Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is the ninth title in the long-running Ys franchise. Once again our hero Adol Christin is at the centre of an enthralling tale but this time, Nihon Falcom have truly outdone themselves. Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is a ridiculously good game for a number of reasons and if you’re a fan of JRPGs at all, you definitely need to pick up this game. I’ll get into why shortly.
Ys IX: Monstrum Nox aesthetically is quite a departure from what Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana was. While Lacrimosa of Dana had far more varied JRPG coastal maps and level design, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox throws that out the window and features an open-world large castle city region environment for players to adventure in.
Our main playable character, Adol, visits the city of Balduq with his friend Dogi. However, at the city gates, there’s a roadblock of sorts with guards all around. One set of guards addresses Adol and Dogi and Adol is arrested for suspicious activities. Given the fact that Adol has found himself in a number of very suspicious activities over the course of his adventures, it’s kinda not surprising at all that the guards would want to investigate him.
Adol lands himself in prison and while attempting to break out of prison, he gets attacked by a mysterious robed lady named Aprillis. This lady curses our hero and turns him into a Monstrum. What exactly is a Monstrum you might be asking yourself? Well, to put it simply, it’s a person with some sort of magical power or “Gift”. Having turned into a Monstrum, Adol undergoes a transformation and his entire outfit changes along with his current sword. More information about Monstrums and the curse you were just inflicted with is explained later on in the story.
Speaking of the story, the story of Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is the game’s best feature. Ys IX: Monstrum Nox tells a tale which slowly but surely introduces you to new characters. Each of these characters have their own chapter dedicated to them and their personalities and backstories are explored quite well. Players will quickly grow to like these characters as they play with them throughout the game (Krysha is great!). Each character has their own set of skills and players will need to swap between characters to defeat foes. Fairly standard JRPG fare but the presentation and storytelling in Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is where it excels. The overall storytelling aspects of the game seems to have taken a leaf out of the Trails series book and it’s enjoyable to see that Nihon Falcom are applying what they’ve learned from that franchise to the Ys series. It’s just a shame that not all character text in the game is voiced.
The main antagonistic force in Ys IX: Monstrum Nox are ferocious beasts and other creatures from the alternate dimension of Grimwald Nox. These monsters are threatening Balduq, and Adol and the other Monstrums cannot leave the city until they uncover the mystery behind Grimwald Nox. Without spoiling more, the story of Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is well paced with each chapter featuring a tonne of gameplay interspersed with story. Ys IX: Monstrum Nox’s sidequests are also pretty solid with effort having been put into them. These aren’t lacklustre waste of time quests as we often see in JRPGs. These quests explore the game’s lore further and you’ll actually want to do them.
There are some gripes to be had though. Between some heavy combat segments, there’s quite a bit of text to get through which delves deeper into the lore. This might put off some gamers who just want to get back into adventuring and using their Monstrum powers in full-on action packed combat and exploration gameplay. This is especially more noticeable given the fact that the actual gameplay of Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is so enjoyable.
There’s a massive level of verticality and speed on offer in Ys IX: Monstrum Nox with players being able to run at high speeds, double jump, propel themselves forward towards grapple points as well as run up buildings. It’s so much fun doing this in-game that you’ll spend a lot of time just messing around in the environments doing this just for the pure enjoyment factor. Kudos to Nihon Falcom for implementing this into the game.
Combat gameplay in Ys IX: Monstrum Nox can be seen as a mixed bag. This is definitely an Ys game alright. The tried and trusted formula of hacking and slashing away while using skills for additional damage is still here. The game however excels thanks to the 4 skills you’re able to set for your characters and their interactions in battle with the enemies you face off against. The battle system is extremely similar to the one seen in Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana so if you’ve played that game and loved it, you’ll be getting more of the same here. Just with added verticality and speed to make things a lot spicier.
There’s also the fact that you can use a “Crimson Line” ability which pulls you closer to enemies. This is great in battle and has to be tried out to see just how good it is when fighting large numbers of enemies. Gamers who want exponentially more variation in combat might be slightly displeased. Fans of the franchise however will definitely be happy to know that “Well if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” seems to have been applied to Ys IX: Monstrum Nox’s combat and I for one am extremely here for it since I loved the straightforward real time battle system in Lacrimosa of Dana. Ys IX: Monstrum Nox thankfully features numerous difficulty options so if you’re struggling with some of the harder difficulties you can opt in to playing on easy for a more story-driven, less grindy experience.
Graphically, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox looks great on PC with tonnes of flashy effects. Especially your Monstrum skills in battle. Enemy designs are varied and so too are the environments. With all that said though even on the highest graphics settings, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox does not have mind-blowing visuals. It looks rather similar to Lacrimosa of Dana but there’s been a palette and theme swap with far more darker visuals and a gothic aesthetic throughout. Lacrimosa of Dana’s island aesthetic and vibrant colours put it in stark contrast to the darker world of Monstrum Nox and this alone might dissuade some gamers from picking this title up. Don’t expect eye-popping, gorgeously breathtaking visuals here.
The soundtrack of Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is absolutely amazing. The game makes extensive use of some extremely well done orchestral themes and atmospheric music. There’s plenty of tracks that play in battles and levels which are catchy. The entire soundtrack is well worth listening to. The voice acting in Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is also great with numerous seasoned veteran voice actors taking up roles in the game in both Japanese and English. As previously mentioned though, it’s a shame that not all character text is completely voiced throughout.
Overall, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox doesn’t break the mould of the Ys franchise. It sticks to a tried and trusted method of combat gameplay with some additional spice in the form of verticality. The graphics on PC aren’t mind-blowing and performance in-game can be a bit choppy when things get hectic. If you’re a fan of the Ys franchise, or Trails franchise, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox will definitely appeal to you. If you’re a newcomer, I might suggest playing through Lacrimosa of Dana first before diving into Ys IX: Monstrum Nox. Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is well worth picking up and will take you around 45 hours or more to complete depending on what difficulty you’re playing on.
- Developers: Nihon Falcom, Engine Software, PH3 GmbH
- Publishers: Nihon Falcom, Nippon Ichi Software, NIS America
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Google Stadia
Review on Nintendo Switch, you can purchase your copy here for £53.99.
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