I have not played the first Nights of Azure game, so I can’t compare the sequel to the original; however, I have seen the trailer for Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon, and based on what I saw, I wanted to play it since it looked like an exceptional RPG. As an RPG fan, I thought the trailer looked amazing, and I really wanted to dive into this epic RPG’s story (even looking past the beautiful designs of the busty female cast of the main character’s party). Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon is developed by Gust Co. Ltd, who have brought us other well-known RPGs, such as their Atelier and Ar Tonelico series.
Even though I haven’t played the first game, the wiki says that it’s unnecessary, and I agree because this game provides enough backstory for the player to get a good idea of what’s going on, so playing the first installment is not required. Nights of Azure takes place in an alternate-history 19th century where a lord of demons was slain, showering the world in blue blood, and everything this blood touched turned into a Fiend. Humans, animals, even inanimate objects became crazed demonic creatures that stalk the night. Curia, a church that works to gather and purge this ‘blue blood’, uses a combination of its ‘agents’ or ‘Holy Knights’ to do battle with the Fiends and its priests and priestesses who are able to purify the blood that the knights gather. The Curia also periodically sacrifices a priestess known as the Bride of Time in order to seal away the Moon Queen for a set amount of time.
The player takes control of the protagonist Aluche, one of the Curia’s Holy Knights, who gets orders to escort the current priestess to the Curia’s headquarters; however, she gets conflicted when she finds out that the Bride of Time is her childhood friend, Liliana, and while it’s initially a joyous reunion, that joy is sadly short-lived. Liliana has been chosen as a sacrifice to seal away the Moon Queen. The idea of sacrificing a friend is not a particularly pleasant one, but before Aluche and Liliana get much time to talk things over, their entourage is attacked. Aluche is slain in battle by the Moon Queen herself, and later she is resurrected as a half-demon hybrid by the Curia’s doctor. Sadly, by the time she awakens, Liliana has long since vanished, and it’s up to Aluche to find her and come up with an alternative way of defeating the Moon Queen.
The gameplay is great and plays like any other hack and slash or beat’em up RPG. Although at first you only get 10 minutes to complete each event, leveling yourself up gains you more time, and you can also learn certain new skills on a branching skill tree that can help you further. However, you only have so many days in the field to complete your major story quests, because once the lunar cycle hits “new moon,” it’s game over, and you’ll have to restart from the beginning of the story chapter – which the player can also do at any time they want if things are going south. That’s not all though, there are also side quests that you could complete if you want the rewards, so it also takes more time if you are trying to complete all of them before the next chapter because they don’t transfer over to the next chapter if you miss them.
The controls are a bit annoying at times since the game wants you to first confirm everything you interact with using the “O” button. Otherwise, the controls are okay. Combat is of the hack and slash variety and is fast paced and fun. The player uses a combination of light and heavy attacks to perform combos and can bring along one ally (also known as a Lilly) to provide support and perform special joint attacks. Each character has their own beautiful animations and behaves differently with two different special attacks. The first special attack is the Double Chase, which charges up as you and your accompanying partner attack enemies. However, the opportunity to use the Double Chase occurs at random times when the ‘O’ icon pops up on the screen briefly, so you have to time it just right. Setting your allies to “Focus” is the ideal choice so they’re always attacking Fiends you are locked onto. Then there is the Lily Burst. Ultimate attacks with your Lily are activated by filling the Tension Gauge under your SP meter. When activated, a circle indicating the effect will appear, and enemies within will automatically be targeted. Depending on the Lilly, the area of effect and number of enemies will differ. Now, there is one downside to using the special attacks, and that is that the accompanying cutscenes can’t be skipped, and they take up precious time.
Other assistants known as Servans can be brought along as well, as they can be found hidden throughout the levels, and they join your party in groups of two. While some Servans can transform into new weapons for Aluche to use, the most useful ones are those who can interact with blocked off areas. Some hidden locations are walled off and require a specific Servan in order to be opened up. Given the constant time limit, it’s best to bring along these Servans so you maximize the time available to you. You’ll be returning to areas very often though, so it’s not that big a deal if you forget to bring them along now and then, even though most of these hidden locations that are walled off lead to useful items.
The character designs, visuals and the animations look beautiful, and this is where the game shines. The backgrounds are okay, and I say “okay” because with the number of times one visits the same areas, they can lose their appeal. At times the frame-rate drops when there are lots of enemies onscreen, and this is extra troublesome if you are trying to exit an area. Once when I was trying to avoid a large group of Fiend enemies and wanted to go to the next area, I encountered an error screen and had to reset my system. Bride of the New Moon does have its good points though, like its interesting story, beautiful character designs, animated scenes and visuals, plus its many side quests are fun, and the combat is easy to get into.
Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon is a good game overall. If you can look past its flash, this is still a fantastic game with a good story, characters, and amazing graphics. I had lots of fun playing it, and if you are looking for a good new hack and slash/beat’em up RPG, then this is a great pick up, especially since it is also available on the Nintendo Switch. I would still suggest perhaps waiting for a price drop if you’re a more casual fan of RPGs, but the Limited Edition is nice if you like extra goodies.
Developer: Gust Co. Ltd
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Platforms: PS4, Vita, Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date: 24th October 2017