A relatively easy one, could be done in one playthrough but I wasn’t courageous enough to play on Nightmare from the beginning, so put it off until New Game+ and dashed through the game in about 10 hours =)

Ys IX Monstrum Nox

I’m actually surprised by how much I liked Ys IX. I enjoyed it enough to be playing it for the second time now, to get that damn platinum trophy =) I wouldn’t say that I’m a diehard Ys fan — I did play Ys VIII, it was good but that’s it. Yeah, I was going to check out the latest installment in this action-JRPG series eventually, but the demo and reviews I saw didn’t sell the game to me. After enjoying the gorgeous (well, according to Falcom standards) views of lush greenery in Lacrimosa of Dana everything in Ys IX looked dull and grey. Turned out that a prison city could be a perfect location for an exciting adventure =)

For me running all over Balduq, trying to find all the treasure chests, graffities and azure petals was more fascinating than exploring an island full of ruins and dinosaurs. Yeah, I myself can’t believe that I’m writing this. I could try to come up with a reasonable explanation why Monstrum Nox is such a fun game, whether it’s verticality Ys IX locations have or better written characters, but the fact is that it was very difficult for me to put down the controller every evening. “I just got to the new part of the city and I can already see that damn azure petal on that roof. Okay, 5 more minutes and I’m done for today”. I wish there were more secret rooms and passages in Balduq (there are maybe 6 or 7 total), to add to that sense of adventure when you can accidentally stumble upon, you know, something, but in any case that boring-looking, enclosed city ended up being a great place to explore.

What’s next… story and characters. The plot of Monstrum Nox is okay. It’s not something mind-blowing, we’ve seen stories about homunculi before, but it’s well-written and reasonably logical. For some time, for example, I was like “oh boy, all the playable characters are orphans, what’s wrong with the writers?” and then it turned out that, well yeah, you can’t exactly expect artificially created humans to be a part of a family naturally =) Some elements of the game definitely were inspired by Lacrimosa of Dana. For instance, having two parallel story lines: Adol and Dana in Lacrimosa of Dana, Adol and… Adol in Mostrum Nox. Speaking of Dana — I kind of missed her in Ys IX. I liked her as a heroine, I liked her storyline and whereas overall the Monstrums and their companions are written better than the castaways there’s no one who would stand out as a character. Aprilis, The Doll, Credo (and Interrogator Ingrid!) are probably the best ones but still, they are not Dana.

I initially was very skeptical of the idea of Grimwald Nox. Basically it’s the same raids mechanic from Ys VIII, which I was successfully ignoring there, but this time it was made mandatory. Not sure whether it’s the fact that finishing a nox would unlock access to another location or I just misunderstood something in the previous game — but in Mostrum Nox I didn’t have much trouble with them. Gameplay-wise the two Adol’s adventures I played look like Sedin Brothers (who doesn’t like Swedish twins?), even though Ys IX certainly uses verticality more. I wouldn’t say that the Gifts is something that changed the game entirely and not all of them are equally useful unfortunately, but it was a nice improvement over the “artifacts” from Ys VIII.

If I had to say something bad about the game I’d name two things. First of all, some animations are just atrocious. If a character is going away, he or she first makes a series of 90-degrees turns to face the desired direction and then finally starts walking with those really weird, kind of sliding, movements. Secondly, on normal difficulty the game is too easy. I definitely should’ve played on hard because lower difficulties provide no challenge whatsoever.

I have to repeat myself — Ys IX Monstrum Nox is a pleasant surprise, a super fun game with a decent plot, polished combat system and, most importantly, it’s full of spirit of adventure. And what else are we looking for in an Ys game if not that? Adol the Adventurer, we’ll meet again soon, in Ys X =)

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