YS IX: Monstrum Nox – PS4 Review

YS IX: Monstrum Nox – PS4 Review
DarkLunarDude
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Genre: Action JRPG
Developer: Nihon Falcom, PH3GmbH, Engine Software BV
Publisher: NIS America, Inc.
Release Date: February 2nd, 2021
Edited by AlexKnight2005

When you have eight games of experience with the main character, there often comes time for a reimagining of how that character can look comes up. These new looks can be tied to a remaster or simply a story element, as is the case with YS IX: Monstrum Nox. YS IX: Monstrum Nox is an action-adventure RPG developed by Nihon Falcom, PH3 GmbH, and Engine Software BV, later released by NIS America, Inc. This ninth entry into the popular YS series does a good bit to keep the game fresh, just not always to great effect.

Being thrown into prison for no reason, the story of YS IX: Monstrum Nox starts as traditional as an RPG can but then takes a twist to the neck to keep itself fresh. We, the player, begin the game as Adol Christin, a not-so-famous traveling adventurer with his companion Dogi after the disappearance of the Romun Fleet, trying to enter the prison city of Bladuq. Adol is quickly detained and locked up, but after he gets the chance to escape, he is shot by the bullet of a gun owned by a doll-armed woman, cursing him with monstrous powers. Now Adol, armed with his new powers, a group who share his similar powers, and Dogi must find out the secrets of Bladuq, defeat the beings corrupting it and discover why the doll-armed woman does what she does.

As a story, YS IX: Monstrum Nox has one of the better story setups in terms of twists and surprises to keep players on their toes. This however does have a flaw I didn’t see coming at the start: too many story elements to keep track of. I found myself torn when deciding what story to work in, the main or the side stories like a side quest or a story for one of the monstrum nox.

Clawing into the gameplay, YS IX: Monstrum Nox put its focus on exploration over combat, but this suited the game much better long term. The prison city of Bladuq acts as the player’s hub world, and it shows how grand in scale it honestly is. The players will however are limited on what sections of the city they can visit. They will have to complete a tower defense style fight known as Grimwald Nox sieges, which I will explain in the combat portion. Vendors around the city will serve as the player’s means to improve their gear, find new recipes to cook, and should the player find them, complete quest for rewards, as well as increase the Nox meter. Use of certain monstrum nox skills will help aid in exploration as the map opens up more, so using them is recommended.

Swinging into the combat section, the combat begins when entering small portals throughout the city of Bladuq. These portals can only be seen by the player and other monstrum nox, whereupon clearing the field of monsters, you gain Nox. Once you have 100 Nox, the player is pulled into a tower defense style combat section, where the player must defend a relic using light and heavy attack, as well as skills. Upon completion, you are returned to the normal world and can do this as much as you see fit. Depending on who the player chooses to use, combat styles will differ alongside the skills they have access to via the right trigger and face button of choice. You can find more skills throughout the game via books found in various locales, though these skills are hidden, so the use of each monstrum nox’s abilities will be needed.

As with most games though, the gameplay is not perfect, and YS IX: Monstrum Nox has a few I found to be more annoying than anything else. Let us start with the lock-on mechanic. Normally in a game, your lock-on is toggled by pressing in the stick or a back trigger button but here, it uses the triangle face button. This is changeable in the options menu, but it felt off trying to lock on to specific enemies before you had access to this menu. Following this is the tips that will come up if you stand still for too long. In most games, if the player has a character not moving for too long, they will usually pester the player with a voice line, which can be enjoyable at times, but alongside this, the game will now display tips and tidbits about people or things in the world. This is also a feature you can turn off, but I feel like you could have done without this mechanic to start with.

Running into the background, the overall visual style of YS IX: Monstrum Nox is anime-esque with a focus on realistic details and textures. Visually, I like the focus on small details like the texture of a jewel on a table or the dimmed glow of a lantern when inside of a room and the shadow it casts. The world itself is large and keeps many of those little details, adding fog for further back buildings that clears away as you approach them, themed to be stoney and dark, even in daylight, as if the whole city itself is a prison. The character and monster designs provided are also a selling point, as they fit a different part of the city into their themes and designs.

Stringing along as it goes, the overall sound design for YS IX: Monstrum Nox is one of a classic tone with some fun non-classical elements thrown in for good measure. The soundtrack for the game uses mostly violins, as well as other string instruments to create this sense of calm before adding in heavy guitar riffs and drums when in combat to raise the energy level of the whole situation. As to sound effects, they are more so the standard fare, but they don’t clash or overpower the score as a whole.

As one last blood moon falls, YS IX: Monstrum Nox stands up with it and shows why the series has resonated with fans over the years, even with its flaws as a whole. The impressive writing and storytelling, quirky but fun characters, the volume of rewards for player exploration, simple but easy to grasp gameplay, creative but detailed visual design across the board, and an easy-to-follow but memorable soundtrack make this entry one of the best in recent years.

Pros:

  • Impressively written and told story.
  • Rewards players for exploration.
  • Easy to pick up gameplay.
  • Very creative overall visuals.
  • A classical yet memorable soundtrack.

Cons:

  • Could have been better mapped out control-wise.

DarkLunarDude gives YS IX: Monstrum Nox A Drastik Measure of 9.0 out of 10.0 (90)