Return to the Isle of Seiren.
Ah, Ys VIII. You, the critical success the Ys series enjoyed, are back. The brilliance that shone brighter than nearly any other JRPG last year on the PS4 and PS Vita is now available on the PC. To think of all the possibilities at the fingertips of PC users in a game like Ys VIII is wonderful, and the avenues of access for users is pretty wide. The only thing holding back this gem on the PC is a plethora of technical issues. But this doesn’t mean that you should stay away from Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana on PC; no, NISAmerica has already released some fixes and are working on more. Follow along as we review the subtleties and flaws of this PS4 to PC port.
Before we hop right into the technical side of things, let’s talk story. Ys VIII tells a dual tale of a land that once was and an island where no one leaves. The plot follows both Adol Christin and Dana, each unique in their own times and separated by millenia. Adol, lampooned upon the cursed Isle of Seiren when the vessel he was working on came under assault by an enormous, prehistoric beast, must band together with the other survivors in order to escape an island with a reputation for death. Dana, an inhabitant of the very same island years upon years into the past, serves as a seer of sorts for her massive city and foresees the imminent destruction of her world. As the player progresses through the story, the storylines begin to blur and relate, and the overall experience becomes a grand and memorable adventure.
Gameplay on the PC can be tackled through a variety of approaches. I chose to use my Steam controller – a device that I’ve begun to grow to love – but players can use other traditional controllers, along with your standard keyboard and mouse setup. Typically, I’ve found the Steam controller tough to use on action oriented games, but as I’ve come to grow accustomed to the controller’s mouse pad, my experiences have improved. In the case of Ys VIII, the mouse pad offers a fairly sensitive rotation that spins at an appropriate rate. I never found myself unable to move the way I needed in combat, and all of the controls are mapped similarly to when I played the game on my PS4. On the whole, controls via the Steam Controller (and I’d imagine a traditional Xbox 360 controller or something similar) were excellent. I’ve heard of a few players having issue when using the mouse and keyboard setup, but if the sensitivity is similar to the Steam mouse pad, then it shouldn’t be an issue. Additionally, having a key or button to lock on to your target helps eliminate any excess camera movements.
Visually, Ys VIII looked average on my PC. I run a decent PC rig that’s only a couple years old, and I experienced no screen tearing or stuttering, and the game ran smoothly. When I compare it to the performance on my PS4 Pro, I felt like the graphical fidelity felt a little lacking. Still, I ran the game at 1080p with no flaws and am comparing it to an upscaled 4k experience; there’s bound to be a difference. Either way – it still holds its charm that sucks players in. Likewise, the sound in Ys VIII is phenomenal. It’s easily one of the best in game soundtracks I’ve experienced in a while, and my return to the Isle of Seiren confirmed that. I finished the game a few months after its initial release, and the soundtrack is already inspiring nostalgia. It ranks up there among some of the best, and it absolutely enhances the final product.
Here’s where some of the technical issues come in, however. Ys VIII for PC is very clearly a PS4 port. It’s so evident that the team who ported it didn’t change the tutorial screens. While using my Steam controller, the game explained all of the button prompts with PS4 controller inputs. While that minor complaint isn’t really an issue in and of itself, I suffered a number of game breaking glitches that forced my play time to a halt until they were patched through. On more than one occasion, the game would either crash and stop responding (shortly after, for example, I found Captain Barbarosa after defeating the ‘first’ boss). This issue wasn’t terrible, but it happened consistently in the exact same spot five times in a row. Since I’ve already beaten the game, I opted to press start and skip the cinematic. Unfortunately, during the very next cut scene, the game froze during the middle of a screen transition. My client didn’t stop responding or crash, but the game itself froze. Since I prefer playing in full screen mode, I couldn’t actually make my way back to my desktop, and the task manager wouldn’t open up over the screen. After a few minutes of fussing with the game, I had to force shut down my PC. That ended my Ys session for the day.
It’s a shame, too, because my experience to those two points was flawless. Everything worked as intended until then, and then I was effectively prevented from pushing on through the game. The biggest issue, though, is that there are plenty of PC players who don’t own a PS4 and don’t have the luxury of skipping cinematics in order to play the game. And while the localization team already fixed the translation issues that made some questing difficult in the PS4/Vita version, skipping entire cinematics could pose the exact same conundrum. To this point, the crew at NIS America have begun patching through my issues, and I have been able to play on without further hindrances. I’ve been using the beta preview mode in order to do so, but the crew at NIS America have been updating Steam users daily.
If you’ve been eagerly awaiting the launch of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy this now. Any residual issues should be patched through quickly, and the game itself is well worth a play. If you really don’t trust the PC version of the game, check out our PS4 review to see if you’d prefer it there (should you own a PS4). There’s no reason to be passing on one of the best JRPGs of this generation of games.