Although the team at Gust are known due to their involvement in the development of the Atelier and Ar Tonelico series, they have recently been trying to develop new IPs in different genres. The original Nights of Azure was Gust’s first attempt at this, and although it was not perfect, it was certainly an entertaining action-RPG title that managed to find an audience, especially in Japan. Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon builds upon the original title, while introducing some new and interesting mechanics.
Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon takes place several years after the original game and features a new protagonist called Aluche. As an agent of the Curia, Aluche is tasked with escorting the new “Bride of Time”, a girl who is chosen to be sacrificed to the Moon Queen in order to prevent her from plunging the world into eternal night. The new Bride of Time just happens to be Liliana, one Aluche’s childhood friends. Aluche is not pleased with the idea of her friend being the sacrifice, but before she has the time to think of some other alternative, Aluche and Liliana are attacked by the Moon Queen. Aluche tries her best to defeat the Moon Queen but ultimately dies after having her heart pierced by the Moon Queen, while Liliana goes missing. Aluche is then revived as an artificial half-demon by a scientist working for the Curia. With her new powers, Aluche is more determined than ever to find and protect Liliana, and defeat the Moon Queen.
Nights of Azure 2’s story focuses a lot on the fact that the main character (Aluche) and the sacrifice (Liliana) struggle with the fact they want to keep each other safe despite what they are destined to do. While Aluche wants to fight the Moon Queen herself and put an end to everything, Liliana fears that Aluche might die again and instead wants to be used as a sacrifice to protect her friend. However, unlike the previous game, Nights of Azure 2 features a large and diverse cast of characters, allowing the game to present a more fleshed out story while giving enough screentime to all characters.
Like I said before, Nights of Azure 2 is an action-RPG with typical fast paced hack-and-slash combat with some interesting gameplay mechanics. Just like in the original game, you have demon companions called “Servans” fight at your side in battle, each with their own abilities and traits. Certain Servans can temporarily transform into powerful weapons, such as spears and great-swords for Aluche to use in combat. In addition to their combat abilities, Servans can also be used to unlock new areas and shortcuts. However, due to the fact you can only bring up to two different Servans with you and you can’t switch Servans mid-mission, you will most likely only use Servans that only unlock new areas, especially with the time mechanics in the game (which I will explain in a bit).
In addition to Servans, the game also allows you to have one of the female characters you meet throughout the game fighting alongside you. By performing cooperative attacks with them the Double Chase gauge will start fill. When it’s full, both characters combine their powers to perform a devastating team attack. Each time you take your allies with you on missions you earn affinity points with them; when you have accumulated enough affinity points, side-missions with these characters will be unlocked. These side-missions not only add some really interesting stories about the characters, but will also level up your affinity with them, which in turn unlocks new skills and abilities.
The Hotel Eterna in the Ruined City of Eurulm acts as the game’s hub area. Here you can change your equipment and party, buy new equipment and items, accept sidequests, watch several events unfold and more. It’s here also where you can use the blue blood collected from defeating monsters to level up Aluche. Each time Aluche levels up, you earn ability points that you can use to learn new abilities that increase your stats. Servans also level up here, but instead of blue blood, Servans use Servan points, which are obtained as reward for completing quests.
Despite all the sidequests and other optional content that the game has to offer, Nights of Azure 2 features some time limit mechanics that forces players to manage their time carefully. For starters, when you leave the Hotel you can only stay outside a maximum of ten minutes (you can increase this time limit as you level up) before being teleported automatically back to the Hotel, even if you are in the middle of a boss battle.
The time limit while exploring wouldn’t be much of an issue if you had as many nights as you want, however, the game also has a limit on the number of nights you have available. At the beginning of the game, an Azure moon appears in the sky. As each day passes, the moon gradually wanes, and if the moon reaches the new moon phase and is no longer visible, the world will be engulfed in darkness and you receive a game over. The only way to prevent this is to complete all the story missions in a chapter, which usually end with a boss battle. Doing so will reverse the lunar eclipse’s progress and you gain more days to complete the following chapter. If you just want to complete the campaign, the games gives you more than enough time to complete every story quest, however, the same can’t be said about side-story missions with other characters. Even if you manage your time perfectly, you won’t have enough time to gain enough affinity points with all characters to unlock all side-missions, leaving New Game Plus as the only option if you want experience every character arc.
The game’s overall presentation is probably its weakest aspect. Although the artstyle and character design are great, the environments feel bland and empty, not to mention they also lack detail. The game also suffers from framerate issues, with framerate drops happening often in pretty much every battle situation. Even the soundtrack is a bit hit or miss with a few good tracks here and there, but nothing overall impressive.
Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon is an enjoyable experience that improves on a few aspects in comparison to the original title, but it also introduces unnecessary mechanics that just drag down the experience. The game features a fun combat system, an interesting story and cast of characters, however, the time mechanics don’t allow you to play the game at your own pace, making the game less enjoyable. Despite its flaws, Nights of Azure 2 is a game that JRPG fans will enjoy, and fans on the original game shouldn’t miss.Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon was reviewed using a PS4 Digital Copy provided by Koei Tecmo. You can find additional information about Gaming Union's ethics policy here.
|Fun combat system.|
|Entertaining story with a great cast of characters.|
|Beautiful art style.|
|Time mechanics seem unnecessary and hinder the experience.|
|Bland, empty environments.|