[Ys VIII： Lacrimosa of Dana]What You Need To Know About The Ys Franchise Before Buying Ys IX： Monstrum Nox
The ninth entry of Nihon Falcom’s long-running action RPG series is finally coming to English-speaking audiences, beginning with a release on the PlayStation 4, before eventually coming to the Nintendo Switch and PC.
We’ve discussed the reasons on why any JRPG fan should jump into the series, and here are some quick FAQs for those who are interested in getting Ys IX: Monstrum Nox when it releases on February 2, 2021.
Ys ultimately doesn’t have an overarching story. Rather, it does have a central protagonist throughout the nine mainline titles. Adol Christin is a red-haired adventurer who is constantly looking for new lands to explore with his pal, Dogi. Adol and Dogi will usually stumble upon problems that are happening within the country they’re in and do their best to solve them for the greater good.
Whether it is an uncharted island with a dark secret or the ruins of an ancient desert city, there is always someplace new that Adol has to be, and a new threat for him to take down. In that regard, the stories are very much like a new arc within One Piece, which begins with the introduction of new friends and enemies, and ends with the defeat of said enemy and Adol sailing away to a new adventure.
Modern ports of the Ys series have, thankfully, been easy to find on Steam but generally, one does not need to play the previous titles to enjoy the latest games in the series. Sure, there might be some callbacks or returning mechanics for long-time fans to enjoy, but each mainline entry can usually stand on its own.
This is very similar to both the Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy series, where anyone can just jump into any numbered entry. Maybe that was just the way things were done in the ‘80s and JRPGs then hadn’t really cemented their legacies yet. Either way, if you want to jump into the series with Ys IX, it is totally doable.
It doesn’t have as much verticality or frame-by-frame precision that the Kingdom Hearts series or Nier: Automata has, but it is fun as hell. One might think that Ys’ combat might be similar to what you find in Musou games like Dynasty Warriors, but it definitely has a little more depth than that.
Typically, each of your party members has access to a number of skills that helps you take down enemies more efficiently. Each character also has a specific weapon proficiency, which are strong against certain enemies. Knowing when to switch between characters is key to winning some of the harder battles in the game. Besides that, exploration in the game is very similar to Metroidvanias, where certain areas require you to return with a specific skill or item.
In terms of the games that we would recommend for you to play, a few modern highlights include Ys Origins, Ys Seven, and definitely Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana. Ys Origin is a prequel to the entire series and is a great way to be introduced to the world of Ys. Ys Seven saw the beginning of the modern Ys hack-and-slash game style, and Ys VIII is the total refinement of the series’ mechanics and game loop.
Ys IX looks to up the ante even further with new ways for players to explore the world around them while keeping the fast-paced gameplay that the series is known for. If you want a rundown of each game in the series, YouTuber Aboveup does a great job of breaking down what makes each game fun and unique.
For a while, the Ys series did shine on its own and was seen as the entry point for JRPGs and an alternative to turn-based mechanics. Ultimately, it was relegated to the B-tier of JRPGs, along with Gust Corporation’s Atelier series or the cult-classic Wild Arms series. Maybe the name Ys was just not as marketable or memorable to its target audience, especially if they prefer playing games with more memorable titles like The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Dragon Quest.
The fact that the series still continues today is pretty remarkable, since the Nihon Falcom team did suffer some setbacks, with staff members exiting the company right at the start of the millenium and an overall mishandling of the Ys franchise. Luckily for us, the company has gotten back on their feet and we can now enjoy Ys in the best way possible.