Developer: Nihon Falcom
Publisher: NIS America
Platforms: PS4, Switch, PC
Reviewed On: PS4 Pro
Release Date: 02/02/2021
Reviewed By: Keith Lavelle
Review Rush was kindly supplied with a review code.
Here we are with Nihon Falcoms latest installment of their long running Ys series. Ys IX: Monstrum Nox here we see returning protagonist Adol Christin winding up in the Prison City of Balduq, where he is arrested when reaching the gate. After escaping from the prison with the help of a mysterious woman, she curses him to be a Monstrum and fight in the Grimwald Nox. Unable to leave the city now, Adol can do nothing but rid Balduq of the evil festering in its walls.
One thing I need to know is how old is Adol really? He never seems to age and has been on so many adventures, each vastly different from the last. One thing we can count on is Falcom getting Adol in to something different each time he goes out to do anything. Here in Ys IX I am glad to see there is a darker tone to the over-all story and also that he is not the plucky hero but a wanted fugitive.
Fans of the Ys series will find them self right at home with the game play elements on offer. If you played Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, then the game play will feel very familiar. Adol will need to find allies of all types to help be that people of the city or wrongly accused prisoners. These allies will not only sell items and provide upgrades for weapons and so on, but are also used to help Adol and the other Monstrum’s fight.
The battle system is one area where Ys IX shines, with its familiar fast paced hack and slash party swapping nature. Each Monstrum has his or hers own fighting style broken in to Slash, Pound and Peirce damage. Depending on the enemy type, some Monsturm’s will do improved damage. Adding a layer of tactical play to a fast-paced ARPG. With the action being responsive and simple to pick up, fights can turn in to a blur of colour and flashy moves in no time. Combat feels satisfying in every encounter.
One of the biggest drawbacks and one of Ys IX’s biggest attractions is the city of Balduq. On the negative side it is bland, with most of the areas being gray and lifeless. Flacom tried to make Balduq oppressive and negative. They got the negative bit right it’s so boring. There could have been a splash of colour here and there, but nope. Even the dungeons suffer from this bland problem. The overall graphics are not the best and do not seem to have advanced from the previous outing in fact I would say they are worse. This is a disappointment.
On the flip side, Bladuq is amazing for traversal. When Adol gets more Monstrums on his side, the City of Balduq is the perfect playground for these cursed individuals with Adol’s Crimson line pulling him to rooftops, to being able to run up walls and glide. The city boosts many ways to get around. This also goes for the dungeons needing the unique powers to traverse the areas. On top of all that, there are tons of side activities and hidden treasures to find. On top of respawning enemy points, Balduq will keep you busy.
Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is a fantastic game with the refined battle system coming to life here. With a wonderful story and interesting cast. I just wished the City and overall graphics could have been tided up, I believe in you for Ys X (if there is one).
However, this is still a must have for Ys fans and ARPG fans alike.