weaknesses without disrupting the stream of combat. A bit strange heaping praise on the hybrid variant on a port review, but there’s a method to that madness. Imagine the buttery movement awaiting on an objectively far more robust platform. If that isn’t enticing enough, consider 60 to 120fps.
I won’t lie; it took a bit of time to get accustomed to the button layout. Now I reckon it won’t be an issue for many, especially if you’ve already dabbled in the Nintendo Switch version of YS VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana. See, the placement on both controllers is nearly identical. Thanks to that, it made transitioning seamless, thus making it easy to adjust. Dodging is always assigned to the shoulders, while the bottommost button is for jumping. Yes, the absence of a dedicated start and select on the PS5 did cause some confusion, but it’s nothing I didn’t eventually wrap my head around. Suppose the default scheme isn’t to your fancy, then great news. Prompts are customizable, increasing intuitiveness. Once I changed things to my preference, I began cruising. The responsiveness is sublime, too, with zero input. It’s a delight!
As I’ve established, the technical differences between PS5 and Nintendo Switch are irrefutable, but when it comes to personal taste, the narrative skews. Before I get into that nonsense, I must point out there’s zero extra content – no additional dungeon, recruits, or weapons. For anyone attracted by costumes, well, that’s here and accounted for. The selection isn’t a massive one, but it includes the patented swimsuits for degenerates – don’t be ashamed and embrace it. There’s also a sprinkling of valuable items meant to help kickstart the journey. Sure, at the end of the day, none of these bonuses come close to comparing to the offerings of other ports, but hey, it’s something. If you ask me, the PS5 variant is the modern approach, while the hybrid goes for that retro look. Since, in my life, portability is king (and I like the old-school filter), my vote goes to Switch.
The PS5 port of YS VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is a joyous romp that profits immensely from 60fps. No one can dispute how much the silky transitions and animations leave a person salivating in awe. Hell, the mediocre visuals of the original plus the unbridled power of these machines meant character movement and attacks can effortlessly surpass the coveted 60fps, reaching heights that touch 120fps. Of course, given it’s nigh impossible to purchase Sony’s next-generation console, I’m still going to suggest Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana for Nintendo Switch. Sure, almost everything about it falls behind by comparison, but it’s sufficient for that satisfying experience. I should note that based on preliminary tests and my goldfish memory, I don’t believe there’s any censorship either, or at least it isn’t too prevalent to catch my attention. Falcon’s complete artistic vision seems to be intact.
The refinement is there and every issue from the Nintendo Switch version is gone. There’s no mistaking this is the most visually impressive edition of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana.
While simple, the gameplay loop is super addictive. There’s fighting monsters and getting materials. Then turning those same materials in to craft. The only downfall is some may find the cycle gets repetitive.
The music is where Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana truly shines. I didn’t mind the voice acting, but there were a good amount of points that could have been delivered with more oomph. The intended impact of the scene was watered down by not having it.
Fun Factor: 10
I adored the loop. It made for brisk action of cutting up my enemies and then going back to craft better weapons and equipment. There are hardcore modes for anyone looking for a challenge too!
Final Verdict: 9.0
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is available now on PS4, PS5, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, and Android.
Reviewed on PS5.
A copy of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana was provided by the publisher.