A surprise patch has dropped for the PC version of the action RPG that many missed out on last year, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox, which makes now would be a perfect time to get acquainted with the series.
While working on the upcoming localization of Trails From Zero (another Falcom game you should keep your eyes on), PH3 developer Peter “Durante” Thoman discovered how to increase CPU performance in that game. The promising results in Trails From Zero led him to bring the technique over for Ys IX. It was amazing to see that there was a significant frame rate improvement with the same implementation. There were 25% more CPU bottlenecks in certain areas of the game. The update proved stable enough in testing to push it live for everyone playing the Steam version.
The complete patch notes are available for the PC Performance Patch:
- Improved CPU-bound performance. This will depend on your specific game scene and settings as well as the hardware GPU/CPU ratio.
- Adjust the refresh rate selection algorithm to more reliably pick the available refresh-rate closest to the one desired.
- The game executables are now signed. It should reduce false positives from antivirus that can sometimes be seen for certain players.
- The English item description for the Holy Sword’s Hilt accessory has been updated to accurately reflect its capabilities.
While you are reading these patch notes, this is the best time for you to read more about Ys. Maybe I can even convince you to try one.
Most Ys (pronounced like “geese” without the G) games follow an adventurer named Adol as he finds himself in all sorts of dangerous situations that he and the friends he makes along the way need to hack and slash their way out of heroically. Playing a handful of titles in this prolific series caused me to fall in love with it, and now I can’t help but sing its praises and wonder why they aren’t talked about more.
My introduction to Ys was Ys Origin, a 2006 PC game that’s now been updated and released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch. Origin takes place 700 years before the first Ys and tells the tale of your choice between Yunica or Hugo, who have different weapons and playstyles, as they climb The Devil’s Tower in search of twin Goddesses who have ditched their followers in the land of Ys. The gameplay is reminiscent of a mix of a fast-paced Zelda dungeon crawler with the camera in a fixed overhead perspective meets a dash of Castlevania exploration and progression. Moment-to-moment combat can be challenging. Boss fights expand on the tenants even further. If you like an old-school action game, Ys Origin is a good time and absolutely worth playing through with every character available.
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana came next, which joins series protagonists Adol and Dogi as they ride on a ship that crashes ashore on an uncharted island. Adol discovers he’s alive. He collects the survivors and they go exploring the island in search of a path home. Or, perhaps, to just survive a while longer. Ys VIII’s narrative is full of memorable characters, gripping mystery, and plenty of grand adventure as you explore the expansive island. You can also take over the story of Dana, a mysterious maiden. Unlike Origin, Ys VIII adopts a colorful anime art style and is set in a 3D world full of stunning locals to visit. Adol isn’t alone when he’s adventuring around the island and is joined on the field by two other castaways who you can switch between at any time to take advantage of the rock-paper-scissors quality of their weapons, so you can quickly dispatch creatures in the wild. It’s one of my favorite action games I’ve played in years and is available on PlayStation 4, Switch, PC, and PS Vita if you have one lying around.
After the events of Ys VIII, and Ys VI & VII which take place immediately after the island excursion, the adventures of Adol et Dogi continue with Ys IX : Monstrum nox. They meet a group of Monstrum, a group of criminals who have supernatural abilities and they join them in Balduq prison. These powers, which are also given to Adol, allow for new mobility options like gliding, teleporting, and running up walls to get around the larger open environments introduced in Ys IX. This is a continuation of the combat action found in Ys VIII. The Victorian town of Balduq offers a welcome change after long hours on a tropical Island and strikes a darker tone aesthetically as well as narratively. Once again, the characters are a draw to play Monstrum Nox, with each member of the Robin Hood-like Monstrum troop having complex backstories worth seeing through and a mystery inside the prison walls focusing on Adol himself that drives intrigue throughout. Monstrum Nox: Ys VIII is currently available on PlayStation 4 and Switch. A patch has been applied for 4K resolution (PS5).
You’re not doing your self a favor if you haven’t tried Ys yet. It deserves to be in consideration of the great action series of all time next to the big names like Zelda, Metroid, Castlevania, and Devil May Cry. I hope this little rant has turned some heads and convinced some of you to give one of these great games or one of the other 6+ titles in the series a fair shot the next time you’re looking for something to sink some time into. You’ll thank yourself if you are anything like me.
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