This page assumes you have played every Ys game up to this point, thus there will be spoilers for those games. You Have Been Warned.
When I have a dream like that, it makes me wonder.
Am I really me? Perhaps such a dream is my reality. And my reality is the dream.
I discovered the answer during my adventures in Balduq. And the answer was astoundingly simple.
They are both equal truths.
What is real - is defined by what is not.
Who one is - is defined by who one isn't.
One must accept these truths, if they wish to live, and learn, and grow.
It was in this prison - this cradle -
where my dreams and my reality became intertwined."
An excerpt from "Balduq Prison"
Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is the tenth primary installment of the Ys franchise, developed and published by Falcom. Originally released on September 26, 2019 in Japan for the PlayStation 4, it launched internationally for the same platform on February 2, 2021, published by NIS America, while the PC, Nintendo Switch and Google Stadia got their versions on July 6, 2021. Taking place after Ys SEVEN, Ys IX is set in the Prison City of Balduq, a major city located in the Gllia-Erdlingen region, which is a Romun province located on the northeast Esterior peninsula on the continent of Eresia. The main focus of the game surrounds the titular Monstrums, a group of people possessing supernatural abilities.
When series protagonist Adol Christin arrives at Balduq along with his traveling companion Dogi, he is apprehended by soldiers of the Romun Empire and thrown into prison for his actions from previous adventures. While escaping from the prison, he encounters a mysterious woman named Aprilis, who proceeds to grant him the ability to transform into a Monstrum. With his newfound identity as the Monstrum "Crimson King", Adol gets swept up in a plot that involves investigating the unrest behind Balduq and unknown entities behind the "Grimwald Nox".
Continuing the party-based game-play from Ys SEVEN, Ys: Memories of Celceta and Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, Ys IX features a full three-dimensional world where players are encouraged to explore every nook and cranny of Balduq. Combat remains largely the same with returning mechanics such as "Flash Guard", "Flash Move" and "Break", but the biggest change is the introduction of special Monstrum powers called "Gifts" which can be used for combat and exploration, on top of abilities that players already had access to in previous games. As Monstrums are tasked with protecting Balduq from demons called Lemures, players will occasionally participate in Grimwald Nox, which is nearly identical to Beast Raids from Ys VIII with Tower Defense elements. Also, since investigating Balduq is one of the goals of the game, Adol will form a guild and performs various jobs in exchange for information, gaining allies in the process, who serve similar purposes as the castaways from Ys VIII did.
Tropes applicable to Ys IX: Monstrum Nox include:
- Ability Required to Proceed: In each chapter where a Monstrum joins Adol's party, it's impossible to progress through the story-based dungeon without using his or her respective Gift. Later dungeons require use of multiple Gifts to proceed.
- Action Girl: Aprilis and all three of the playable females; Downplayed with Iris, who tries to assassinate the stand-in governor-general when Cardinal Lindheim is missing, but is hesitant about killing him.
- Alchemy Is Magic: As Ys V: Lost Kefin, Kingdom of Sand establishes, alchemy can be used to temper metals that goes beyond simple blacksmithing. However, Zola has found a way to create alchemic clones of the living, bringing their memories and thoughts to life.
- And Now for Someone Completely Different: Every now and then, control of the game shifts from Adol and the Monstrums to another "Adol", who is still trapped in Balduq Prison.
- Anti-Frustration Features:
- Rather than have Double Jump relegated as a "Sacramental" (items granting passive abilities that requires equipping in the menu), Ys IX gives this mechanic to Adol and his party by default once he becomes the Crimson King, ensuring Double Jump won't take up a Sacramental slot in the game. Contrast this with Ys VIII, which required the "Archaeopteryx Wing" to perform this maneuver.
- Prior to Ys IX, the only way to acquire SP for skills is by attacking enemies, but this game automatically regenerates SP to maximum if players don't attack. As SP costs for skills have increased, this is helpful for players who struggle with Flash Guard and Flash Move and prefer to stay away from enemies.
- Silhouette, one of the associates at the Dandelion bar, acts as this with regards to general shopping: by finding new vendors around Balduq, she will register their respective non-crafting, non-present goods for sale at the Dandelion without needing players to remember which shop sells what items.
- Back in Ys VIII, the ability to equip an accessory that changes the attack attributes of piercing, slashing and striking for a party member was only available upon beating the Former Sanctuary Crypt. Ys IX unlocks these accessories for purchase once the fourth Monstrum is recruited into Adol's party on the first play-through.
- Using a Monstrum's gift only requires them to have joined the party, not for them to actually be in the party at that moment.
- Anti-Grinding: In addition to the usual diminishing-returns algorithm Falcom uses on Experience Points, better equipment will only become available as players advance into new story chapters.
- Bag of Spilling: Adol lampshades how often he conveniently loses the legendary weapons he obtained from his last adventure and even knows hes inevitably going to lose the new legendary weapon he obtained in Balduq.
- Bonus Boss: Vakh Medios, the Lord of all Lemures is this — a level 95 Marathon Boss that can only be accessed by achieving all S-ranks in Grimwald Nox events. Defeating it nets an achievement and the "Crown of Dawning" accessory that adds all three attack attributes of piercing, slashing and striking, while absorbing 6% of damage dealt to enemies.
- Broken Bridge: Certain areas of Balduq are unavailable until Adol and his party complete Sidequests and defeat enough Lemures to fill the NOX Gauge to 100 points, thereby activating a miasma vortex that leads to a Grimwald Nox event. Completing it will unlock that new area for exploration.
- The Cameo:
- By completing Marguerite's Azure Petals Sidequest, various souls briefly possess her so they can speak a short message to Adol. These souls return at the climax of the game to help Adol put an end to the Grimwald Nox for good, none other than Feena, Reah and Dark Fact from Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished - Omen, Eldeel from Memories of Celceta, Tia from Ys SEVEN and Dana Iclucia from Ys VIII.
- In one of the illustrations regarding Credo during the end credits, Geis from Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim and Ys SEVEN can be seen from the group of mercenaries.
- Can't Drop the Hero: Averted like previous Ys games with the party system - Adol does not need to be part of the active party.
- Cardboard Prison: Despite its infamy as the largest prison in the Romun Empire, lots of people escape from Balduq Prison throughout the game. To be fair, most of the escapees are the result of the Monstrums repeatedly breaking into the prison rather than the prison guards being unable to keep prisoners in their cell. Despite repeated success by the Monstrums, the guards don't bother closing off all the underground passages leading into the prison.
- Cartography Sidequest: Like Memories of Celceta and Ys VIII, Adol can report this to Parks; filling up the map at 10% intervals will reward players with accessories or items.
- Guide Dang It!: Some of the areas to be mapped are small hidden rooms that can only be accessed by Monstrum Gifts (secret passages openable by Doll, weak walls breakable by Raging Bull, small passages accessible by Renegade), which don't show up on the map as doors until you find them.
- Clark Kenting: After breaking out of Balduq Prison, Adol simply dyes his hair black and wearing an oversized red scarf to avoid drawing attention to himself. Given that he'd only met a handful of people before getting locked up and meeting them briefly, it works.
- City of Adventure: Much of the game takes place within Balduq as Adol and other Monstrums fight off Lemures from Grimwald Nox, as well as run into various mysterious events that take place there.
- Closed Circle: All Monstrums cannot leave Balduq as they are forced to appear whenever Aprilis summons them to battle Lemures from Grimwald Nox.
- Continuity Cavalcade: After defeating the Final Boss, the six souls resonating from Adol's memories are none other than Feena, Reah, Dark Fact, Eldeel, Tia and Dana, all of whom were central characters from previous Ys installments.
- Continuity Nod:
- The entire plot is kickstarted by Romum officials arresting Adol for interfering/foiling with their plans throughout the series. In particular, the events of Ys VI, Ys SEVEN and Ys VIII are brought up by Warden Belger during Adol's arrest.
- While interrogating Adol, Ingrid mentions several events that frequently happen to Adol during his adventures, such as his bad luck with boats and the tendency to lose all equipment between games, asking Adol if he is doing them on purpose.
- Per Legacy Boss Battle, there are several returning monsters from previous games, which Adol can point out in his dialogue options.
- General Leo, one of the supporting characters from Memories of Celceta, is mentioned to be the one responsible for capturing the city of Balduq during the "Erdlingen War" between the Kingdom of Gllia and the Romun Empire which occurred eight years before Ys IX.
- In Chapter 3, "The Feral Hawk's Fury", upon heading to Balduq's amphitheater, there's a juggler on the stage. Krysha will ask if Adol's ever seen one and players can choose the dialogue option "On a deserted island", referencing Ys VIII party member Hummel Trabaldo.
- The gift for Dogi is an apple from Esteria, the setting of the first game where Adol and Dogi met each other for the first time. Similarly, the gift for Jule is a book about the Five Dragons of Altago, a key plot point of Ys SEVEN.
- After receiving this game's Infinity +1 Sword for Adol, the "Tír na nÓg", players can choose a dialogue option where he monologues to himself, "(I'm going to lose this too one day, aren't I?)", alluding to the fact that he suffers Bag of Spilling between his adventures.
- In Chapter 8, "Thus Spoke The Alchemist", when Chatelard talks about alchemy and its origin, which is central to the main plot of this game, the character will refer to it as something that Adol previously encountered in Xandria, the setting of Ys V.
- Conveniently an Orphan: All Monstrums except Adol and Doll are this; Justified when they are actually clones of Rosvita's allies from the Hundred Years' War five centuries ago, meaning they never had real parents to begin with.
- Costume Copycat: During Chapter 4, "The Doll's Search", a trio of thieves named Gordo, Pak and Toto start masquerading as Hawk, White Cat and Doll, respectively, stealing from Balduq civilians. Despite their disguises clearly working against them (Gordo is a Gonk, while Pak and Toto are crossdressing), as well as wanted posters of the Monstrum already posted onto display boards, it's enough for townspeople to think the trio are the genuine article.
- Cute Monster Girl: White Cat and Raging Bull count as this since White Cat is a Cat Girl and Raging Bull is a literal cow-girl.
- Cutlery Escape Aid: The first breakout in the game is made through a fork bent into a lockpick.
- Decoy Protagonist: The game begins with Adol escaping from Balduq prison, and being conscripted into the Monstrums with the new identity Crimson King. Two chapters we later we find out there is another Adol who is still imprisoned. This other Adol is playable in a few short sequences and sidequests. Only towards the end do we learn that the other Adol is the real deal while the Crimson King we've spent most of the game with is a newly-created homonculus. The two Adols reconcile in the final chapter and then fuse into one person.
- Didn't Think This Through: Zola's plan to create a super-homunculus to end the Grimwald Nox once and for all is sound on paper, except he doesn't consider precisely how the latter would do so. Atra takes it to the logical conclusion that since Balduq and its people are the very cause of the Nox, the city and its citizens must be destroyed.
- Disappears into Light: When a homunculus dies, it perishes in this manner.
- Foreshadowing: In the Sidequest "Inscription Inspection", the stone fragments speaks of an "egg" that the Nors gods sent to man in ancient times to house their "Impurity" that arose from their suffering due to war, disease and poverty. This metaphorical egg would be the Egg of Draupnir that Adol destroys to end the Grimwald Nox forever.
- Fusion Dance: The Crimson King and the real Adol do this after Chapter 8, as the former's lifespan is running out because of his homunculus nature. By the epilogue, Krysha, Credo, Yufa and Jules have merged off-screen with their original bodies.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: Played with - despite being wanted for various reasons, the Monstrums can transform and use their Gifts right in front of townspeople and guards without any repercussion during game-play, though the citizens will audibly state their recognition of a Monstrum when possible.
- Giant Spider: "Tarantiels" are aggressive spiders that are several times larger than a human in the game, with bright blue eyes and equally blue spots on their carapace. A particularly large one, "Regirania", serves as a boss in Chapter 4.
- Good-Guy Bar: The Dandelion, a bar that serves as the headquarters for the Monstrums. Originally, it was just an abandoned building repurposed into a pub to avert suspicion but over the course of the game it becomes a legitimate thriving business filled with customers and others needing hiding.
- Götterdämmerung: All, but spelled out for the Nors gods as a result of the Hundred Years' War, which was nothing more than a Proxy War between Grimnir, who blessed the Gllians, and Luki, who bequeathed the Britans with his. Both gods, including what's implied to be the rest of their pantheon and demigod warriors, would perish in the conflict.
- The Great Offscreen War: The Hundred Years' War between Britai and Gllia five hundred years before Ys IX and the more recent Erdlingen War between the Romun Empire and Kingdom of Gllia eight years ago, both of which form the crux of the villains' motivations in the game.
- The Greatest Story Never Told: The Grimwald Nox is an obscure part of the dead Nors religion that faded into mythology centuries ago. As such, the general public has no knowledge that the Monstrums are protecting Balduq from it.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: Balduq Prison guards don't seem to care much about what the real Adol gets up to so long as the character returns to their cell whenever there's a scheduled patrol in the cell block. Upon getting into the Special Sector, everyone assumes that they're someone entitled to be there and free to walk around rather than a prisoner from another section who broke in, despite being in dressed in clothes far too poor for the upper-class inmates of the Special Sector.
- Hammerspace: All Monstrums and Chatelard simply pull or sheath their respective weapons from nowhere.
- The Heartless: Lemures are the Anthromorphic Personification of negative enmity by the Gllians that arose since the Hundred Years' War between Gllia and Britai, which is further accentuated by the Romun Empire's victory from the Erdlingen War and their annexation of Gllia eight years ago upon conquering the Kingdom of Gllia, including their present day occupation of Balduq.
- Hybrid Monster: The Bonus Boss, Vakh Medios, is an amalgam of the many Lemures encountered during Grimwald Nox events throughout the game.
- Impossibly Cool Clothes: The clothes that Monstrums wear in general look more like fancy ballroom gowns rather than practical battle gear.
- Infinity +1 Sword: The party can find "Ancient Blueprints" for the best armor and weapons in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, which Tito can use to craft them.
- Jeanne d'Archétype: Rosvita, a Gllian farmer from a common family, upon hearing a mandate from a deity, participated in the The Hundred Years War five centuries ago against the Britai. Her victories would earn her the title of "Saint" and the Gllians wind up winning. Unfortunately, the Gllian royal family ostracized her very existence, and through a conspiracy, Saint Rosvita was captured by the Britai and burned at the stake.
- "Just Frame" Bonus: Ys IX retains Flash Guard and Flash Move from prior games with no penalties to their mechanics; like Ys VIII, their durations are fully displayed upon activation.
- Lampshade Hanging: At the beginning of the game, Adol's interrogator Ingrid remarks about how he has seen more shipwrecks then most seamen see in their life. Most games in the franchise have started with Adol being involved in a shipwreck.
- Legacy Boss Battle: Nygtilger and Vagullion from Ys and the Avalodragil and other Primordials from Ys VIII show up as bosses and regular enemies. Justified when they are re-created from Adol's memories.
- Luxury Prison Suite: The "Special Sector" of Balduq Prison is essentially a five-star hotel that wealthy and powerful criminals are "imprisoned" in for a fee, making their sentences a luxury vacation, while the heat from their crimes cools off rather than become a punishment.
- The Magic Goes Away: The destruction of the Egg of Draupnir causes the permanent end to the Grimwald Nox, resulting in the Monstrums losing their curse and Gifts.
- Mythology Gag: In a subtle easy-to-miss moment, during the in-game track Eyes On..., after Adol destroys the Egg of Draupnir, the Leitmotif for Feena can be briefly heard.
- Old Save Bonus: Ys IX on the PlayStation 4 will award two bonus accesories if it detects a save file from Memories of Celceta and Ys VIII - the former features "Celcetan Wreath"note , the latter gives the "Old Seal Ring"note .
- One-Winged Angel: Chatelard and Atra go through this using the power of alchemy.
- Our Homunculi Are Different: Homunculi are biological clones of the living created through alchemy by using a subject's memories and are practically identical to their original source. However, homunculi created as an infant has a higher chance at surviving long-term than a homunculus created when its origin is older, something the Crimson King painfully discovers during the story's intervals. Notably, homunculi aren't unique to Ys IX as the franchise has already established they exist when members of the Clan of Darkness uses them as Fairy Companions.
- Permanently Missable Content:
- The majority of quests will be cancelled if not completed in their respective chapters, though completing quests is the fastest and intended means of filling the Nox gauge. One easily missed quest in Chapter 8 is found in the Woodlands of Woe and requires 200 Nox to unlock. It can't be accomplished later.
- Older weapon and armour-sets will disappear from the stores over time. However unlike the previous game there are no completion-metrics tied to finding every piece of equipment, and all gear gets out-classed by the legendary equipment anyway.
- Player Headquarters: The Dandelion serves as the home base for Adol and his friends. As the game progresses they can find various allies who fulfill various purposes, including one who will do Adol's shopping for him.
- Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: The party's Infinity Minus One Swords and Infinity Plus One Swords are mostly named after Norse Mythology and Celtic Mythology, respectively.
- Schrödinger's Butterfly: Discussed in the opening quote of the game - according to Adol's journals, thanks to his experiences as both prisoner of Balduq and from the memories of the Crimson King post-Fusion Dance, he decides that the answer to the question is "Yes".
- Seen It All: When Doll asks Adol about not reacting in shock that she's not human, considering he's seen quite a lot over his journey, such as meeting the Eldeen, encountering thought-to-be extinct Primordials and conversing with Earth Goddess Maia in Ys VIII, an Artificial Human like Doll is an Understatement.
- Sequel Hook: At the end of the game, Dogi asks Adol where shall they go for their next adventure - Garman or Britai.
- The achievement for walking 300 krimelye is "I Would Walk 300 Krimelye", while acquiring and recording all items for the materials section of the journal is "Material Girl".
- One of the translated graffiti in Balduq reads "Abandon all hopes and dreams, ye who know what's good for you."
- The name of the Sidequest called "A Legend of Heroes" is an obvious reference to Falcom Eastern RPG series The Legend Of Heroes.
- Chapter 8 is named Thus Spoke the Alchemist in reference to the famous Also sprach Zarathustra, a.k.a Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
- During Chapter 8, in a conversation between where Yufa hands Silhouette a potato, she ends up mashing it due to her strength. Silhouette says they're "...versatile that way! Boil them, mash them, stick them in a stew..."
- When speaking with Adol's allies in the epilogue, if players choose the dialogue option about him not minding the mask that Silhouette wears, she'll say that no one even cared who she was until she put on the mask.
- Tomato in the Mirror: Two examples:
- The Adol still incarcerated in Balduq Prison is the real deal. The Adol players control for the majority of the game, the Crimson King, is a homunculus created by Zola's alchemy.
- Not only is the Crimson King an alchemic clone of the real Adol, but the rest of the Monstrums (except Doll) are clones of the historical allies of Saint Rosvita from 500 years ago. Even Chatelard is one, as the real Chatelard had died defending Balduq in the Erdlingen War eight years prior to Ys IX.
- Toxic, Inc.: The Pendleton Company's mines spew their pollution into the shantytown, oppressing the poor residents, mostly native Gllians, who live there.
- Unexpected Gameplay Change: In the segments where players control "Adol" who is still trapped in Balduq Prison, Double Jump, attack skills, Gifts and Sacramentals are locked out for use. The focus of game-play changes to avoiding traps and solving puzzles.
- Was Once a Man: A late-game Sidequest reveals this is the case for Xavier. Similarly, the chimeras that serve as guardians of The Very Definitely Final Dungeon are also this.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Chatelard wishes to free Gllia from Romun occupation. Unfortunately, he goes about it by making clones of extraordinary people across Eresia in order to raise an army. The same applies to Zola, whose alchemic experiments are meant to bring the threat of the Grimwald Nox under control, but having done so for 500 years has turned him full-on Mad Scientist, ultimately creating a godlike entity from Adol's memories to do away the Nox entirely, but without giving much thought into how this homunculus will go about do so.
- Wham Episode
- The end of Chapter 2, "The White Cat's Melancholy": the story's perspective switches from Adol to "Adol", who's still locked up in Balduq Prison, despite the former already having escaped in the previous chapter. This is the first sign that nothing in Ys IX is what it appears to be.
- Chapter 7, "Capriccio of the Prison", has a boatload of wham: Marius betrays the real Adol just before he can reunite with Dogi outside of the Dandelion, Chatelard wants to raise an army to liberate Gllia from Romun occupation and he kills Aprilis, stating You Have Outlived Your Usefulness in front of the Monstrums. Furthermore, Anemona has regained most of her memories - that she was Saint Rosvita's doll - and the Hieroglyph Knights are starting their coup d'etat by seizing the governor-general's office in Balduq, as well as unlawfully throwing Balduq citizens into prison.
- Everything comes to a head for Chapter 8: Chatelard reveals the Crimson King is a homunculus, as is the rest of the Monstrums except Doll, who served Saint Rosvita in The Hundred Years' War. Chatelard wants to use alchemy for an army of homunculi out of the captured citizens to take back Gllia from Romun. When he is defeated, Chatelard's body crumbles, as he himself is a homunculus of the posthumous Chatelard who died in the Erdlingen War. Zola also makes his appearance, whom Anemona recognizes as her alchemic creator. Finally, Aprilis is still alive as a homunculus and the Crimson King merges with the real Adol to preserve the former's memories and soul.
- Wham Shot: The boss at the end of Chapter 5, "The Raging Bull's Treasure", is none other than an Avalodragil. Those who've played Ys VIII would know that's not possible when Primordials no longer exist due to the canon Golden Ending of that game, further deepening the mystery behind Balduq.
- You Are Number 6: Prisoners in the primary cell blocks of Balduq Prison don't have names, just numbers. Adol's is "217".