Monstrum Nox (Switch) – Games Asylum

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While Monstrum Nox is the newest entry in Falcom’s long-running Ys series, if you haven’t played previous entries, then don’t worry. Monstrum Nox happens to be an ideal entry point, with a (mostly) self-contained story and mechanics that are introduced slowly and sensibly.

Monstrum Nox puts you in the footsteps of Adol Cristian again. He is the protagonist of the Ys series – an adventurer with so many stories and quests that his fame is known across the country. Like a Fantasy Bear Grylls with less urine intake. He was arrested immediately upon his arrival in Balduq. A prison break follows. As if that wasn’t enough drama, it gains a range of magical powers.

These powers are the result of Adol being turned into a monster. This grants Adol all kinds of special attacks and the ability to teleport from one place to another. However, it makes him look like the lead singer of 2002’s worst nu metal band.

In the course of the story you will meet other monsters. Everyone has their own usable power and the monsters themselves are wonderfully designed. Why you were given this fate (ergo, the reason for everyone’s huge shoulder pads) then becomes the main mystery.

It’s a very stupid line-up. Throughout the game, you’ll use your powers in action RPG battles, slashing through a range of really strange enemies and dodging, while using your skills to explore the city, talk to townspeople, and take on side quests.

It’s in the city where everything comes to life. Monstrum Nox feels like a throwback to the good old days. Although it can be shabby at times around the edges, the city is full of quirky people to chat to and there are plenty of things to see and do. You can find viewpoints and collectibles – which give bonuses – and browse the various shops. It is even possible to donate food to those in need.

Balduq feels like a real place, and its vastness has never led us to explore outside the city walls. Especially when you get the chance to run up walls in parkour style.

The fight takes three different forms. There are markers around the city that summon monsters when they encounter them – the kind that city dwellers cannot see. These fights typically last about a minute and are a hands-on way to gain experience and test skills.

Then there are underground dungeons that you must explore during the adventure. These can be quite long and challenging, and for the most part are extremely linear. With that we stay with the Grimwald Nox. This is a combat area where you will be accompanied by your fellow monsters and you will have to survive waves of enemies trying to destroy a crystal. Fortunately, you can use bait crystals and cannons to aid you in your fight, and the AI ​​for the other monsters is pretty good and will provide you with decent help. These events are generally used to unlock new parts of the city.

Basically there are a lot of fights and Monstrum Nox doesn’t always justify it. The systems are more than functional, but I never felt like I was doing much more than just pushing a button. The fight looks noticeable and an observer might have thought I was making formidable attacks, but I never felt fluidly connected to my actions. However, the fact that the fight isn’t particularly deep makes it easy to see the story. If you fail some sections then you can proceed as if you completed the section correctly which is a nice accessibility.

I had a great time with Ys IX. It’s over the top and silly. However, it’s not perfect. At some point I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of mechanics. Completed quests sometimes add a new friend who lives in your hiding place, and each new friend introduces new mechanics, as well as a “Friendship O-Meter” that you can increase by giving away items. It’s like Falcom saw the mechanics in every other RPG and started collecting them.

We also had some problems with the story. Although we were mostly charming and funny, we grimaced at one point in the act. It’s also a little rough around the edges – some fights suffer from frame rate hickups, and the budget constraints are evident in a seedy character model and textures. A figure’s breasts also seemed to be made of water balloons (!)

Despite these drawbacks, Ys IX is a huge success. It welcomes new players while also pointing out the older games. The fight isn’t deep, but it’s pretty fun in a thoughtless way. Its real strengths lie in exploration, traversal mechanics, and fun characters. Anyone looking for hack-and-slash fun or a new role-playing game should do some research. You are Nox, you will be disappointed.

Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is now available on Switch.


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