Ys IX: Monstrum Nox review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, PC

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC, PS4
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Medium: Digital/Disc/Cartridge
Players: 1
Online: No

Ys Seven is one of my all-time favourite games, so I?ve always eagerly awaited every new entry in the franchise. That anticipation paid off for Ys: Memories of Celceta, as well as for Ys VIII. But now, as I play Ys IX about ten years after I played Ys Seven I?m left wondering: has the game shifted dramatically, or am I misremembering Ys Seven hugely?

Because, in all honesty, I can?t say that I love Ys IX. Don?t get me wrong, it?s not a terrible game or anything. But it?s also not as fun as I remember those previous Ys games being, and I?m wondering why that is.

If I had to hazard a guess, I?d say it starts with Ys IX falling into that trap that afflicts many a JRPG: long-winded explanations of nearly everything. I know that the game is just trying to tell a story, but every single cutscene seems to go on forever, and it rarely feels like they need to. It?s not as if the stories of Adol and Dogi ever require that much backstory, but here the game loves to build up its story at the expense of action.

Which is really too bad, because action has always been where the Ys games shine, and here is no exception: attacking monsters is smoother than ever, and you have some neat new tricks thanks to the ?Monstrum” part of that title (which gets further explained early on, in one of those exposition dumps I referred to above).

Unfortunately, even that?s not without some drawbacks. Much of Ys IX is set in a city, rather than the massive plains that made up previous games, and you can?t exactly go around slaughtering innocent bystanders. As such, you have to trigger monsters appearing, which isn?t nearly as fun as it sounds. Even if Ys games are more action-packed than most other titles that fall within the very broad JRPG umbrella, Ys IX has less action than it probably should.

Again, I don?t want to leave you with the impression that Ys IX is a bad game, because it?s definitely not. But it?s also not a great game, either, and given that we?re talking about a series that has produced a couple of those, that means Ys IX can?t help but fall a little short of expectations.

NIS America provided us with a Ys IX: Monstrum Nox Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B-