Ys IX: Monstrum Nox Review

Ys IX: Monstrum Nox by developer Nihon Falcom and publisher NIS AmericaSony PlayStation 5 Review written by Nick with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Ys IX: Monstrum Nox for PlayStation 5 is an updated version of the same game with the same name from 2021, but with some included DLC and other improvements. These updates might not provide enough change to warrant a return trip for those who played the PlayStation 4 / PC release a couple of years ago, but this is the best version of what is an excellent action-RPG title. As such, if you are new to the series or even just Monstrum Nox? This is a great place to start. If you were a fan of the prior Monstrum Nox release and have been thinking about giving it another go at some point? This is the superior version.

I’ll start by talking about the game itself, which features true and tried protagonist, Adol Christin. Given just how long this series has been going, Adol’s proven to be one of the more durable RPG characters out there, as he finds himself in one unexpected mess after another. The premise behind Monstrum Nox is actually a pretty amusing one out of the gates, as Adol – who has saved countless lives and is viewed by many as a hero for his adventuring exploits – is arrested. It turns out word of his many too-hard-to-believe travels have landed him in hot water with the local law keepers of the city.

This strange if mildly amusing string of events (I mean, after all of these adventures, I suppose it tracks that someone might be skeptical of whether he was the one who resolved the issues, or perhaps was the cause of them), Adol finds himself being tossed into prison. From there, you get a pretty breakneck introduction to the combat system and how to move about in dungeons and interact with things. The real storyline involving the Monstrums begins here, being drip-fed over the next several hours.

From a narrative standpoint, for a series that has been around for this long? It’s kind of surprising that you can by and large just pick up and run with it as what little important context may be needed is shared along the way, but by and large Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is a pretty self-contained one, and the experience is better for it. I do have some quibbles with the pacing early on. Things start a little slow as Adol gets arrested, then you have this high intensity jail-break, then you… spend about the next hour or two doing… very little. I get that it sets the stage, but there’s no combat for about another 90 minutes, as you go through the events between Adol’s capture and escape, then running around town looking for shelter, and having some of the game’s non-combat systems slowly doled out.

Then, when you do finally get to have your next battle, it is an interesting sort of action-tower defense that varies things up. But this too is just a simple, quick tutorial style of battle to help you learn the basics of things. After that, you’re given a bit more narrative and then dumped out into the city and told to explore again. After this things start to ramp up steadily from there and the pace of the adventure begins to even out, but it took some time for me to really feel like I was getting into the meat of the title.

Additionally, Adol is far from the most intriguing protagonist in RPG history - he just sort of stumbles onto problems and is a generally nice guy who tries to solve them for people. There’s not a lot of personal growth to the character at this point, but the setting and story were enjoyable. I found most of the side characters more interesting than Adol was.

This is a series that has done a great job of refining it’s solid combat over the years, and Ys IX: Monstrum Nox continues that trend. Fast combinations, jumping and dashing, rapid strikes and quick dodges all keep combat feeling fluid and fun as you switch back and forth between the characters in your party. The tower defense portion of content provides less meaty combat than the primary portions, giving it an almost Dynasty Warriors vibe where your few slaughter many waves of enemies.

In terms of presentation, Ys has always been a pleasant series and that trend continues here. The visuals are colorful, characters are interesting to look at and I always enjoyed finding new areas to explore. The music in particular deserves recognition. I have long held that the Ys games have some of the best soundtracks of any video game series, and Ys IX: Monstrum Nox doesn’t disappoint here either, with fantastic and rousing melodies that stick in the back of my head.

Exploration benefits from fast travel around the large city, and there’s a maid who can tag along to shop and help keep what could have been a messy inventory system fairly clean and quick. The power of the PlayStation 5 helps a bit in aspects such as fast travel, which is snappy. Load times in general are brisk, by and large. While this is the same game as what was released a couple of years ago, it feels like the hardware is put to good use here. The visuals aren’t really updated in any meaningful way. There’s no real change in draw distances, though the framerate is certainly more stable and sits at a pretty steady 60 fps. That being said, there is a bit more pop-in from time-to-time than I would have expected.

Additionally, this release comes with all of the DLC packaged with it. This is mostly just accessories and a variety of cosmetics you can apply to the party. I don’t think this is enough of a reason for most people who played the first release of Ys IX: Monstrum Nox to go out and purchase it again. That’s about it from the notable changes between the version from two years ago and now.

Ys IX: Monstrum Nox on its own merits is an excellent game. The combat’s entertaining, I enjoyed the story and the presentation is very good. There’s a lengthy game to be had here, with a lot of adventures to be had once you get past some uneven pacing to kick things off. The biggest question for most people, is whether they already played this release a couple of years ago or not. If you have and you feel like you got what you wanted from the game then? There’s probably not much reason to come back to Ys IX: Monstrum Nox now on PS5 as there are some upgrades, but they are not overly significant when compared to the original release. However, newcomers to either this title in particular or the series in general who enjoy a good action-RPG should absolutely give Ys IX: Monstrum Nox on PS5 a go.

Score: 8.25 / 10



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