The GWJ JRPG Club: Ys IX: Monstrum Nox (Q4 2022)!

Congrats to mrtomaytohead, bobbywatson, Sundown, Comfortzone, and Wembley for finishing! I have been woefully delinquent in keeping up with this thread, and checking in to GWJ in general. But, I've leveled you up in the main thread!

Completed the game and rolled credits on Wednesday. My general thoughts on the game are positive. The moment to moment gameplay is still solid and while the story isn't as strong as Dana was, it was good enough to keep me moving forward. I felt like the Grimwald Nox fit in better here than the Rampages in Dana did. It always felt a little odd in Dana for these monsters going berserk waiting several days for you trek back across the island to arrive and repel them. Dana had the better cast of characters, but other than Hawk none of the characters are bad. I was interested in learning more about the city and everyone who lived there, as well as your direct party members. It definitely feels a bit like "Oh dang, Dana was really successful, we need another Ys game. Just reuse everything and slap a new story and characters on top," though. I am looking forward to seeing where Ys X goes.

Exploring the city with all the mobility tools you get felt good, and was more fun than the Island of Seiren. Seiren zones were a little too big and empty and most of the early areas were all samey, and just became areas you ran through as quickly as possible. The outside zones around Balduq also had that same empty, boring feel to them though, just empty grasslands with one or two landmarks to note.

Overall story impressions and spoilers:


I am disappointed it seems like Zola survives in the end and everyone is just "Oh, that's okay. You have committed 500 years of crimes, but we forgive you." He should face some kind of punishment or justice for his actions. I will say that everyone just being a homunculus kind of removed a lot of the weight from the story, since no one can really die. It also made the "duplicate Adol" mystery end pretty uninterestingly.

It was neat seeing bosses from old games make an appearance in this game with a new coat of paint. Having only played Celceta, Dana, and Origins, I probably missed a lot of references (especially since I only vaguely remember Celceta). Does mean Zola works really fast though, he made all those monsters based on Adol's memory in just a few days (or months? They don't give us firm time length of how long this game takes). Although, the centipede is from Origins which is thousands of years before Adol was born, so no idea where the memory for that boss came from.

Anybody else here still playing this?

I've finally gotten back into it after tearing myself away from Persona 5 Royal (just cleared Okumura's palace!), and I'm about to end Chapter 4 of this game. I'm feeling like I'm getting into my groove, thankfully, and I will probably press on!

So, as has come up in the other thread, we've all said that this is like Ys VIII, but less good. I'm enjoying the game, and definitely feeling like it is beginning to hit its stride. But, this post is to gripe about the things I don't like so far. I'm going to get these out of the way, then--going forward--focus on what's happening in the game and what I do enjoy.

  • Balduq: Area Gating - As already discussed, this kind of sucks and feels very contrived. I'll buy that, because of the curse, you're confined to the city until you can break it. But confined to specific districts until you can break free? Come on. Plus, the barriers just do not look good.
  • Balduq: A Dead City? - I love the traversal (but see below, it makes for really interesting ideas and lines of sight. But it also reinforces how sparse the city feels. It seems like there are enough NPCs for a 2D, top-down RPG, although not quite enough to add local color or a sense that the place is lived-in. Add a 3D city with elevation and ... it just feels vacant.
  • Controls / Traversal: Not Quite Tight Enough - Look, I'm not expecting this game to be Marvel's Spider-Man ... but I also can't go back in time and un-play Spider-Man.
  • Crafting - Why is this even in the game? On a deserted island, the need to forage made sense, as did a barter economy. But in a big city, where people have stores, why do I have to provide the pharmacist with the ingredients to make my medicine? Oddly enough, crafting makes very little sense from a narrative standpoint, but seems to be the way the game wants the player to outfit Adol & crew. The stores just feel like little narrative devices and points of exploration, especially once you get that character that will run "errands" for you (i.e., you can buy anything from her, making her a super-shop).
  • The Intro - I liked the in media res setup, but then didn't love going back in time to have Adol's arrival in Balduq explained to me. The whole first chapter felt clunky, and a little unnecessary, like it could have been cut in half.
  • Combat: A Little too Busy? - I like the addition of the Crimson Line power, but does combat feel a little too all over the place to anyone else? If I'm targeting an enemy, sometimes it just feels like the camera is whipping around.
  • The Music - It's good, but not Sunshine Coastline good. It suffers only from the knowledge that Falcom Sound Team jdk can do better.

Okay, so now onto more positive posts! In the last week or so, I've tried to make a push through the game, and have gotten from about the end of Chapter 3 to the mid-point of Chapter 6. I'm right on the cusp of recruiting Renegade and completing my party of 6, I think.

It felt like the combat and party system was a little bit of a slower build in Ys IX vs. Ys VIII, because in Ys VIII, you got Laxia and Sahad very quickly. But once I got a party of 4 -- and especially, once I got to a party of 5 -- I started enjoying the game a bit more. I really like Doll and Raging Bull's move-sets, and find them both fun to play with. And after getting the trophies for controling Crimson King and White Cat for a good bit of time, I've subbed them out and am playing Doll / Bull / Hawk.

The game has a nice, satisfying loop of a few quests to start a chapter, a new area to explore, some story, and then a nice dungeon. Even if the story isn't the greatest, I think the game does a good job at presenting things in nice, digestible chunks that keep things moving forward. The dungeons are great. I love the way that Ys IX integrates the Monstrums' gifts, like the one that had me sailing across cliff faces with Hawk's power, or the multi-level dungeon that made it fascinating to look through walls with Doll's.

Yes, they do a great job of tying everything together nicely. It all just fits into place to make a smooth experience. That loop you mentioned was also really nice for me, since I could sit down for an hour or two and knock out a part of it before stopping to take care of something else and feel like I accomplished something.

So I just finished up Ys IX today and as my first Ys game ever, I'm very impressed. I thought that I'd hit a grindy wall at the first


"Full Moon Grimwald Nox"

battle, but then I discovered that I had completely overlooked the Boost mechanic. I was just ignoring that gauge and not using it at all. Oh, and I missed the tutorial about upgrading your "pillar thingy" (can't remember its name). Once I did those things, the difficulty dropped significantly. To be fair, I'm a self-inflicted victim of the "too many tutorials causes me to dismiss tutorials then I miss an important tutorial syndrome."

Congrats kstress! And, sorry for the delay. I'll get you leveled up tomorrow.

LastSurprise wrote:

Congrats kstress! And, sorry for the delay. I'll get you leveled up tomorrow.

Thanks! I'm so glad to have been turned on to this game series.

For anyone wanting more Ys, Ys VIII is on super sale right now on Green Man Gaming and Fanatical for $12, which is by far the lowest price yet.

With March about half done, I think I'm going to pivot from Tales back to Ys IX, so I can see if I can finish it by the end of our play period. Wish me luck!

LastSurprise wrote:

With March about half done, I think I'm going to pivot from Tales back to Ys IX, so I can see if I can finish it by the end of our play period. Wish me luck!

You can do it!

I'm back in it! When I left off, in favor of Tales of Arise, I was about halfway through the dungeon at the end of Chapter 6. I cleared that, and now I'm in the new, wide-open area in Chapter 7 (outside the city, before the dungeon.

Cleared Chapter 7; on to Chapter 8! The story finally feels like it's picking up a bit, which is good because I feel like it's been dragging. I can totally finish this in the next 12 days.

I’ve been home sick the past few days. On the one hand, it sucks. But on the other, I’ve gotten to binge some of this game. I’m closing in on the end: I’ve just finished the very last Grimwald section — so that the trophy has popped — and am one side quest away from clearing all those, too. That’s a lot of progress, and the end is in sight!

Some story thoughts:


As much as I thought the game’s story is just average, I actually liked the homunculus twist/reveal. It’s a clever concept and, in some ways, I think the game builds to it well with all its backstory about the 100 years war and St. Rosvita. On the other hand, it did feel a little bit like a deus ex machina twist. I feel like it would have landed better if there were just a few more clues about the nature of the research going on, or a bit more commentary from Adol about how weird it was that many of the enemies seemed a throwback to his past adventures.

A couple bigger picture — and non spoiler — thoughts: the use of almost-but-not-quite real world names bothered me in Ys VIII (like Sahad being from “Greek”), and it continues to feel like lazy writing here. Grimnir and Luki? The 100 years’ war as a proxy for Ragnarok? “Gllia”? It is also irritating, to me, that some of the names and concepts used by Ys are too on the nose, and others are anachronistic. Like the game is set a city inspired by Paris, but the old Norse faith was big there (wrong part of the world!) and Paris (or Gaul) was seized by the Rome and it’s emperor, except he’s actually a king here, and imperial Rome is a medieval kingdom. But then, some soldiers have guns? They don’t seem to be in wide use though.

Also, having played three Trails games and three Ys games now, it’s very clear that this studio has a writing style, or at least that they have very consistent translation. One common thing that I’ve noticed across games: the unnecessary response by one character to another. And it often comes in exactly the same format: “So that’s what happened.” Or “so that’s why.” I feel like some of these games could use a good editor to trim dialogue or make it feel less repetitive.

Setting my gripes aside, though, I’m glad I came back to it! It was easy to jump right back in and I feel like I didn’t miss a beat. Ys’s combat system feels easy to pick up and fun to play, as always.

Anybody else still playing this, and making a push to get finished? I'm right at the doorway to the final boss, just trying to grind out a couple of trophies before I cross that threshold.