- System: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC (Steam), Switch
- Publisher: NIS America
- Developer: Nihon Falcom
- Release Date: February 2, 2021 (PS4, PS5) - PC and Switch TBA
- Pricing: $59.99
- Rating: T
- Genre: Adventure, Action, JRPG
- Players: 1
- Official Website: https://nisamerica.com/ys-ix/
Ys IX: Monstrum Nox - Combat Trailer (PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC)
Who it Caters to
If you like action role-playing games that are more concerned about the fights than they are about the story—and we're not saying the plot is weak, much on the contrary—but you also enjoy running and jumping around a semi-open world in search of monsters to grind and collectibles, this could be a game for you!
What to Expect
What you can expect from this game is a by-the-book JRPG with a strong focus on fast-paced combat and grinding that can also be enjoyed casually if you feel like making the least effort in the easiest difficulty levels.
Well, this is our main issue with Ys IX. This franchise was never the most visually stunning, so we all were skeptical when in 2016, Ys VIII finally ditched the top-down camera in favor of a true 3D adventure with a third-person perspective. In the end, they did an amazing job conveying the essence of the past 3 decades while updating how it all looks, but we were still waiting for a true leap of faith. Sadly, Monstrum Nox won't be remembered as the best-looking Ys...
Although it may sound harsh, Ys IX is closer to a mediocre game from the last decade than it is to more recent Japanese role-playing titles, not only because of the rough animations but mostly thanks to its boring environments, clipping objects and awful textures. We know some of you could ignore a good game just because of how poor their graphics are, yet although Ys IX is far from being unplayable, it's not as pleasant to the eye as we'd like it to be.
Drums and ominous bells are always epic, but we also loved the use of strings. There are some epic songs, some melancholic pieces, a few remixes of classic songs... and, of course, you can't have a JRPG OST without electric guitar solos and playful piano riffs. Ys IX: Monstrum Nox might not look that good, but it definitely sounds amazingly good!
That's how Adol's new alter ego, the Crimson King, was born. The start feels too rushed and nonsensical, full of events that don't have a reasonable explanation other than serving the plot, and yet, this new transformation is what gives life to Ys IX. Aprilis, the hooded lady, is the leader of the Monstrums, a group of cursed people she can summon to another dimension known as Grimwald Nox to fight the Lemures, powerful beasts that lurk around Balduw but can't be seen by regular people. But why is Adol the Monstrums' new addition and why are they forced by Aprilis to fight the Lemures? Well, you will discover all that at some point, and most importantly, you'll get to know who the Monstrums really are and how they feel about this curse that doesn't allow them to leave Balduq.
Balduq's underground prison is one giant maze full of passages that not even the officers in charge know fully, while the city is a semi-open world section with some blocked paths you can open later on. To be honest, there are several things that encourage you to explore every corner of the city, from side quests to shops and soon-to-be allies, but both the prison and the city feel too empty and boring design-wise. However, doing side quests is important if you want to fill the Nox bar and open new entrances to the Grimwald Nox, ultimately removing seals and opening access to new areas. Unlike previous games, raid sections (aka Grimwald Nox) will allow you to prepare yourself for the battles and are way less annoying; now all your companions will fight and help you in real time, but sometimes you even decide when to enter the Grimwald Nox.
If you are a casual player, you can just do the minimum and still enjoy the story. If you are a hardcore JRPG fan, then you can raise your affinity levels by giving presents to your companions, collect all azure petals, unlock all recipes, find all graffitis and chests on each part of the city, forge and upgrade new weapons, etc. That means over a hundred of hours of gameplay!
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
It features a cool soundtrack, noteworthy storytelling, and a lot of challenging battles against gigantic beasts that will test your button-mashing skills. Does this saga need to improve on a lot of things if they want to be relevant still? It sure does, but we're sure that despite all its flaws, all Ys fans will recognize the charm of it and enjoy themselves.
- Great episodic narrative and character development.
- Combat, as always, is incredibly fun.
- A lot of punishing difficluty options for hardcore players, and several boss fights are satisfyingly hard even in the easiest modes!
- Graphically, it looks like a mediocre game from the beginning of the past decade.
- Running around this lifeless prison city gets old really fast, especially with such boring room designs and textures.
Honey's Final Verdict:
If you want to try Ys IX: Monstrum Nox, it's already available on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, and if you're not sure about buying it, you can download the free demo. The PC and Switch versions of the game will be released at a later date.