A Solid Ys
Ys IX Monstrum Nox is the newest and latest entry in the Ys series of mainline games. It released on PS4 consoles in early 2021 where it would receive additional console releases later in the year. A couple of years later we now have Ys IX Monstrum Nox the first official release of a Ys game on PS5. It follows our beloved Ys Hero Adol Christin in a rather unfortunate predicament. After his many adventures, sailing the seas in search of hidden relics Adol now finds himself interrogated and under arrest, poor guy! Well not for long as of course, Adol escapes the clutches of prison where he finds himself injected with a power that turns him more powerful than normal and once outside finds out that the prison is arresting people on such unlawful charges. Adol then meets some other unlikely heroes who have been infused with the same power and he and the Monstrum who they are known as must uncover the secrets of the city who have a fear of the Monstrum being dangerous criminals.
Ys IX is a very different affair from past games in the series but definitely retains a lot of what makes the series good. Each of the characters that Adol befriends has their own personalities which are all very different. You have the good-natured White Cat and Hawk who has a very Hot-Blooded temper always wants to get into a fight. They all work well with the story’s narrative and Adol’s response to these personalities is worth the playtime alone. The game primarily takes place in the City of Balduq but not the full City to begin with. Much of the city is blocked off by an invisible force which must be unlocked by either progressing the story or by ridding Vortex Miasmas that appear before them. To do this the Monstrum are transferred to special battles where you must protect a crystal and are awarded for your efforts with loot based on your rank. Once these Miasmas disappear Balduq slowly becomes more accessible allowing you to explore slightly more of the city, this is one of my favourite features of Monstrum Nox as it kept me interested enough to explore the City but it never felt overwhelming and I knew I had to progress the Story if I wanted to continue exploring, and Balduq is a large city. At the beginning I actually thought the whole game would be based inside it but this isn’t the case. Once Adol is free of the prison he has a base set up on the outskirts in an old abandoned building which apparently none of the knights that are after him never seem to check.
There is much to do in the sprawling City of Balduq, The Monstrum are instilled with Gifts which are special powers and each Monstrum possesses a certain one. Adol can instantly warp himself to certain ledges and White Cat can run up the side of buildings, as you have access to more Monstrums it becomes clear that the City becomes even more accessible. There are many secrets that can be uncovered with the use of these powers and there are NPC’s some of which will reward you for exploring; for example finding so many Landmarks or for uncovering a certain percentage of the city itself. Battles are fast-paced and in most cases are over in seconds while collecting a plethora of different ingredients. Ingredients are used to upgrade weapons or are used to brew potions and healing items and create meals that give buffs such as extra experience or have a temporary health regen. There are many shops that increasingly become available as more of Balduq opens up also. Requests become available from your base or from NPC’s which can be completed straight away or not bearing in mind that there is a timer on these for example you will lose certain requests if you progress the story further. You can buy gifts for certain characters who dwell in your base who will gift you back, usually unique rewards in doing so. Balduq is a grand city and exploring it is so much fun, small tears can be found all over which act as battle points should you wish to grind. Dungeons exist within the City and these are acceptable in length and cleverly created to make use of Monstrums certain abilities to add depth and exploration to them. The game may seem rather easy from the offset but don’t let the generous amounts of Healing panels fool you.
Ys IX is rather easy, to begin with, but I would still recommend turning the difficulty up if you seek more of a Challenge. I set it to Hard and struggled with one of the early dungeon bosses due to some of the enemies using up all my healing items before, I was left with a couple of resurrection items and an experiencing boosting meal, I will definitely make sure I am well prepared before venturing into the next Labyrinth, Flying enemies are a nightmare in this game and some have some very hard to dodge attacks but when you do you it is satisfying to get the swoop in on them. Bosses are fantastic as they generally have large pools of health and do require some thinking to take down and have phases during the fight where they become more powerful usually when they start to become low on health. My biggest surprise was when I found out I had to use my Monstrums Gifts to actually keep myself alive and dodge certain mechanics of boss fights entirely. This makes Ys IX a grind if you really want it or an easy adventure should you want it. Ys IX caters to all players abilities.
Ys IX has some great music but nothing in comparison to what we have had in previous games in the series. The Balduq theme is certainly memorable as it will be the on you hear the most as you explore and spend most of your time in the City. Ys IX doesn’t win any awards in terms of graphics either but what it lacks there is made up for in spades in everything else. With Ys IX having a PS5 release you may think the game has some extra added options in terms of performance but this just isn’t the case. While I definitely feel the game runs better without much slowdown there is nothing that sets it apart from its PS4 release apart from the free added DLC and the addition of an extra trophy list so if you are itching for the experience all over again then this may be worth it for you, however the PS4 release in my mind is still just as strong. Ys IX is an absolute solid addition to the Ys series and possibly one of my favourites. There is a lot of charm in the characters, story and the depth in each of these makes for an unforgettable experience.
A PlayStation 5 Review Code was provided by NIS America