Ok, so this is cheating a bit. While I did get a chance to get my hands dirty with Ys VIII‘s first playable English demo this year at NISA’s booth, I actually already played and beat the title when it originally released in Japan last July. As such, although I’ll try and keep my thoughts to things present in the demo only, I can confidently say that the title should absolutely be worth your attention when it finally releases in the west later this year. Expect a proper review from us following the NISA release very shortly.
…that being said, Ys VIII obviously takes more than a little bit of its DNA from 2013’s Ys: Memories of Celceta. The game uses the same “party system” as that title, complete with each character having their own specific element tied to their attacks, and the combat is of course very similar to it as well. The basic attack patterns, the guard, the dodge – as well as their “flash” equivalents – are almost indistinguishable from their predecessors. What Ys VIII adds to the formula is twofold. First, the game is now a more proper 3rd-person view instead of the more isometric angle that both Ys Seven and Ys: Memories of Celceta employed. Second, Adol and his party members can jump again.
While the jump alone doesn’t make combat feel too different at times, it definitely adds just a little more depth to it, and makes world traversal much more fun compared to previous titles in the series. The area playable in the demo – the Raised Coral Forest – features an extra emphasis on vertical level design, that is reflected throughout most of the rest of the game. The game played at a crisp and smooth 1080p/60fps on PlayStation 4, and although I didn’t test the Vita version during our appointment, from firsthand experience with the Japanese release I can confirm that the game runs well on Sony’s handheld, too. Unfortunately, I was unable to test the PC version of the title out yet, as it is still currently in development, and QA hadn’t properly begun for the project either.
Much like other Nihon Falcom games, Ys VIII’s soundtrack is especially great. If you’re already familiar with Falcom that shouldn’t be a surprise, but if you aren’t yet a fan of the Ys franchise rest assured that the title has one of the best overall soundtracks in the series, of a series which has always been known for their fantastic soundtracks. I’m looking forward to seeing NISA’s work on the title in full, when Ys VIII releases for the West this September.
If you want to know more about this and other announcements happening at E3 then be sure to check out our E3 2017 Coverage Hub.