The Dawn of Ys is one of two games released under the title of Ys IV, the other being Tonkin House's Ys IV: Mask of the Sun. The two games share the same basic story, but have many differences regarding concrete events, locations, gameplay details, etc. The events of the game take place a short while after those described in Ys II, and before the events of Ys III: Wanderers from Ys.
As the game begins, Adol and his friend return to the town of Minea, where the first game began. The evil Lord Darm has been defeated, and it's time to relax and spend some time with friends - but not for long. A new evil is rising, and Adol decides to set sail for the overseas land of Celceta to investigate these occurrences.
Ys IV returns to the style of play used in the first and second games. The gameplay area is viewed from a top-down perspective, and the player attacks enemies by running into them to cause damage. Combat is slightly more sophisticated than in the first two games, since Adol can now move in eight directions, and attacking enemies diagonally or from the sides is more efficient than bumping into them headstrong. Adol gains experience from defeating enemies, which serves to raise his attack and defense power, like in the previous games. He can equip various swords, armor, shields, and rings to enhance his attributes. The magic system introduced in Ys II is also brought back for this game.
Ys IV was originally intended to be a trilogy, mainly developed by the companies responsible for the console ports of Ys III. Tonkin House handled the SNES episode, Hudson handled the PC Engine episode, and Sega was supposed to make a Mega Drive (or MegaCD) episode. However, Sega cancelled their edition halfway through development, and therefore this console-only experiment ended up only half-finished.