Ys IX: Monstrum Nox - PS4 Review

Ys IX: Monstrum Nox by developer Nihon Falcom and publisher NIS America Inc.Sony Playstation 4 review written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

After what feels like forever after it's initial announcement and even longer after having played the demo, Falcom' Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is releasing this week for both fans of the series and action adventure RPG enthusiasts. Taking another leap from Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, Ys IX shows that the series isn't afraid of taking new leaps in different directions especially when that direction is up.

Kicking this off with a prison break, we find out favorite red haired protagonist Adol Christin, aka Adol the Red, thrown into prison by the Romun army for suspicion of his involvement with mysterious occurrences that he may or may not have been involved in over the years. Alright, he was totally involved (see previous titles) but that's beside the point! After breaking out and making his way down to an uncharted area of the prison, our hero comes face to face with a woman with a gun who then places a curse on him by shooting him in the chest and thus dubbing him the Crimson King.

Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is a big departure from the rest of the series in terms of gameplay while still feeling like it belongs with the rest of the Ys Series and a continuation of what Ys VIII put in place. Gone for the most part are the wild unexplored reaches of the wilds with hidden dungeons just begging to be explored with the use of boots to crush spikes or air shields to breathe underwater. Instead, with the cursed powers of the Crimson King, Adol and the eventual rest of his party will be exploring a large gothic city with dark secrets by the use of their individual and combined powers.

The joke has already been made several times but... Assassin's Creed?

Spoilers ahead:
There’s only so much that can be gone into without spoiling certain elements so I’m going to try to hold back on certain aspects such as real names of the Monstrum as some were obvious while others were what the hell moments. Good what the hell moments.

Some of these powers, while neat, are really only going to be used sparingly like Adol’s Crimson Line which allows you to teleport to anchor points both high and low to save some time from running around. Other powers like White Cat’s allow you to run up walls which alone broke what the Ys Series has always had in place which was running on flat ground and only really being able to hop ledges until Ys VIII which allowed you to jump but still kept a 2D kind of plane. With the ability to run up walls the world got much bigger as well as some of the puzzles as you could no longer simply assume that you’ll find a way up there eventually as you may already have the ability and just need to figure it out.

Adding to these abilities are Hawk’s ability to glide, Vengeance’s ability to become a shadow and glide underneath low barriers, Doll’s ability to see the hidden which also highlights switches, monsters and collectibles. Finally the other massively used ability is the Raging Bull’s ability to break down both cracked walls as well as break the armor off of enemies. Adding all of these together makes for some interesting puzzles at times depending on the dungeon layout but perhaps the best part of these abilities is that as the part comes together, each power is shared through the party so you don’t need to switch to that specific character which really helps getting those trophies for exploring a certain amount of time as one character in particular.

Some of your dialog options are hilarious at times

Alone these powers are neat and change the pace that the series has had for decades now but they wouldn’t have been able to be as effective if the series hadn’t moved into a more urban setting for the latest installment. The change is a weird one to be sure and it’s possible that it may not be for everyone who’s been playing entries on and off for years now. Another point to make there is that while Ys VIII could be viewed as the perfect starting point for someone in the series, Ys IX is designed more for veteran fans who will pick up on certain aspects a lot faster coming in knowing a lot of where the series has gone and how all of the new shiny aspects fall into place within it.

Making its return for a bit of familiarity is the three person Rock, Paper, Scissors combat that’s been around for a few titles now. Adol and Doll are your Slashers, White Cat and Raging Bull are your Breakers with Hawk and Vengeance being your Piercers. Equipment exists in order to change these rolls if you need it, but for the most part, the gameplay of each character and their skills works really well over the course of the journey. Flash Dodging and Perfect Guards both make their return to give you an edge in combat, slowing down time allowing your party to get a few more hits into the enemies that you’re engaged with. It’s fun enough that it doesn’t get stale as the hours move on especially when switching between characters and trying out new skills as they are acquired.

Now while most of Adol’s latest adventure happens within the city walls, there’s a bit of classic Ys flavor thrown in for the ride once you get outside the city’s walls for a few minutes here and there. Another change for the series is that oftentimes Adol, and eventual party starting with Ys VII, are blocked off because they don’t have the tools to move forward. Air Bubbles to breathe underwater. Boots to crush lethal spikes. Tools to break large stones from your way. None of these cause problems this time around as everything revolves around the cursed powers of the Monstrums and the barriers created by the Grimwald Nox.

In an interesting twist, these barriers don't affect normal humans as they cannot see or be affected by them. So while everyone is free to come and go from the city (assuming they aren’t inmates in the prison itself), Adol is forced to come up with creative solutions around these which often result in fighting off extra dimensional beings from the Grimwald Nox known as Lemures for Nox points to initiate tower defense battles which are back in order to break down these barriers.

While tower defense battles are making a return, I found myself indifferent to them as they were more of a means to an end compared to Ys VIII where they were mandatory in order to protect the safety of your fellow castaways as there was only so much Dogi could do to defend it while most of the strength was out and about the rest of the island. Now, these battles other than the very few story specific battles are essentially just locks on metaphorical doors that you need to break in order to move further. They are great for grinding experience and materials, great for reminding the player what the Grimwald Nox is and it’s dangers, but for the most part? It could have been left out and the overall experience wouldn't have changed much.

This is perhaps my biggest issue with Ys IX, the Grimwald Nox. It’s there, the monsters look cool for the first few encounters, but then that’s about it. It’s a means to an end and otherwise your biggest worries are going to be how to get through the dungeons that are thrown at you and surviving the boss fights which are still great. Otherwise, “Monstrum” is heavily used as Adol the Crimson King, the Hawk, Raging Bull, Doll, Vengeance and White Cat all use their powers in order to prepare and get tougher to tackle the “Nox”, but it’s always in the background until really the last chapter and dungeon which was both fantastic and grants you that amazing Ys Series feeling that a lot of the other dungeons throughout had been lacking.

Where things are made up for are in the story telling, the main and supporting cast, and the various areas of the city and the peoples therein that you’ll meet and do requests for. Taking another note from Ys VIII, Ys IX will once again have Dogi sitting on the sidelines as he helps set up your base of operations out of what was an abandoned bar that Adol finds himself hiding in the first night “on the run”. Branded the Dandelion, this bar will bring everyone together over the course of the series from your main smithy to your errand girl who simplifies so much back and forth as any item found through the local shops can be bought directly through her instead of having to run around and remember exactly which shop was selling flour to make pies.

From there, you’ll have a quest board and the ability to talk to your fellow party members and support staff. Gifts can be given, dialog can be exchanged and it makes the world feel a bit more real as time moves on they’ll move through the bar whether to sit at a table or literally walk around. It’s a nice touch between all of the city and eventually outer city exploration that you’ll be doing.

Note to PS5 users: Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is a PS4 title but it ran really smoothly on the PS5 until it would randomly crash. I’m not sure if the same issues will exist for PS4 users or even PS5 users after the Day 1 launch patch, but as a just in case, even if I had twenty or thirty crashes in the thirty and a half hours of the adventure, with the speed under the hood and the very well configured auto-save system alongside the manual saves, I never lost anything but a few seconds before getting back into the action.


Overall, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox sets up for some rather interesting possibilities to the eventual Ys X that I’m already stupidly excited for. The change of direction from the rest of the series and having Adol explore one city and its surroundings instead of unknown and untamed wildlands with loads of ancient runes and various villages and towns isn’t a bad one but I do hope for more of a mix of the two in the next adventure.

Now we just need to sit and wait to hear from Falcom whether Adol’s next adventure continues on his future adventures or settles somewhere between the past events that we’ve explored alongside him.

Score: 8.5 / 10

Note: Played and reviewed on PlayStation 5



Post a Comment

Random posts

Our Streamers

Susan "Jagtress" N.

S.M. Carrière

Louis aka Esefine



JenEricDesigns – Coffee that ships to the US and Canada

JenEricDesigns – Coffee that ships to the US and Canada
Light, Medium and Dark Roast Coffee available.

Blog Archive