The ninth main entry of the Ys series takes Adol to the prison city of Balduq. The series is fast gaining popularity with numerous ports and multi-platform releases in recent years. Naturally, the latest game poses many questions for established fans and first-time players alike.
With no spoilers, here is everything you need to know about Ys IX: Monstrum Nox.
Is Ys IX a good game?
First thing’s first. In my opinion, Ys IX is the best of the series so far. To put this into context, I previously thought Ys VIII was by far the best and the gameplay of Ys IX is almost identical in every way. Maybe Falcom played it a bit safe here, but in replicating a terrific RPG they have ensured that if you liked Ys VIII, you will definitely enjoy Ys IX.
Our score was 8.8/10, with praise for the fun action battle system, enjoyable exploration, superb soundtrack and a captivating story full of twists. Amongst the slight downsides were the bland setting and forgettable sidequests.
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Is Ys IX a good entry point for the series?
There aren’t really any bad places to enter the Ys series. There is a linked timeline, but each game is self-contained and it’s easy to pick up the gist without playing any of the others. Ys IX is no exception to this, making it a perfectly legitimate starting point.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a few things mentioned throughout Ys IX that hint of Adol’s checkered and intruiging past. However, these never amount to more than references and nothing important will go over your head.
Ys VIII and Ys IX have pushed the series to new heights and I would suggest either of these games are great starting points for new players.
How long does it take to beat Ys IX?
Ys IX has a fair amount of content, but is not a ridiculously long game. I was able to beat the game, complete all quests, max all relationships and find virtually all collectibles within 40 hours.
If you opt not to bother with the optional content, Ys IX’s main story can definitely be beaten in well under 30 hours.
This is split into nine main chapters, along with a short prologue section. Each chapter lasts a few hours.
There is also some post-game content in the form of a time attack boss medley, unlocked upon beating the game for the first time. It’s a pretty fun challenge, that’s worth a try after conquering the main quest.
How many endings are in Ys IX?
Unlike some of the previous Ys games, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox has only one ending.
This is a little surprising, as Falcom usually likes to at least make sure there is a ‘true’ ending. Ys VIII actually had three endings, and I thought it was disappointing they didn’t follow suit here. With so much optional content, it would have been nice for them to feel like they were contributing towards a reward.
Is Ys IX open world?
I wouldn’t go that far. Most of Ys IX takes place in Balduq City, with occasional excursions to the outskirts.
It isn’t a huge world, and one of my few criticisms was that Balduq was bland and empty at times, but there is still a lot to do. Time can be spent completing optional sidequests, unlocking bonding events (more on them below), hunting for collectibles and filling up the map. The quests aren’t anything to write home about, but the general exploration of Balduq and its region is always incredibly fun. This is especially true when all powers are unlocked, allowing players to run up walls, glide around and warp up to elevated ledges.
I would say Ys IX is semi-open world. It doesn’t feel quite as big as Ys VIII’s setting of Seiren Island, but it isn’t far off.
What is the best difficulty level to play Ys IX?
There are a bunch of difficulty settings within Ys IX: Monstrum Nox, and their titles are pretty misleading.
The choice is between Easy, Normal, Hard, Nightmare, Inferno and Lunatic.
Make no mistake, Normal mode is incredibly easy. My first playthrough was on Hard and I didn’t die a single time.
If you have never played an Ys game before, I’d still probably suggest Hard mode rather than Normal.
If you are an Ys veteran who likes a degree of challenge, I’d go for Nightmare. It’s also worth noting you need to entirely complete the game on Nightmare to earn the Nightmare Survivor trophy.
You can always change the difficulty from the menu, so it’s not a huge deal if you get it wrong.
Does Ys IX have romance?
Ys IX contains relationship events with a whopping 18 characters. They mostly have two requirements each in order to be maximised – complete the request they post (ie, a sidequest) and present them with a specific gift. This will unlock the max affinity bonding event.
Doing this with each character will boost their support skills in the Grimwald Nox battles, and sometimes lead to additional rare item rewards.
Adol Christin is one handsome man, and there is no shortage of potential suitors. Shippers will have a field day, but these relationship events couldn’t be considered romantic. In fact, the game’s only explicitly romantic relationship involves one of the other party members.
Does Dana from Ys VIII appear in Ys IX?
Dana, the titular character from Ys VIII, enjoyed tremendous popularity. I’m sure this was down to her determined and selfless personality, and had absolutely nothing to do with her looks.
Anyway, technically the answer is yes, but it’s such a brief cameo you may not even notice it.
You’ll need to collect the shiny blue Azure Petals and hand them to Marguerite in the Central District. Every 10 petals yields a reward, and every now and then a mysterious personality shift will occur. In one of these cryptic conversations, Maguerite is channelling Dana. To be more specific, it’s the conversation unlocked after presenting a total of 80 petals.
There’s another similar Dana cameo later in the game, regardless of whether you collect Azure Petals. I won’t expand more on this in order to avoid spoilers.
Unfortunately, Dana’s full character design does not show up, which feels like a missed opportunity to please the fans.
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If I liked Ys IX, what should I play next?
As already mentioned, the most obvious candidate is Ys VIII, which has hugely similar gameplay. Elsewhere in the series, Ys Memories of Celceta is now ported to PS4 and represents a solid entry without matching the excellence of the most recent titles. Ys Origins is also a fun and short, multi-platform prequel that can be blasted in a matter of hours, and completionists may even want to give Ys I & II Chronicles a whirl.
If you enjoy the style and general feel of Ys but prefer turn-based battle systems, then check out Falcom’s other excellent series, Trails of Cold Steel. This is a completely different set of characters in an entirely different world, but comes highly recommended.
Will there be an Ys X?
The most recent Ys titles have been so impressive that we certainly hope so.
There hasn’t been an official word on this, and Falcom have been pretty coy, suggesting the next Ys game may actually be a remake rather than a main series entry. An Ys V remake may be on the cards, but this isn’t confirmed.
We’ll most certainly be keeping our eyes peeled for any news of Adol’s next adventure.