The Ys series has been going on for a long time, although I've sadly never stumbled into the series until now. After being released in Japan in 2019, 2021 sees the release of Ys IX: Monstrum Nox for everyone else in the world.
When I first heard of the series, I assumed it was going to be an old school style of turn-based RPG. However to my surprise, Ys IX: Monstrum IX is a very accessible and playable action RPG. The combat system is simple yet very entertaining.
Before I talk more about the gameplay, let's focus on the story. You play as a young man named Adol that has been shot by a mysterious woman with a bullet. This bullet turns him into a Monstrum which gives him superhuman powers.
While it's great having superpowers, the bad thing about being a Monstrum is that you cannot escape the city of Baldaq. Another thing that Monstrums have to do is enter a strange new dimension called the Grimwald Nox. In the Grimwald Nox, they have to face up against many monsters.
The story takes a lot of twists and turns, but it's fun to follow to see what happens next. The game's main story last for around 27 hours so there's a lot for you to see and do. You can even prolong your gameplay duration by partaking in the many optional side quests.
The gameplay in Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is my favourite feature of the entire game. What I like most about the combat is that it's easy to follow and isn't difficult like Dark Souls or Nioh. There are multiple different difficulty levels so the game caters to gamers of all skill levels.
The game features a fun hack-and-slash style of gameplay that is very accessible. As a Monstrum, you have four or more different skills that you can kill enemies with. To initiate these skills, you press the R1 button followed by one of the four face buttons. You can also just press Square if you want to do standard melee attacks.
The game also has a helpful dodge button if you press the L1 button. If you time your dodges correctly, you can counterattack enemies to great effect. You are also able to press L1 and R1 together that allows you to do ‘Boost Mode'. While in this mode, you temporarily do higher damage with your attacks.
During combat, you are usually in a three-person party. The cool part about having a party is that you can change the playable character. If you get bored of playing Adol for some reason, you can press the Circle button to change as somebody else. Eventually, you get more than three people in your party and you can swap members in-and-out depending on your preferences.
Outside of combat, Monstrums also have other special abilities called ‘Gifts'. Some of these ‘Gifts' are cool because they give you special powers. Some of the powers include wings to glide, walking on walls as well as a teleportation ability. More powers are acquired as you meet newer characters.
The game also has a ton of dungeons, but none of the combat gets too overwhelming. Aside from tons of cool bosses, the game allows you to take a breather from time-to-time. There are many platforms that are littered throughout the levels that replenish your health and removes negative status effects.
While I did like the combat and story of Ys IX: Monstrum Nox, it wasn't a perfect experience. One thing I didn't like about the game is that it includes too many dialogue scenes. Quite a lot of dialogue isn't voiced so you're pretty much reading a ton of silent text most of the time.
Another surprising aspect of this game is that the graphics aren't very pretty. For a PS4 game released in 2020, I expect the graphics to be much more vibrant and colourful. Instead, the game's colours look quite bland and it resembles a PS3 game.
All in all though, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is a highly enjoyable action RPG. The combat and story is interesting, despite the graphics looking very outdated. If you are into action games, I'm sure you'll fall in love with this new game.