Ys IX: Monstrum Nox (PS5) – Review
Follow Genre: Action RPG
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PC, PS4, Switch, PS5
Tested on: PS5

Ys IX: Monstrum Nox (PS5) – Review

Site Score
Good: Fun action combat, Interesting story and characters
Bad: Doesn't look that much better than the previous generation version
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A lot of JRPG series have been around for a few decades but many are not that popular in the West. While there have been a lot of household names, like Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts, there are also a lot of niche series that had a more challenging time taking off overseas. One of these was the Ys franchise that started back in the eighties but didn’t get much praise outside of Japan until it released its refreshing entry Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana in 2016. That successful game was followed by a sequel, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox, in 2019. Now this newest entry in the series is coming to the PlayStation 5, making it a great time to jump into this action JRPG.


The Ys series follows the adventures of Adol and his best friend Jagi. Each installment features an original story with a brand-new cast of characters that has little connection to the previous games. This makes every entry a great starting point for new players, while also pleasing fans with nods and references to previous adventures.

This time around Adol visits the prison city of Balduq, where he is quickly imprisoned due to some misunderstanding about the fact that he is always around when the big world-ending events take place. Things take a turn for the worse when he is shot down during a prison break. To his biggest surprise, the shot doesn’t kill him but gives him new powers instead. With these powers, he is now a Monstrum, which are people with special abilities that are hunted by the authorities. The Monstrum get blamed for all crimes and mysterious things that are happening in Balduq. This makes interacting with the inhabitants of the city impossible and the Monstrum need to hide their identity. Now he has to work together with the other Monstrum to take down monsters from a different dimension, while also uncovering the mysteries of Balduq to escape the city.

While most JRPGs give you a big world to explore, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox only takes place inside the city and some of its outer regions. This works perfectly for the story since the biggest focus is on the mysteries of Balduq and its inhabitants, giving a unique spin on the classic RPG formula. This is also where the game shines, as you’re constantly working towards answers while enjoying the company of fun characters. The cast of Monstrum is a fun bunch where you will learn more about them and uncover their past. This turns the game into a more character-driven experience, which is a nice change of pace.


The Ys series adopts the typical Anime style of many JRPGs, and it delivers its best rendition in Ys IX: Monstrum Nox yet. The game was pushing the PS4 to its limits and had a lot of struggles on the Switch, but it finally has found its home on the PS5. The game runs very smoothly.

While the characters have great designs and the combat looks flashy, the world suffers due to the fact that most of the game takes place in the same location. The dark corridors of the city of Balduq create an immersive atmosphere, but they are a big departure from the exotic islands the series has visited before. The game also doesn’t deliver a typical triple-A look like, for example, the newest Final Fantasy would, as there are quite some stiff animations. That being said, this is also normal for a game that is basically four years old.


Delivering a great atmosphere is greatly dependent on a game’s soundtrack, and this is done well in Ys IX: Monstrum Nox. The background music has a mysterious touch to it that fits well with the story and setting. All of this picks up pace once the action gets going.

Just like the previous entry in the series, there is quite a bit of voice acting. Most of the important conversations are fully voiced, with mixed performances. The voice acting sounds like a typical anime dub, which has its charm but it can also be a bit too cheesy for people who aren’t into this. All of it is good enough, but it won’t be winning any awards this year. Repeated voice lines and flashy sound effects are also something you’ll have to accept during combat.


Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is an action RPG that embodies the idea of ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’. The gameplay takes everything that worked from the previous entry, while finetuning it and introducing some new elements to freshen it up.

People who have played Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana will feel right at home with the game’s combat since it uses the same controls and mechanics. You’ll have a normal attack that deals damage, but you’ll switch it up a lot with special moves that deliver a whole bunch of different effects. Four of these special moves can be equipped at a time and they can also be easily switched out. Using these moves also earns experience and turns them into more powerful versions. Together with a dodge and block mechanic that can slow down time when used at the right moment, the game delivers a fun and fast-paced combat system. You’ll also take control of different party members, each with their own collection of moves. All of these characters have a ‘type’ effect that works against different enemies, making the fact that you can switch party members on the fly a great addition. All of these features work together perfectly and promote the use of different characters and special moves, mixing up every combat encounter. This helps you get through the dozens of hours the game features with the combat never getting stale.

A big new addition in Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is the use of special gifts. Each Monstrum that joins your team unlocks a movement ability that enriches the exploration, like running up walls or gliding over big gaps. This can also be used in combat to make it a bit more dynamic. The city of Balduq is also made in a way that introduces a lot of vertical exploration to further use these abilities. While they are fun to use, it is clear the developers haven’t been working with them for long, making them a bit clunky to use at times. They work when you need them, but be prepared to fall off walls or try some jumps a few times.


Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is a great action RPG that takes everything the previous game did and kicked it up a notch. The fun and fast-paced combat is delivered alongside a great story, full of touching moments. The combat feels as smooth as ever, but the new traversal mechanics can take some time to get used to. This is also the best-looking version of the game so far, making great use of the PS5’s power to deliver a smooth experience.

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