I Played a Few Hours of Ys IX

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Bowl-of-Lentils

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#1  Edited By Bowl-of-Lentils

The ninth installment in the Ys franchise was released yesterday for the PlayStation 4 and I thought I’d share my thoughts on what I’ve played of the game so far (just started the third chapter). Now, I’ve played a bit of each entry in the Ys series, with Oath in Felghana being my favorite of the older titles, but I didn’t really fall in love with the franchise till I played Ys VIII in 2017. Despite that game’s rough initial translation, I really enjoyed Ys VIII’s likeable cast, fun tropical setting and snappy combat. So I’ve been eagerly anticipating the franchise’s next entry.

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The first thing that stood out to me was the change in tone. Ys VIII is set on a very colorful island and the game begins with Adol fighting monsters on the shores of a beach set to the sounds of a rocking soundtrack. Ys IX instead takes place in a gothic prison city called Balduq and begins with Adol escaping from said prison. On the surface it seems like the game is going to be much gloomier compared to VIII. However, it actually feels more like a superhero story. While Adol is escaping the prison, he is cursed by a mysterious woman named Aprilis, who transforms him into an alter echo named the Crimson King. As the Crimson King, Adol gains new superhuman abilities and is forced to do whatever Aprilis asks of him which includes fighting monsters that are bleeding in from another realm. Additionally Adol is no longer able to leave the city due to his curse and he now has to work together with several other people that have been cursed like him and who’s real identities are all hidden from each other. Together they are called Monstrum and, in between doing missions for Aprilis, they use their newfound abilities to help the citizens of Balduq city.

Characters with superhuman powers. Secret identities. Vigilante justice. Ys IX feels like a story straight out of a superhero comic combined with a bit of gothic anime edginess.

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This superhero feeling even extends to the gameplay. Ys VIII was originally made for the PlayStation Vita and it shows in the game’s structure, with the island being split up into a series of small maps. Ys IX is the franchise’s first game to be made from the ground up for an HD console and thus the team at Falcom went for a much more open design. I’m hesitant to call the game an “open-world” RPG but it is clear that Falcom is trying to take elements from open-world games and incorporate them into the traditional linear structure of the series. The game mostly takes place in one large map that is the city of Balduq and Adol can use his newfound Monstrum abilities to grapple hook to ledges, double jump onto roofs and wall run up towers. It feels similar to open-world superhero games like Infamous and Adol can even collect orbs, fight pockets of enemies and find hidden treasure chests while exploring the city, just like you would expect. It is a lot of fun and I actually found myself jumping around roof tops just because it was so satisfying to just zip around the city. However, you can tell that this is Falcom’s first time making maps this large since the framerate often takes a big hit on the base-model PS4. The framerate drops often while exploring Balduq but combat often takes place in smaller dungeon areas where the framerate is almost always a solid 60, so I haven’t found it to impede gameplay too much. It’s distracting for sure but again it hasn’t hampered my enjoyment of the game so far.

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Additionally, the story seems pretty interesting so far. Like I said before, I find the gothic setting mixed with a superhero narrative to be pretty entertaining but the characters also seem to be just as charming as the cast from Ys VIII. Also there are a lot of fun mysteries to chew on. All of the Monstrums look very different from their real-world identities, so there are some fun moments where the game reveals what the characters really look like. There are also a lot of mysteries surrounding Aprilis and what her goals are. But, so far, the game hasn’t really revealed too much about what her deal is. There are even some twists that are hinted at a bit further into the game that actually surprised me. There is a moment at the end of the 2nd chapter that actually made me go: “Wait, what is really going on here?” It’s fun stuff and I look forward to digging deeper into the game.

So, all in all, I’m having a real good time with Ys IX so far. Framerate problems aside, the game is really fun to play and the story has got my attention. There is a certain something about IX in particular that exudes a "B-Game Charm." The game feels scrappy in a way that VIII did not. It almost feels like the open-world design is a bit too much for the game to handle at times while still being really enjoyable. While the environments can often appear grey and empty, there is also a certain je ne sais quoi about the world of IX. Again, it feels like a B-game in the best possible way. Ys IX is punching above its weight and I’m having a fun time with it.

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#2 rorie  Staff

Of all the big JRPG franchises, I think Ys is the only one I've never touched. I don't even really know why, to be honest! Does this have a PC port?

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Noble_Samurai

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@rorie: PS4 only right now, Coming to PC and Switch sometime this Summer.

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I've played through Ys: The Ark of Napishtim and I think I've played most of Ys Origin and some of Ys: The Oath in Felghana. However, I seem to remember them being very grindy (possibly I just wasn't very good at them).

As I get older I have much less patience for games which waste my time, and in general it seems JRPG's are kind of stuck in the past in that way.

@bowl-of-lentils is Ys IX more modern in that sense (any difficulty options?), or is it the same grindy stuff we got 15 years ago?

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Bowl-of-Lentils

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#5  Edited By Bowl-of-Lentils

@warpr: Ys VIII is a much more modern title compared to Ark, Origins and Oath in Felghana (all of which came out in the early 2000s) and Ys IX is very similar. Both games have tons of difficultly options (IX has like 6) and you can change them at any time in the option menu. The older Ys titles can indeed be kind of grindy but VIII and IX (from what I can tell so far) are not like that. Also both games have very quick action-based combat systems so the pacing overall is much faster than many JRPGs (although there is still quite a bit of talking at times). If you want to try them out and have a PS4, there are demos for both Ys VIII and IX you can play. I highly recommend VIII, it was one of the best games I played in 2017, and IX seems to be real good as well from what I've played so far. Can't promise you'll like them but they're worth checking out if they look like something you'd be into.

@rorie: Ys has had a spotty release history in the west for a long time but thankfully pretty much every entry in the series is translated and easily available now. I'd highly recommend VIII or IX if you want to dip your toe into the series. They are a lot of fun. VIII has a PC port and IX is getting one later this year.

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I'm glad this one sounds good from everything I've read and am excited to get around to it... whenever I realize deciding to play every Ys game in order isn't that important lol. Thanks for the write-up.

@rorie:Ys VIII is very well regarded for the series (and from what I've heard, IX is pretty similar to it gameplay-wise) and that's already on PC if you're interested.

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#7  Edited By chaser324  Moderator

Ys VIII is an amazing game, so I'm very excited to get my hands on this when it hits PC.

Most of what I've heard about Ys IX makes it sound like it's a slight step back, but in general, it sounds like this is yet another example of Falcom being one of the most consistent and disciplined developers out there.

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I loved Ys VIII and I really want to play this but I just have too many games going right now. It's moved to near the top of the backlog though.

Anyone who is curious about Ys should try Ys VIII. It's on everything except the Xbox, it's frequently on sale, and if you like action RPGs it's fantastic. It looks like a Vita game because that's where it started but the soundtrack is astonishing, the plot is...tolerable...and the gameplay is pretty simple but also addictive. It starts off a little boring because Adol is a little boring, but Ricotta is best girl and a lot of the NPCs are...tolerable.

The plot is truly gaga bananas in the most JRPG way possible.

I'm glad to hear Ys IX is more of the same. I will be playing this and relatively soon.

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warpr

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#9  Edited By warpr

@bowl-of-lentils Thanks, that's good to know! (Don't have a PlayStation, perhaps I'll give these a try on Switch at some point, it doesn't seem likely they're coming to Xbox soon).

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Your impressions of this are very similar to mine, good writeup! I just finished Chapter 2 myself and am very curious about the Weird Thing that happens at the end there. I have a feeling it is related to the bit of voiceover you get from the reading of Adol's journal early on.

I'm a longtime fan of this series (I've played all the entries that have come out in English, and even some that didn't, but have fan translations like Ys V) and was very surprised about the atypical tone of the game; they usually don't start out so supernatural from the get-go like this one does. And your framing of it as a goth-tinged superhero story is 100% the same thought I had.

I love the mobility additions that they have added due to the Monstrum gifts (aka superpowers), being able to just straight up wallrun makes even the early dungeons/areas fun to traverse, and they are able to hide treasure chests in fun, out of the way places.

I will echo other people's sentiments, and say if you are not familiar with this series (which I feel like you should be, it is basically the granddaddy of action RPGs), Ys VIII is a fantastic entry. I love the setting and structure of that game, and it has a killer soundtrack that I still consistently listen to (which is generally the case for Falcom's games).

You can jump into any game in the series, really, they are all basically separate adventures that Adol (and your best friend Dogi!) goes on. Ys IX does have a lot of fun nods early on to other entries, though, if you are a longtime fan. The starting point of this game is very funny in that context, you are basically thrown into jail because of the running gag of the series that basically every time Adol is on some sort of water travel device, there is some sort of mishap - Ys V has a bit with a raft, the intro of Ys VI is Adol being washed up on a beach, being shipwrecked is the entire conceit of Ys VIII, etc. (p.s. I appreciate the use of the screenshot where Adol is being interrogated about this).

Looking forward to playing the rest of this! (Although I am currently juggling this & Atelier Ryza 2, so it might take a little longer than usual...they scratch 2 very different JRPG itches, but both are quite good so far).

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Good write-up. I really need to play one of these at some point.

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Good stuff. VIII was my GOTY back in 2017. I'm glad it sounds like this installment keeps that sense of "What mystery am I going to uncover next?" that kept the last game so engaging.

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#13  Edited By doctordonkey

The Ys series has such a great soundtrack. I've played every single Ys game to completion except XI and it's just chalk full of both bangers and really beautiful pieces as well. Give Sunshine Coast a listen, it slaps.

I agree with the sentiment that if you are interested in Ys, try VIII. It's a great entry point for newcomers and if you are interested in whatever else Adol Christin got up to (hint: it involves being an absolutely awful shipwright) you can go back and start at the beginning, Ys 1+2

Gameplay wise the series is kinda split into 3. You got the "bump" system where you bump into enemies to do damage, which was only used for the first 4 Ys games, before 3 & 4 got remade and localized (Oath in Felghana, Memories of Celceta). The "Napishtim" engine, which is the 3 games: Napishtim, Oath in Felghana, and Ys Origins. This was when the series was basically an isometric character action lite game. The last and current system is the "Seven" or party system. Ys Seven, Memories of Celceta, VIII and XI use this system, and fans are generally split between preferring this type of gameplay system or the Napishtim engine.

Check this site out for anything Ys. It's basically the Ys bible.

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