Ys IX: Monstrum Nox can certainly appear daunting at first glance. Between the complex combat mechanics and the densely populated city of Balduq, it doesn’t take long to feel like your in over your head. However, the developers at Nihon Falcom have done a wonderful job of allowing players to either simply experience the game without getting too far into the weeds, or to spend hours of fun exploring the city looking for collectibles and equipment to overpower your team.
Ys IX begins with Adol Christin, the mostly silent protagonist of the Ys series, getting carted off to prison due to his previous adventures that have caught the eye of the Romun Empire. The first order of business is to escape the prison and get some kind of grasp at what’s going on. A tutorial section during the escape is the first taste of how the combat system works.
The combat mechanics of Ys IX is simple to learn, and awfully fun to master. Each Monstrum controls the same though each has their own unique weapon and special attacks.
Standard attacks are done with the Square button, running around is controlled with the left stick. Locking focus onto an enemy is Triangle and switching characters while in battle is done with circle. With the action being so fast and furious, the safest bet is to simply hold the dash button in combat for maximum speed.
The skills or unique attacks are assigned to four different slots and can be rearranged in any order. The slots are connected to the shape buttons and are activated by holding the R1 when choosing a unique attack. Be sure to hold R1 first or pressing of the button could result in an unintended action such as switching characters instead of the unique attack assigned to circle. Each unique attack has an SP value required, and the SP meter is represented by the blue circle. If there isn’t enough SP to activate the skill, the corresponding skill will be dark until the SP meter replenishes.
Each time a hit has been landed, the special attack gauge fills up, once it hits the half way point whichever character is active can be put into an overdrive status. In this status, the active character regains some health and the attacks increase in damage. The main benefit of this status however, is a special attack that has high damage and can hit multiple enemies within its vicinity.
The last basic item to know about combat is how to dodge. Two special dodges can be performed in order to gain a temporary stat boost. The first is the flash move. By hitting L1 right before an enemy attack, the character will flash dodge which provides a temporary boost in speed. The flash guard is triggered by hitting R1 right before an enemy attack which both dodges said attack and increases damage for a short period of time.
Spread out across the city are different collectibles: Azure Petals, Treasure Chest, and Graffiti. The chests do provide some useful items for early on but there’s no reason to worry about these collectibles early on. The benefits for locating the petals and graffiti are not applicable until very late in the game so feel free to go at your own pace.
ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE
The main thing to remember is the Ys IX does a terrific job of explaining things at the time when they are important. Many different items will become useful later on, and those who really get into the weeds can power up their team later on in the game. If you just want to get in and start walloping enemies, that’s ok. At the normal difficulty most should be able to jump right in with no knowledge of the series and have a great time right away.