Advertisements

Ys IX: Monstrum Nox (PS5) Review

NIS America has embraced the PlayStation 5, re-releasing a selection of their games on the new hardware to take advantage of higher framerates and/or resolutions. We’ve previously seen Void Terrarium++ and Ys VIII come over to Sony’s current-gen system, with The Caligula Effect 1 and 2 on the way – they even brought over R-Type 2 and named it R-Type 3, ‘remastering’ the game in Unreal Engine 5 and added some new content. Today I’m going to take a look at their latest PS5 re-release, Ys IX: Monstrum of Nox.

I reviewed Ys IX back in January 2021, when it initially launched on the PlayStation 4, so this review will be mainly focused on the technical side of the PS5 port, as well as general information regarding the game mechanics and my opinion on whether you should pick this up. If you want a comprehensive review covering the game in much more detail, please check out my PS4 review HERE.

With that being said, I’ve played the new PS5 version for over 140 hours, obtained the platinum and spent a long time customising my controls (I’m so happy I have a DualSense Edge controller) – but, is this new version worth buying if you’ve already played the PS4 version? Let’s find out…

Ys IX Monstrum Nox PS5 1+1

Looking sharp, Adol!

Ys IX sees the return of our quirky adventurer, Adol Christin, and his trusty companion, Dogi. Whilst adventuring they head towards Balduq, a large city which is also known as the ‘Prison City’ due to its massive impenetrable prison. Upon reaching the gate, Adol is arrested for crimes he’s committed during previous adventures and thrown into a cell awaiting his sentence. After breaking out of his cell – no lock can trap Adol – he meets up with a strange lady named Aprilis, a mysterious individual who enchants and mutates Adol into a Monstrum.

I guess the question is, what’s a Monstrum? A Monstrum can freely transform between their current form and an enhanced powerful combat-ready ‘superhero’ within the real world and the ‘Grimwald Nox’. These special individuals may be weak, handicapped, or not even human in the real world. Yet, they possess incredible strength, unique special abilities, and powerful attacks once they unleash their inner persona. Aside from Adol, there are five others within the City, together you’re the only defence against the invasion of creatures creeping through the Grimwald Nox as regular citizens can’t see or interact with these otherworldly demons.

Your newly acquired gift is more like a curse – despite bringing you incredible powers and abilities, you’re all trapped within Balduq thanks to magical barriers placed within and outside the city walls. To discover the truth you must make alliances with the other Monstrums, defeat giant beasts, and enhance your abilities, all whilst meticulously mapping out 100% of the map and cataloguing everything you pick up and slay!

Ys IX Monstrum Nox PS5 2+1

They saw a mirror and became confused over their rather dashing outfits!

The PS5 experience
Ys IX: Monstrum Nox runs at a rather fantastic full 4K resolution and a very stable 60fps – throughout my entire dual-playthrough I don’t recall any noticeable dips in performance or quality. This would be a great advantage over the original PS4 version if it wasn’t for the fact that NIS America released a PS5-aware patch a few months after launch, pushing the original version (when played on a PS5 console) to a native 4K whilst maintaining a (mostly) stable 60fps – when played on a PS4 or PS4 Pro the framerate was quite wobbly and the resolution was locked at 1080p.

For me, the new higher resolution was new as I’d obtained the platinum pre-launch whilst the game ran at only 1080p, so I had no reason to go back, but if you’d only played it once the update dropped then you’re going to be getting a very similar experience with this new ‘non-upgradable’ PS5 version. Even the loading speeds are very similar when running the last-gen version on a PS5 or the new native PS5 release, there is a bigger difference when comparing the PS5 version to last-gen running on a PS4 or PS4 Pro though.

The only other ‘immediately’ obvious benefit to playing the new PS5 version over the PS4 release are the included DLC packs – as we saw with Ys VIII previously. If you were to buy all of the cosmetic DLC packs for the PS4, you’re looking at around £20, so this (practically) brings the price of the game down to £24.99 – but if you’re not interested in the cosmetic items then you may feel like you’re paying too much to re-buy a game you’ve played before at similar visual and performance settings. I honestly don’t know why this game, and Ys VIII, wasn’t a free or small fee upgrade (as we’ve seen with Real Farm, some PSVR 2 games, and Sony First-Party titles).

Right: PS4 | Left: PS5

ps4
ps5

Visual Differences
So, are we getting a maxed-out-settings PC port which runs at a solid 60fps and 4K… not quite. The latter is true but not the former. To me, it looks like a lot of the settings are on par with the original PS4 release – including the draw distance which I just tested in both versions, it’s identical. However, the entire game seems to have had a slight colour alteration, as we saw with Judgement when it jumped over to the PS5. As you can see above, the PS4 version (on the left) looks ‘washed-out’ in comparison to the PS5 (on the right) – the colours appear much darker and defined with the Monstrum effects standing out due to their striking vivid colours against a darker environment.

Another difference is the UI. Again, as you can see above, the info boxes that appear when you remain idle for a short while are now much easier to read at the expense of taking up more room on the screen – these instantly vanish once you move though, so they don’t obstruct gameplay. I’m a fan of these as one of my complaints was that the ones in the original PS4 version were almost impossible for me to read on my 65″ TV from a decent viewing distance.  They’ve also adjusted the location of the various UI elements which I believe was done so the game supports ultra-wide monitors (again, this is PC only and not an option on console).

A subtle change in the visuals can be seen in regards to the shadows – some objects don’t appear to have them in the PS4 version, such as the bushes above. There’s also Anti-Aliasing to ensure most of the edges and nice and smooth without too many jaggies on display, plus either the Ambient Occlusion has been increased or it’s just easier to see now that the colours have been ‘enhanced’. Overall, I like the new look as everything looks more defined and rich in colour, I just wish the other settings had been increased a little, even if it meant offering a 1080p mode with an emphasis on quality.

Ys IX Monstrum Nox PS5 4+1

I would also be a ‘happy girl’ if more enhancements and features were ported over!

Missing/anticipated features and settings
One of the major differences between the original PS4 version and the PC release was the addition of cooperative multiplayer, this was added post-launch and seemed to work pretty well. However, despite this new PS5 version being based on the PC release (and not the original PS4 version), there’s no multiplayer in sight. If this would have been included then I imagine more people would have taken the plunge and double-dipped on the game, just so they could play through the story with their friends online. Sadly, this experimental feature is still a ‘PC Exclusive’.

Another strange omission is the ability to run at an unlocked framerate. This was also a feature included in the PC version, allowing compatible monitors and capable PCs to run the game up to 144fps and at any resolution up to 8K – although I doubt anyone has the horsepower to push the game that far and still get decent performance! I’m not bothered about the resolution, as 4K is perfectly acceptable, but not giving PS5 owners the ability to unlock the framerate is disappointing – even Ys VIII gave us the option, although we had to force the game to load in 1080p mode via the PS5 system settings for this to activate.

Finally, I was hoping for more visual settings to be bumped up in this ‘enhanced’ edition. Sure, there seem to be signs of improved visual effects such as Anti-Aliasing and Ambient Occlusion, with a subtle change in the colour, but other settings such as the draw distance have been left at the PS4 setting or, in some cases, lowered! That’s right, if you’ve played the PS4 version then you’ll be aware of the notorious pop-in that occurs in all areas, with people and enemies appearing out of nowhere as you get closer – that’s still a thing. Also, performance-heavy sections, like the cornfield, have had the draw distance slightly lowered so it can maintain a solid 60fps.

Ys IX Monstrum Nox PS5 5+1

The 30fps cutscenes are clearly a lower resolution and quality.

Is everything 60fps?
No, it’s not. Throughout the game there are two types of cutscenes, real-time and pre-rendered. The in-game real-time cutscenes run at 60fps and look just like the actual gameplay, these are often panning shots of the Grimwald Nox just before you start the arena battle or simple cutscenes with interactions from your characters. However, there are a few pre-rendered cutscenes which run at 30fps (and a little choppy as well), these are when Aprilis calls upon you in the Grimwald Nox and a handful at key moments of the story.

These stand out and it’s a shame they didn’t either re-render them or simply recreate them using the in-game engine so they all run at 60fps. I know using the original PS4 files is the quickest and easiest option, but considering this is a full-priced product and not a free or small fee upgrade, you’d kinda expect it to be the best it can be. At least it’s not as bad as another game I’m currently playing for review…

Previous game bonuses
Just like the original PS4 release, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox gives you two bonus items based on if you’ve played certain previous games. You get one for Ys: Memories of Celceta and one for Ys VIII. Everyone automatically gets the award for Celceta as that game never got ported to the PS5, so you’ll get it upon starting a new game, but you’ll only get the Ys VIII bonus if you have a save file for the PlayStation 5 version of the game – if you only have a PS4 save then it won’t be detected. These items are useful for the first few hours, increasing your stats and making battles a little easier, but you’ll soon swap them for new gear you find in-game, so it’s not a big issue if you can’t unlock them.

Ys IX Monstrum Nox PS5 6+1

He may be big, but he looks fantastic on the PS5!

PC enhancements on PS5?
As above, the team which ported the game from PC to consoles didn’t seem to take full advantage of the PlayStation 5 hardware. Sure, we have some visual tweaks, the UI has been slightly updated, and performance seems to be much better than the Backwards Compatible PS4 version, but did they bring over any PC-specific features? As a matter of fact, they did; they kept the option to play the game with a keyboard and mouse…

That’s right, the only additional PC option I can find is the ability to fully remap the game to work with a keyboard and mouse natively – as we saw in Ys VIII previously. I’ve not tried this feature but I imagine it’ll work just as well as it does on the PC. One advantage this has over using the PlayStation 5’s DualSense has to be the number of keys on a keyboard – using a controller is quite fiddly and often requires you to invest time into fully remapping it until you find your preferred layout as there are so many buttons which double as two actions due to the limited number available.

Thankfully, I bought myself a DualSense Edge when they released earlier this year, so I was able to remap various commands to buttons I hardly use, such as R3 and Triangle, and then map those to the rear paddles, making it more efficient for my fingers. When I played the PS4 version back in 2019 I used my NACON Revolution Unlimited Pro Controller, which also had programmable rear paddles. I’m sure some people could simply get used to the default layout, but I’m happy that Nihon Falcom provides the option to literally remap every single command in all instances (such as within menus or during gameplay).

Ys IX Monstrum Nox PS5 7+1

Am I the only one seeing various ‘lady bits’ in this image?!

Was the platinum fun?
Yes and no. I love this game, and completing it again after two years was lots of fun. I remembered most things yet there were still a few moments I had totally forgotten about. One thing I remembered was to save frequently and check the quest log every time I started a new chapter to ensure I didn’t miss any ‘hidden’ quests – which I did, again. It’s easy to miss these as you often have to farm enemies so you can unlock two portals a chapter, rather than the mandatory one, just so you can enter a new region and activate a quest within it. If you don’t, you either have to complete them all again in a second playthrough or load a previous save and ensure you complete them before moving to a new chapter.

Thankfully, the platinum for Ys IX: Monstrum Nox isn’t anywhere near as tedious as the Trails games, you can grab the Platinum in a single playthrough if you start on Nightmare and ensure you do everything. The only other missable is the character pages (maybe), you have to ensure you talk to everyone in the Dandelion every time you’re sent back there as there are one or two interactions which may not be possible in later chapters. Other than that, it’s very easy to own all the items, unlock all weapons, and record all creatures (as long as you defeat the ‘wheel’ in the coliseum). The only slog was getting every character’s abilities up to their max levels – this took many hours of post-game grinding because I didn’t focus on unlocking them whilst playing the game (I forgot this was a trophy).

Now, version 1.0 has a major issue for those looking to obtain the platinum in two playthroughs. Usually, when you complete the game you’re given the option to save the game, creating a NG+ file which carries all your levels and items over to a new playthrough, making a Nightmare run much easier. However, the game currently doesn’t let you save upon completion, it just *beeps* at you. The developers are aware of this and are hoping to push out a patch to resolve the issue soon, but until it is, you’ll either have to start on Nightmare mode, play it twice without any carried forward items (if you want to play on a lower difficulty first), or get to the end and wait for the patch to drop so you can create the NG+ save.

Patch 1.001 has just dropped here in the UK (possibly in other regions too). I’ve tested and this resolved the above issue, you can now create a NG+ save upon completing the game, allowing you to carry forward all your gold, map completion, items, levels, and other aspects into a new game. This’ll make your second playthrough on a harder difficulty much easier.

I basically played through the game on Normal, completing everything, then discovered this bug. Because I’m very impatient, I then played the entire game from scratch on Nightmare mode – it was quite hard as the bosses can literally kill you with two or three hits. But, I was able to make it through thanks to the game offering to lower the boss’s difficulty if you die a few times – this doesn’t affect the difficulty-based trophy and it made taking out the bosses a little easier.

Ys IX Monstrum Nox PS5 8+1

Of course I had to take a picture of the legendary three-testicle-chinned bird!

Opinion – should you buy this version?
I love NIS America and Nihon Falcom, but I thought this was a nice but basic port of the PC version. It looks and performs better than the PS4 version did on the original consoles or via Backwards Compatibility, but there are a lot of improvements and features surprisingly absent. There’s no 120fps or unlocked framerate mode, no cooperative multiplayer, the same short draw distance, no obvious loading speed advantage, and there are still some 30fps cutscenes which stand out like a sore thumb against the 60fps cutscenes and gameplay.

If you’ve never played the game before then this is clearly the definitive console edition, bundling the game with around £20 worth of cosmetic DLCs, but if you have PS Plus Tiers 2 or 3 then the original PS4 version is included as part of the service, allowing you to play the game for ‘free’ either on last-gen consoles or the PlayStation 5 via Backwards Compatibility. Sure, the performance and visual quality will differ depending on which platform you play it on, but the gameplay and story are identical. As such, I firmly believe that this should have been a free or small fee upgrade, along with Ys VIII and a few others they’re porting over later this year – I can’t see very many people paying full price for this if they’ve already played it and/or the game remains in the PS Plus library.

If we pretend you’ve never played the game and you don’t have PS Plus then yes, I highly recommend the PS5 version of Ys IX: Monstrum Nox. I really enjoyed the story, it was funny, action-packed, and interesting, and the gameplay was fast, frantic, and simple to pick up (despite the controller taking a while to get used to). A lot of time is spent within the walls of Balduq, but you’ll eventually break out and get to explore a few big open areas along with many Grimwald Nox battles, dungeons, bosses, and hidden stashes to find. I also thoroughly enjoyed unlocking new abilities by teaming up with new Monstrums, learning new powerful skills, and completing all the side-missions for the quirky inhabitants of the city.

Official Trailer:

Final Conclusion:
Ys IX: Monstrum Nox was just as fun as I remembered, only this time more polished and stable. The developers have ported over the PC version along with a number of minor visual tweaks and adjustments, yet they’ve omitted a number of useful features such as an unlocked framerate, cooperative multiplayer, and increasing visual settings such as draw distance. Overall I enjoyed playing through the game again but it’s hard to recommend to those that have played the original PS4 version on a PS5 console or those with a PS Plus subscription (as it’s currently on there), yet it’s easy to recommend to new players and those that wish to replay the experience.

I wish NIS America would look into offering small fee upgrade options for their PS5 upgrades, as they have a few more coming out later this year – I don’t expect every upgrade to be free. I believe they would actually sell more copies this way, especially when the post-launch PS5-aware patch already did a decent job at enhancing the original PS4 version. However, this new Native PS5 version is clearly superior in both quality and performance.

A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

Ys IX: Monstrum Nox

£44.99
8

Score for the PS5 Port

8.0/10

The Good:

  • The game looks super sharp and runs without any obvious issues
  • The new colour tone makes the spectacular Monsturm attacks really stand out
  • Includes around £20 worth of cosmetic DLCs
  • The game itself is brilliant and I still agree with my original 9/10 review covering the game itself
  • The definitive 'console' edition of the game

The Bad:

  • No cooperative multiplayer, which is on PC
  • I would have liked more visual upgrades, such as draw distance, and a 120fps mode
  • The 30fps cutscenes stand out, they should have been re-made
  • Although the game looks fantastic, it's not a massive leap over the PS4 version
  • There's no upgrade path, you have to buy the game again if you wish to 'upgrade'
Share this article!

You may also like...

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
11 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Puravive
3 months ago

I loved you better than you would ever be able to express here. The picture is beautiful, and your wording is elegant; nonetheless, you read it in a short amount of time. I believe that you ought to give it another shot in the near future. If you make sure that this trek is safe, I will most likely try to do that again and again.

BusinesAfair
2 months ago

I loved as much as youll receive carried out right here The sketch is tasteful your authored material stylish nonetheless you command get bought an nervousness over that you wish be delivering the following unwell unquestionably come more formerly again since exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this hike

tvbrackets
2 months ago

Wow wonderful blog layout How long have you been blogging for you make blogging look easy The overall look of your site is great as well as the content

NeuroTest dosage
1 month ago

Excellent blog here Also your website loads up very fast What web host are you using Can I get your affiliate link to your host I wish my web site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

qweqtt
23 days ago

I was recommended this website by my cousin I am not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my trouble You are amazing Thanks

qweqtt
23 days ago

Its like you read my mind You appear to know a lot about this like you wrote the book in it or something I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit but instead of that this is fantastic blog An excellent read I will certainly be back

qweqttt
20 days ago

I just could not depart your web site prior to suggesting that I really loved the usual info an individual supply in your visitors Is gonna be back regularly to check up on new posts

qweqttt
20 days ago

Hello Neat post Theres an issue together with your site in internet explorer would check this IE still is the marketplace chief and a large element of other folks will leave out your magnificent writing due to this problem

qweqttt
20 days ago

Attractive section of content I just stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital to assert that I get actually enjoyed account your blog posts Anyway I will be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently fast

khaleejuae
14 days ago

Hi Neat post Theres an issue together with your web site in internet explorer may test this IE still is the marketplace chief and a good component of people will pass over your fantastic writing due to this problem

freetemporaryemail
3 days ago

The degree to which I appreciate your creations is equal to your own sentiment. Your sketch is tasteful, and the authored material is stylish. Yet, you seem uneasy about the prospect of embarking on something that may cause unease. I agree that you’ll be able to address this matter efficiently.