Koei Tecmo bring us another JRPG with Nights of Azure. This more action orientated Japanese Role Playing Game has been released on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. Having seen the trailers, I was not entirely sure what this particular one might have to offer.
The game follows a land where night is not a time of rest but rather a time or torment and endless battle. A long time ago a saint destroyed the Lord of Night but in his defeat, his blood rained down upon the land transforming all it touched into fiends that now roam the land each night providing sleepless nights and further tainting the remaining populace.
Working as a fiend hunter for a somewhat mysterious organization known as Curia, Arnice is sent to Rusewall Island to, unknowingly meet up with an old friend. Destiny, be that as it may, offers them both hard choices. Tainted but not consumed by the blue blood of demons, Arnice finds herself with unique powers and abilities. It is your job to use them to help reclaim the night.
Combat has two main aspects to it. The basic fighting moves include light, heavy and special attacks and these are your first line of offence. Performing these builds up a gauge that, when full, can summon a powerful demon form for Arnice. These, when activated, are quite fun to use though I did find myself always saving them for the usual boss fight at the end of the level. Arnice’s weapon eventually unlocks new forms as well that can be switched in battle any time.
The second main aspect is the ability to summon demon like creatures called Servans. As the game progresses you can call forth new Servans. Items called Fetishes can be collected and, at the end of a mission, need to be Actualised in order for new Servans to become available. Servans can play an attack or support role and you can summon up to four at a time. As you unlock more you can create decks that can be switched to, to possibly accommodate certain situations. Extra deck slots however need to be unlocked.
Both Arnice and her Servans level up to become stronger and learn new abilities. New Servans start at level one and so some grinding can be required to catch up the new Servan. Fetishes can also be used to make existing Servans stronger. It doesn’t increase strength by much but is a way to help the level gap with new Servans.
Items can also be equipped to give Arnice and her Servans an edge in battle. The item system isn’t terribly exciting as you easily earn and collect many of them but none are too interesting and there isn’t any tier system either. I would have liked to see an option to perhaps combine same items to create a stronger version of that item. Items are also available for purchase but there is nothing more special available from the shops and so I never bothered purchasing anything.
Nights of Azure tries to offer a variety of quests to do but they all end up being roughly the same thing. The main quests generally involve killing fiends to then fight a boss at the end. On occasion finding an item of some sort might be required. I realise I’m describing many games out there but this game made me acutely aware that I was repeating the same thing over.
The minor side quests don’t offer too much variation either as they generally follow the same formula and are always played out in the already unlocked areas. While obtaining new items to equip and gaining experience in the process can be fun, essentially grinding in small levels many times over just doesn’t do it for me.
The game sets up a base of operations. A special hotel is where you will spend your down time. Here you can do multiple things; organising and allocating items, participating in arena battles, recreating newly discovered Servans and deciding on quests. It is a quaint area but one does get a bit over the scenery.
Levels are a bit dull and while different lack detail and more distinguishable features. The graphics aren’t anything special but the anime art style is one I do enjoy. The sound track, while initially pleasant, did get repetitive after a while. The game is in Japanese but the subtitles aren’t too lengthy so this isn’t too much of an issue.
Nights of Azure is a fun game it just doesn’t exactly venture out to find new horizons but it does decent job of pulling together an unfortunately small amount of working mechanics to offer a playable game. There are some enjoyable mechanics on offer and a story that actually makes sense. There are just so many JRPGs and they are generally quite lengthy nature. While I cannot poke too many giant holes in the game, it is average in nature and I would likely dedicate my time to other titles in the genre.
Released: March 2016
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PS Vita
Genre: Action, RPG, Fantasy
Developer: Koei Tecmo
Publisher: Koei Tecmo