There’s one thing dodgy happening within the foreboding stone metropolis of Balduq, and seasoned adventurer Adol Christin finds that out the onerous manner when he is abruptly arrested upon arrival. Our red-haired hero escapes his captors with the assistance of a mysterious girl, however her help comes at a value. Now saddled with a curse that stops him from leaving the town, Adol has no alternative however to obey his saviour, and strike on the corruption that spreads throughout Balduq.
Proper off the bat, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox serves up an attention-grabbing foundation for its story. Falcom’s sequence has at all times positioned recurring protagonist Adol in artistic conditions, and this newest instalment is not any completely different. This time round, Adol is not just a few plucky swordsman in search of journey — he is a needed fugitive, and the primary few hours of the sport set the tone for an altogether darker story.
Followers will discover the general construction of Monstrum Nox acquainted, nonetheless — particularly in case you’ve performed Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana. The 2016 launch noticed Adol shipwrecked on an extended forgotten island, the place he needed to band along with different survivors as a way to escape. Monstrum Nox’s setting could also be utterly completely different, however you will nonetheless end up gathering allies, returning often to a base of operations, and steadily unlocking new areas of exploration.
Sadly, Monstrum Nox simply would not really feel as cohesive as its predecessor, and that is principally right down to the town of Balduq itself. Ys VIII’s Isle of Seiren offered a big and diverse panorama — a memorable mixture of pristine island paradise, ominous ruins, and unknown hazard. Balduq, then again, is disappointingly drab and dreary. It is all gray streets and gray buildings, set towards a immobile gray sky. It is clearly going for a sort of oppressive, gothic tone — however lacklustre visuals undo the phantasm nearly instantly.
It is a good job, then, that the town retains you preoccupied with its many secrets and techniques. Over the course of the sport, you achieve entry to varied platforming talents. Earlier than lengthy, you will be sprinting up partitions and gliding from nice heights. It is a far cry from the beautiful type and satisfying slickness of Marvel’s Spider-Man, however Balduq turns into a way more attention-grabbing locale when you’re dashing throughout its rooftops like a real renegade. There are a great deal of hidden treasures to find, and respawning monster portals be sure that you are by no means too removed from any sword-swinging motion.
Platforming additionally performs a key function in the case of dungeon crawling. Balduq is residence to many an underground labyrinth, all of which put your dexterity to the check in addition to your fight expertise. In typical Ys vogue, dungeons are fast-paced affairs, protecting you in your toes with monster-mashing brawls, some gentle puzzle fixing, and, in fact, over-the-top boss fights. As soon as once more, the stone gray structure makes all the pieces really feel a bit too samey, however total, hacking and slashing by the dungeons of Monstrum Nox is nice enjoyable.
Certainly, it is actually the tried and examined Ys fight system that holds all the pieces collectively. The controls are as responsive as ever, with Adol and different playable social gathering members capable of pull off flashy combos and particular assaults, all whereas performing evasive rolls, jumps, and dashes at a second’s discover. It is all so easy and satisfying — particularly as soon as you’ve got unlocked every character’s full vary of methods.
As for the plot, issues transfer at a barely slower tempo than long-time Ys followers would possibly anticipate. Monstrum Nox boasts a fairly large solid, and it likes to present every new face an affordable period of time within the highlight. Because of this, we get complete story chapters devoted to a single social gathering member, often exploring their persona and motivations. In that sense, Ys IX can really feel extra character-driven than its predecessors, which ends up in some surprisingly impactful interactions afterward.
Nevertheless, the give attention to people implies that the overarching plot usually takes a backseat. Primary story parts are likely to lose steam fairly rapidly, as they’re brushed apart for the most recent dose of character growth. We’re left with a core narrative that feels fragmented and even slightly contrived as soon as all’s stated and completed.
Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is one other strong motion RPG, but it surely lacks the general cohesion of its island-based predecessor. Town of Balduq is a disappointingly monotonous setting, and the sport’s storytelling usually feels disjointed. However as is often the case with Falcom’s long-running sequence, it is the fast-paced, satisfying, and addictive gameplay that elevates the expertise. Adol’s newest journey actually is not a basic, however for probably the most half, it is nonetheless a enjoyable journey.