Nihon Falcom had big shoes to fill when they originally made Ys IX: Monstrum Nox. Having come off the success of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA, player expectations were at an all-time high. Despite this, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox was another critically successful entry in the long standing franchise. With the recent push for modern generation versions, is Ys IX: Monstrum Nox still a winner, or was it merely good for the time?
Ys IX: Monstrum Nox does a fantastic job of immediately drawing players into the world. After Adol breaks out of prison, he meets a mysterious woman that talks of destiny before giving him a mysterious power. This changes his appearance, grants access to greater powers and abilities. Shortly after you learn this mysterious gift has made you what is known as a Monstrum.
From here the narrative expands in a couple different directions. These include figuring out what your destiny is, locating the other Monstrum, and learning more about them. Part of what makes all of this work is how well Ys IX: Monstrum Nox subverts expectations. This also leads to a climatic conclusion that is well worth the road to get there.
Gameplay is relatively standard for an action RPG like Ys. There is an attack button, dodge, special attacks, and some actions that enhance movement. What keeps combat fresh is a good sense of risk/reward.
What an Interesting Crew
Most fights come down to a couple simple concepts. Learn enemy rotations, anticipate their attacks, followed by punishing. Observant players should have no issue defeating most foes, as their actions are clearly telegraphed. There is also a good mixture of fast/slow moves, so it isn’t enough to just watch for certain signs. Sometimes you’ll need to quickly dodge if you want to survive.
As you defeat enemies you’ll collect resources that can be used to enhance a characters build. It’s good to understand what you want to do, as each character features some kind of gimmick that largely dictates how they’re played. It sounds more complicated than it is, with the core system being pretty manageable.
Not the Most Detailed Bunch
Outside of combat there are towns and other locations to explore. Due to Adol’s powers it’s extremely easy to navigate around the city. Paying attention to certain grabs will also reveal secrets, or good vantage points that are always important to find.
While all of this stuff is great, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox still isn’t the most impressive looking game. This version plays a bit better, though most locations look rather bland, especially next to noticeably better heroes. Thankfully, things are not as bad, but this is one area where Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is weakest.
Ys IX: Monstrum Nox (PS5) Review Verdict
Fans of Ys and action RPGs will likely have a blast with Ys IX: Monstrum Nox. It’s a unique story that builds to a conclusion that will leave you wanting more. Combat isn’t the deepest, yet that doesn’t stop it from asking more from players than simply hitting attack repeatedly. It would be nice if this version had better graphics, but the overall package is good enough where it’s still well worth the visit.
[Editor’s Note: Ys IX: Monstrum Nox was reviewed on PlayStation 5, and a copy was provided to us for review purposes.]