In 2015, the action JRPG Nights of Azure released to some mixed reviews. Fortunately, this didn’t stop the series because the sequel Nights of Azure 2: Bride of a New Moon has been released, and it has improved on the issues previously seen.
Nights of Azure 2: Bride of a New Moon tells the story of Aluche, a soldier who is tasked with protecting her friend and priestess, Liliana. After being attacked, Aluche was revived as a half demon, giving her some unique talents, and flaws. She gains the ability to get stronger through the blood of fiends, but this has given her vampire tendencies which make her want to drink blood, among other quirks.
If you haven’t played the first game, that’s not something to be worried about. Like myself you should be able to pick it up and run with it as its story is sufficiently self-contained to make a wacky plot that is easy to follow.
Though easy to follow, it does get weird. Weird due to the element to the story, and gameplay, which is the fact that the world is close to coming to an end thanks to the Moon which is waning. When the moon disappears, the world will end, and this is implemented in one of the most frustrating but genius elements of the game.
Every time you leave the hotel that operates as the games hub, the moon wanes some more. This is crucial as it means you can end the world. Fortunately, the game does let you restart the chapter at any time, which means you can have another take at getting to the end, without destroying the world. Unfortunately, you don’t get many swings at it, and your time in the world is limited.
When you leave the hotel, there is a timer, and when time runs out, you return to the hotel, with a piece of the moon disappearing of course. The moon waxes every time you beat a hard fiend which means you get more time, and this is generally accomplished using the story missions. As you start the game you have 10 minute windows in the world, with varying amounts of spare time to complete them, but these times disappear much faster in stages with those fiends, as it can be easy to spend too long fighting them. Though these times do get extended with skills, it is not by that much.
Fortunately, the gameplay itself is fun, and chaotic. Like most Action JRPGs it generally involves hacking and slashing your way through enemies. You are assisted by the allies made throughout the game, picking one before you head out. This brings in a big part of the action, with shared attacks. These get prompt throughout battles based off things like double attacks occurring. This makes the battles unique and worth varying to find who fits your play style best.
As well as choosing your ally to take with you, you also get to choose from the Servans you have found. Servans are fiends that have had a connection with Aluche and join her. Like allies, the Sevans get better as you use them, but they get better through levelling up between session in the world, like Aluche.
With these elements, the game does differentiate itself enough from others in the genre. The games aesthetic is interesting, with the world looking dark, but uninteresting at the best of times. This is different to the characters and Servans which does an interesting job of not being a fantastic looking game, but instead is above average for its peers. A lot of great JRPGs have an OK looking style, and people familiar with NIS games will know what I mean, but Nights of Azure 2, looks better than most.
The game’s biggest drawback, which also makes it unique-ish, is the time in the world. There are timers that add an interesting element of fear of screwing up, but even that doesn’t make up for when you fail. If you must reload a chapter when you are an hour or more in, and replaying the whole chapter can feel brutal. How much this bugs you will depend on your ability to replay games, because you may have to replay a lot.
Nights of Azure 2 is a great action JRPG, that I thoroughly enjoyed my time with. Its weird story, and fun gameplay is a blast to run through, and unlike most other HRPGs, it’s not that much of a time sink. So even if you must replay chapters, you aren’t likely to be spending 40+ hours there in one playthrough.
Released: November 2017
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games