- Developer: NIHON FALCOM
- Publisher: NIS America
- Release Date: 06/07/2021
- Price: £53.99 / $59.99
- Review code Provided by NIS America
Introducing: Ys IX Monstrum Nox Review
Over the last few years I find it more and more rare that a game completely captures me to the point that I lose track of time and play into the early hours of the morning. But, that’s exactly what happened when I was working up my review of Ys IX Monstrum Nox. Before I knew it, I had sunk over forty hours into the game and was itching for more. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it a masterpiece, but it’s pretty darn close. As far as Adol’s adventures go, this one will stick with me for some time.
The Monstrums of Balduq
The story was compelling and griping in its own right. There’s a lot to like in the Ys series and seeing Adol continue his adventures is always a joy. You never know what kind of trouble he’ll get into and Ys IX didn’t disappoint. There are a lot of twists and turns and I had a hard time predicting what was going to happen next. As far as the story goes, this one is as memorable as it was exciting.
Ys IX opens with Adol imprisoned as a potential threat against the Romun empire. Adol wastes no time escaping his jail cell only to land himself in a different sort of prison. On his way to freedom he encounters a mysterious woman who curses him with a super power. Though he’s given superhuman abilities, they come at the cost of keeping him confined to the town of Balduq. Adol soon learns that these powers have another cost. An ancient evil on a parallel plane is birthing monsters at an alarming rate. In order to quell these creatures, Adol and a handful of others like him have to defeat them before they emerge in the real world.
Slowly Adol befriends his super powered compatriots, known as monstrums, and starts to unveil a more sinister plot. The story is expertly crafted with an endearing cast who stretch beyond the six playable characters. Falcom have proven once again that they have an incredible attention to detail in all aspects of building a world and story.
The White Cat’s Melancholy
Monstrum Nox is an action RPG which primarily takes place in one large city. Battles are real time and utilize various skills to give an exciting blend of customization and action. At a later point in the game you’ll be able to pick from six protagonists with unique abilities. Swapping around made battles fun as there are a lot of styles to try out. Not only is there a lot of variety in combat, but enemies are vastly different and require creative approaches. The boss battles were so varied and fun that I even reloaded a few so my son could jump in and take a shot. Once you complete the game you unlock a time attack where you can fight any of the previous bosses which is highly contagious.
Outside of the standard battles is the Grimwald Nox. This alternate dimension is key to the story and offers two new takes on the gameplay. Though if you’ve played Ys VIII, then this will be familiar. In the Grimwald Nox, you’re presented with either a siege or purge level. During siege battles, your team of six (with support characters lending skills from the sidelines) have to keep a pillar safe from enemy damage as wave after wave assaults you. Purge levels have orbs scattered around the board that you need to destroy within a time limit.
Between the standard combat with engaging boss battles and the Grimwald Nox levels, there’s a lot to keep Ys IX from becoming monotonous. Plus exploration adds an element of platforming to the game which requires the use of special abilities from each party member. The White Cat has the ability to scale walls by running straight up them, The Hawk can soar from point to point while The Renegade allows you to melt into the floor to get under tight cracks. You don’t gain all of these traits at once and progression feels natural. Likewise, you can’t roam the entire city from the start. The curse keeps Adol and friends restricted to certain areas. Ys IX uses these different aspects of gameplay to create a fun experience that makes time fly. Thankfully you can save nearly anytime, so if you have to shut it off, you won’t be cursing an archaic savepoint from an hour ago.
Capriccio of the Prison
Ys IX is a beautiful game both in handheld mode or on the big screen. The characters look great and there’s a lot of diverse environments despite spending most of your time in one city. The enemies are well designed and fit in with the various backgrounds they are set to. My only gripe was during cutscenes when characters turn around or walk. They have a very wooden unnatural look to the point it was comical. Fortunately that’s where the technical issues end. The game played smoothly, even when ambushed by dozens of monsters and unleashing skill after skill to level the playing field.
Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is an incredible adventure. The story and characters have feeling and the gameplay builds momentum throughout the journey. The beautiful settings are the perfect backdrops for the endearing cast, despite being overrun with monsters. You don’t need to have played previous games to find joy in this standalone adventure featuring Adol the Red. It’s engaging and stands on its own. If you’re a fan of adventures, platforming or action RPGs, then you should absolutely add this to your Switch library.
- Compelling Story
- Immersive and Exciting Gameplay
- Creative Characters
- Varied Environment and Enemies
- Wooden Movements during Cutscenes