Ys X: Nordics is a brand-new adventure set in the northern sea Obelia Bay, featuring young adventurer Adol Christin as the protagonist. Please look forward to this latest title in the Ys series, from the development team that brought you Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana and Ys IX: Monstrum Nox.
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I accidentally sold almost all of my level up items on accident thinking I was buying more! I really don't speak Japanese, dammit!!!
Overall, loved the game though! It was refreshing to see them finally take on a new direction with the combat system. Plus, I love min-maxing orbments in the Trails series, so I was happy to see that they brought that! Ship control was janky at first, but I got used to it and the upgrades make things much better.
The ratio of gameplay to story is much better than the previous entry as well. It feels like there's a ton of side content to do, from quests, to optional islands, to the awesome raids, it really is a full-on adventure!
But in the end, neither my score or my review is final, as I couldn't fully grasp the story, nor had the patience to use DeepL enough to understand each piece of equipment. Even though I beat it 100% on Inferno difficulty, I will do it again when the localized version comes and give my final veredict!
(Also, this is my 300th backloggd game. Yay :D)
story was great all the way through, basically no complaints there. gameplay was also great and engaging, though while I liked the new combat I don't think it was as fun as the previous combat system. It also felt like half the mechanics weren't explained at all so it took until pretty late in the game for me to fully grasp how everything worked. i also actually kinda liked the ship combat in the end which i wasn't expecting as i really didn't like it at first - the upgrades def made it much more enjoyable. really my biggest gripe with this game though is the simple lack of variety - and this was a problem with 9 to an extent as well - most of the islands blended together and only a small handful have any real identity. in ys 8 discovering a new area was always exciting, whereas discovering a new island in 10 was moreso just hoping for something new. the enemy variety definitely exacerbates the issue as well; it really feels like there are only 20 unique enemies in the game and so when most of the islands are not only visually similar but littered with a majority of the same enemies or basic reskins of them, it becomes really hard for them to stand out. that all said though, it was all still a lot of fun to play and explore, and i still came out of it having had a fantastic experience. hoping whatever's next is even greater! 9/10
Playtime: 70h 5m, did everything.
Plot: Fine, better than IX. Not a fan of the pacing, felt like it took a while for me to get into it but I enjoyed how everything panned out. Not the biggest fan of the main crew but I like Karja and most of the side characters.
Gameplay: X contains the debut of the "Cross Action" system, a change from the Seven system that was used in 7/8/9. Rather than controlling a full party, it's just Adol and Karja. You can either control them individually or switch into the Combined mode which changes your moveset and lets you guard most moves. Weaving between solo and combination modes was fun and I'm looking forward to seeing how they develop it in the next game.
They also added a system like orbments from the Kiseki series but it doesn't really affect too much, would like to see them develop this more.
Music: Didn't love any of the battle themes but a lot of the zone and town themes are great. Doesn't have the overall quality of VIII and previous OSTs but it's better than IX for sure.
Exploration: I'm biased towards islands and coastal environments so I was a fan (anything is better than Balduq). Some of the zones are a too large and feel emptier as a result. Also, buried treasures are AWFUL. John Falcom, if you're reading this, never do that again. Controlling the boat during ocean exploration is painful, which leads to...
Naval Battles and Maneuvering: The worst part of the game. Controlling the boat is very clunky and simply not enjoyable. Thankfully I was able to S-rank all of them first try because having to redo any of them would be MISERABLE.
Overall, while it took a bit longer than usual to get into it, once the game hit its stride I had a pretty good time and am looking forward to XI.
Is it a great game or a mediocre game?
Hard to say, Compared to VIII and IX, Nordics has made a lot of good changes, but there are also many downgrades for me. Still I enjoy this game like VIII and IX and I highly recommend it if you also like Falcom game.
Now let's begin the review.
It is difficult not to compare X with VIII and IX in the review, because they basically belong to the same template.
Cut scenes and dialogues, land exploration, dungeon and boss fights, side quests and collecting missions, and garbage time scramble fights. These elements are present in each game, with different forms of expression but the essence is the same. People call it trails-ys, which means there are more story and RPG elements while less combat. Ys X is another Trails-Ys, it's obvious.
The best part of the game and the real fresh stuff that carries the whole game. I never thought the combat system of Ys would be complex, it's just rubbing the attack button and dodging or jumping at the appropriate time. But I did spend some time learning Ys X's combat system.
Unlike VIII and IX, in X, you can only use two characters: Adol and Karja. For me, this is a good change. Multiple but homogeneous characters in action games are meaningless. Falcom finally realizes it. Now breakdown every parts.
Actually guard mode. When pressing R2, a protective cover will be generated. It's very similar to the Royal Guard. If the timing is perfect, you can avoid attacks completely and gain a certain amount of revenge rate, the higher your risk rate the more damage your combine skill can cause. Even if it's half a beat slower, you won't get hurt most time. And when you perfectly block a red attack, it can stun the enemy, trigger a powerful counterattack or counter QTE, and fully recover the revenge rate. Combine guard can resist any attack (even roaring) except for the blue attack. So using combine mode all the time is the safest way to play. Few bosses can break your defenses and combine skill at a high revenge rate is extremely powerful.
I mentioned that the combine mode is the safest, but it is not the most effectivetive. In fact, the solo mode of Adol and Karja is the most powerful character you can use in the ys series. First, we need to retrospect the skill system. It first appeared in Ys seven, but at that time the SP obtain speed was slow and the normal attacks are still mainstream. The acquisition of SP in Ys IX is much faster, but you still cannot use high-damage skills casually. While in ys x, the SP of the two characters are separate, and when using one character, the SP recovery speed of another character is very high. So constantly switching between two characters can achieve sp freedom. In addition, using different skills can increase the chain number, and the higher the chain number, the lower the SP consumption. But this is not the most ridiculous yet, During the animation of releasing skills, you will receive significant damage reduction buffs, almost eliminating 90% of damage. That means you're virtually invincible during the uninterrupted release of skills.
Back to the skill itself. Thanks to the reduced number of characters, this time the number and quality of skills for both characters are great (Adol 29 skills, Karja 30 skills). The animations and effects for every skill are very cool and dynamic. And falcom has given real distinction to the skills. Some skills blow enemies away, some are downward smashes, some are upward picks, and some allow the character to shift. This enhances player-enemy interaction and allows for some crazy combos.
Mana Seed and Liberate Road
Very close to the orb system of trails series but much simpler. Different types of Mana Seeds provide different types of enhancements to characters. And the way they are connected affects the results. It certainly won't have as much impact as it did in the Trails series but it's the first time you can truly build a character in Ys series.
Some of the bosses are pretty well designed but some are annoying. What puzzles me is that there are a lot of plural boss fights this time. The experience is really bad because it's hard to watch the movements of two enemies at the same time.
Combat is not without its issues. Blue attacks are hard to dodge in melee and don't reward as much as blocking. Normal attacks and dodges feel much heavier than before. Mana outbreak is useless in combat.
I'm a little disappointed, to be honest. After playing Ys IX I'm actually looking forward to the further evolution of Ys level design. But Ys X is more of a step back, it's like Ys VIII cut into dozens of pieces. Each island is short to explore and full of invisible walls. Levels are mainly based on platform gameplay with Mana String and Mana Boards. It's ok but undoubtedly not as fun as the Monstrum ability. There are plenty of buried treasures but finding them is boring because Ys X's levels are nowhere near as three-dimensional as Ys IX's. Also, the overall number and size of dungeons are not as good as in the previous game. That said I think the level design is generally good, especially if you prefer linear levels. Some parts that remind me of Castlevania PoR, which is good.
It was really bad in the beginning. The ship was very clumsy and lacked firepower. Although upgrades can change all this the ship combats are still rough and stupid. Don't expect it and treat it as a mini-game then it's actually playable.
Story and character
I think the story is much more complete than IX, and Karja is portrayed quite well. The narrative is more traditional without much of a reversal. The writing is Falcom standard you know what I mean if you've played their games. If I had to rank them, I'd say VIII>X>IX.
It's complaining time. Falcom really needs more artists and modelers. Ys X has the same problem as IX. Every island and town looks exactly the same. The variety of textures and decorations is pitifully small and of poor quality. The scene at sea is even more horrible. It's really hard to attract more players. The OST is by far the worst Ys music I've ever heard outside of Ys V.
My final ranking is VIII>IX>X. But I still recommend everyone to try it and I also think X is a great entry point.
Island exploration is alright, most islands are pretty small and linear, but they use this to provide decent platforming challenges and traversal skills. If you're looking for exploration of Ys 8 or the verticality of Ys 9, you'll probably be disappointed, but the areas otherwise serve for good combat arenas. Biome variety is lacking for most of the game—I hope you like grassy plains—but does sort of get better later on. Somewhat.
Sea exploration itself is miserable at first, you move far too slowly and it feels like a chore trying to find islands. This gets better as you gain upgrades to make your ship move/turn/boost faster, but I wouldn't blame people dropping the game out of frustration before getting to that point. The ship combat itself is... a big miss, frankly, and never gets much better. It's super clunky and tedious, and the most fun you'll be getting is spamming a billion special cannon balls and watching everything go boom.
Visually I think this looks mostly fine. Doesn't look as good as Kuro for sure, and the lack of biome variety doesn't do it any favours, but it's serviceable and the characters look good. I would say it suffers from a distinct lack of 3D art style, but that applies to every modern Falcom game tbh.
Cast was fun, I probably liked them a bit more than 8's (aside from Dana who you can't really beat) but not as much as 9's. Karja is really awesome and a great partner for Adol this game, which they thankfully leave entirely platonic—love their bro bond. Side cast are fine, they have the arcs you'd expect if you've played 8/9, though I did find one character's a little rushed and weirdly handled. Plot characters that are too spoilery to talk about are all really good. Villains are alright, they feel like typical battle shonen villains and most do the job.
The story itself was pretty good—didn't like it as much as 8/9's, but I'd say it's one of the better Ys stories for sure. There is a lot of dialogue, more than I expected, which I don't mind but I could see more traditional Ys fans not being crazy on like Ys 9. I thought the finale and ending were really really good, and a highlight of the game.
There's a fun little secret right at the end that certainly makes me interested in the future of this series! I do hope the next entry takes place after 9 in the timeline, as while this game was more important to the series than I expected, I personally prefer older Adol and would like to see what's going on in Romn. Though an Ys V remake would work too.
Soundtrack is... eh. There are some highlights, such as the final boss and credits themes (second for both), a couple of island and town themes, but otherwise it's pretty forgettable. Par for the course with modern Falcom I suppose, but I honestly found it worse than the soundtracks of both Kuro games.
I think this review came off a bit more negative than I intended, but basically the core of this game is land gameplay and battles, which they really nail. There's also plenty of side content and NPC dialogue that you'd expect from a Falcom game, and it's all fairly high quality (some of those side quests go kinda crazy). It's no masterpiece, but it's one of Falcom's better games imo, and I think there's a lot to look forward to when it's localised. Turns out spending more than a year working on a game is pretty beneficial!