Ys VIII Story Review
Ys 8 is an action RPG developed by Nihon Falcom. It’s a series and a developer that’s been around for a very long time, but a lot of Westerners haven’t heard of them as much as Square (and Enix). While Square, Enix, etc (they were two different companies before a merger) focused more on turn-based games, Nihon Falcom started with Action RPGs as far back as the NES. As you can guess, it was bumper cars and very rough, but Nihon Falcom has been at the Action RPG game for long time.
My time with Ys 8 started out somewhat disappointing. For about the first 15 hours, I thought it was a decent game, but nothing exceptional. The combat was great, it’s very responsive to input. You have two defensive options, a roll, and a guard, Similar to games like Bayonetta, when you time your dodge (or guard) just right, time slows down and you get a little bit of time when everything else is moving slowly around you.
Ys 8 gives you a basic attack, holding down the guard button and then pressing one of the four face buttons (depending on what you’re playing on) does an assigned special move. Enemies are in the world and you can fight them without having to go into a battle screen or anything.
A fair warning, Ys 8’s localization can struggle. It was so bad, they had to redo it. But this review isn’t about that. I fear the localization for Ys 8 being so bad has made the first thing people think about when they see Ys 8 is the bad localization.
But, onwards from that, the start of the game turned me off, and I’m glad I gave it a second chance. Ys 8 suffers from a lot of issues that smaller developers have in their games. I would consider Nihon Falcom to be an AA or even A game studio. While Ys presented itself as a great game, issues like invisible walls, frame rate drops, and lack of polish pushed me away.
The rest of this Ys 8 review will focus on the story. I’ll do my best not to spoil anything, but I can’t make any promises.
I set the game down, for a month or two. The main story at the beginning of the game starts out basic, you’re on a ship in the ocean, you are attacked by a giant monster, and you wash ashore a deserted island. The first half of the game, it seems innocent and simple enough, you’re on an island, there are some unknown monsters you’ve discovered that hate you, and you’re doing everything you can to escape the island. Finding other members of the ship, gathering supplies, etc. It seemed like an interesting concept, but it wasn’t enough to draw me in.
About halfway through the game, the story really develops. It takes a pretty drastic turn, even borrowing a bit from games like Chrono Trigger, where things from the past affect the current game world. Overall, as like a lot of Japanese stories, you end up saving the world in the end. But, it’s a bit more humble than most other endings. It’s not like you end up some sort of famous hero, your Adol, just an adventurer out to explore. It was an extremely welcome change from a lot of games where you’re the hero and in the end, everyone is in awe of you.
The part that impressed me about Ys 8’s story is the ending. Well, endings. There’s three, and they all depend on how well you’ve treated the castaway village you’ve started with other survivors, as well as quests you’ve done and how you’ve gotten along with other members of the crew.
There’s a bad ending, where you have a bad reputation with the crew, didn’t explore much of the island and just kind of power through the story. There’s a normal ending, the one which I got, which was very well done. You know that feeling when something bad happens, and you feel you could have done more to stop it? That’s what the normal ending of Ys 8 feels like. Which is great, because the good ending, which I haven’t gotten yet, ties up a lot of those loose ends.
The ending of Ys 8, and the multiple different versions, made the entire experience of the game feel worth it. You require 200 reputation points to get the good ending. I beat it at 185 points. Seeing how close I was really made me feel like all the quests, exploration, and things outside the main storyline I did was worth it. Because the alternative, if you haven’t made enough reputation points, is to restart the entire game and try and be a better person throughout it.
Overall, I almost gave up on Ys 8. The combat felt good, but a lot of things were rough. Even after NISA re-doing the localization, I saw a major typo at the end of the game in an in-game prompt. I went back to it one day because I was bored, and the story picked up and complimented the excellent combat and gave me a lot of enjoyment out of Ys 8.
I have spent about 65 hours playing Ys 8 before my first clear. Then a few more hours to get my reputation up and to beat the final boss again. For the price and length, it’s fair for a $60 game, but because of some of the issues with the game, like invisible walls, wait for a sale. Ys 9 is coming out soon, however.
I’ll end this review of Ys 8 with one last piece of advice if you pick it up. I played it on Hard mode, and it offered a fair amount of challenge, but not enough to die to big bosses often. I think I only struggled with a few of them. If you’re used to action RPGs, Hard Mode is not that hard, and I suggest starting out on a minimum difficulty of Hard.