Nihon Falcom has a long history of making JRPGs, famous for their Ys and The Legend of Heroes series they show no sign of stopping.
Spanning over twenty years the Ys series has become one of the most revered JRPGs series ever. After the major success of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, Nihon Falcom are finally bringing the latest entry Ys IX: Monstrum Nox to the Nintendo Switch.
Ys IX story takes place after the seventh game rather than the eighth game which may seem weird but will make sense to long time fans. Once again the adventuring swordsman Adol Christin is travelling with his longtime companion Dogi, who ends up in the city Balduq.
Before long Adol is arrested and imprisoned for his numerous crimes against the Romun Empire. If you’ve played previous entries then the interrogation scene is a real treat.
Adol eventually escapes his imprisonment and meets a mysterious woman called Aprilis who inflicts a curse on him that grants him a new power.
This new power allows Adol to transform into a Monstrum, a badass powered up version of his former self.
After learning that he isn’t the only one who is cursed, Adol joins a group of other Monsturms who are tasked with defeating monsters called Lemures.
This leads Adol on an adventure on why he has become a Monsturm and what is happening underneath Balduq Prison. The mysterious plot is very intriguing and the game does well to keep players gripped throughout its eight chapters.
The darker themes are a massive step away from what fans have known to expect from past Ys titles. But like past titles, the plot’s strength lies in its characters and their interactions which are once again brilliant.
Visually Ys IX: Monstrum Nox stays true to Nihon Falcom’s classic anime style with each of the characters sporting great designs. The new gothic styling throughout looks amazing and goes hand in hand with the darker themes.
The battle animations are bright and flashy but are varied enough so players can keep track of what’s happening. The locations aren’t as lavish or unique as they were in Ys VIII.
A lot of the main city really falls flat and dungeons can seem very repetitive. Overall Ys IX: Monstrum Nox hasn’t dramatically improved on Ys VIII but the new gothic style is fully welcomed.
Unfortunately Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is plagued with performance issues, which are present regardless of how you are playing. For the most part, the game clearly runs under 30 FPS at around 25 or even under.
This is really frustrating during exploration and the fast-paced battles. The real shame is that Ys IX runs amazingly on the Playstation 4 and PC, so seeing it struggle on the Switch is really disappointing.
The soundtrack feels right at home with high octane rock music that matches the gothic setting and perfectly sets the tone for battles. The game comes with English voice acting which is entertaining, it’s just a shame that there aren’t more cutscenes to use them in.
Ys IX: Monstrum Nox’s gameplay consists of exploration, combat and a few side quests. Exploration has been a high point in past Ys games due to how open past overworlds were, as well as the number of secret treasures available at every corner.
Exploring Balduq may seem limited from the beginning, but as players unlock more Monstrums and their gifts, traversing the city becomes a lot of fun. Players will soon find that Balduq is littered with side quests, hidden items and dungeons.
Dungeons are very straightforward, with a few parts dedicated to puzzles that utilise the Monstrum’s gifts. But dungeons are where most of the combat takes place.
Combat is fast-paced but really accessible for newcomers to jump straight in. Players will be in a team of three that they can swap between on the fly.
Most fights will consist of the player stringing together basic attacks into combos. Each character will learn new unique attacks as they level up, which can be assigned to be used in battle.
These special moves require Skill Points, which literally fill up with every hit from your basic attack, so players can go all out and spam their flashier moves. The main aspect to master is the dodges which provide temporary stats boost that are very helpful.
The combat is fast and furious but not really that deep, feeling a bit similar to some Musou games.
Combat could become very repetitive if it wasn’t for the diverse strategies presented by enemies that will keep players on their toes.
Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is an addictive action RPG the fans of the series will relish. It doesn’t quite hit the highs of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, but the slight change in approach is fully welcome and I’m looking forward to where Adol’s adventure takes him next.
The Nintendo Switch version is filled with performance issues that really hinder the experience, however, the game is incredibly fun and fans of the genre should still pick this up.
Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is out now for the Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 and PC