+An outstanding soundtrack as well as solid atmospherics that set the mood
+Graphics have been heavily upgraded from the previous entry offering more depth and artistic value
+Extremely enjoyable cast members that each feel unique and well rounded
-Combat system feels dulled down due to the limited party sizes
-Time restrictions while playing the game
-Exploring is slightly limited compared to the previous entry
Before games launch, we’re used to seeing a lot of interest being drawn in just before they hit the shelves in order to grow the games publicity, but also to reach a rather large audience. Games like Nioh, DOOM, and even Wolfenstien II: The New Colossus did this rather well. One such game that hasn’t, just happens to be Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon, a game that carries on the traditional elements we’ve seen from developer Gust in previous years.
Their latest entry just happens to be one that flew under the radar, it didn’t receive a lot of pre-release news, and certainly isn’t receiving any as of now. When the game was originally advertised, it was one that was promoted as a ‘darker side’ of Gust, parting ways with the whimsical series known as Atelier and even their recently released Blue Reflection. Thanks to the team here at Blast Away the Game Review, I’ve been given a second chance to get in touch with this series, and truly delve into it once more with this second entry.
Before we begin, we need to discuss a bit of why I wouldn’t have known about this series had it not been for Dustin and David. A lot of the reason being as mentioned, the game has received little-to-no press coverage. It’s an obscure game, one that you wouldn’t likely pick up off the shelf unless someone had mentioned it. Despite all of its imperfections and minor nitpicks I’ve had, the game is one of the best games I’ve played within the JRPG genre. Just like Nights of Azure, I’ve been given a reason to take a peek at a series that has quickly begun to become one of my favorites, and one that I hope to see more of in the future.
To begin, Nights of Azure 2 introduces to a new protagonist: Aluche. Aluche is a half-demon female lead, following suit of the first one, by giving us a strong female presence. Just like the first one, she’s also fitted with a companion: Liliana. Liliana is a priestess of the Curia, rather, she was. Was being due to the fact she was chosen to be the Bride of Time only to be sacrificed to the Moon Queen in order to bind her powers. This is where Aluche comes in, she’s an agent of the Curia, and was assigned to protect Liliana, in order to protect her from harm before the sacrifice could occur.
With them also comes a new character, Ruenheid, a powerful swordsman, whom is trained to be the Warrior of Light. Wait a second, rewind a second. Warrior of Light. Is that a reference to Final Fantasy? Regardless, Ruenheid is an interesting character. His goal is to safe the world. Our story follows the events after Liliana has learned that she has been chosen to be sacrificed and has joined up with the Lourdes order, a group that opposes the Curia, and would like to stop the Moon Queen all together. Sounds simple, right?
Of course, nothing is quite that simple. Just ask any fan of a JRPG franchise, nothing is ever that simple. Why? The Moon Queens end-game goal is to sink the world into eternal night, and seal the fate of humanity forever. Just like the first game, Nights of Azue, our sequel here is also a yuri game. Unlike the first title however, Gust didn’t hold back this time around, and they aren’t shy about showing off the love triangle between Ruenheid, Liliana and Aluche. Unfortunately, it doesn’t even seem these ladies really realize they have it in for one another, and seems a bit cryptic all together, but watching how they relate to each other is a whole story of its own.
But lets not let this be taken the wrong way, this is what makes the most endearing features of the story come to life. Fan service does manage to step forth and become a star of the show. One of these incidents just happens to take place during the time players get to see a cutscene where the characters are relaxing in a hotel swimming pool. Just as you’d expect, their swimsuits are anything, but concealing. They are rather revealing, and these suits can also be worn as normal attire throughout ones entire adventure through the game. This means at any time, you can play some digital dress-up and decide to choose what outfits you want, and even take advantage of some awesome outfits from their second game that recently released called Blue Reflection.
In the sense of gameplay Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon works quite similarly to its predecessor title. Players will find themselves suing a location called Hotel Eterna as their base of operations where our group of heroes – Aluche, Ruenheid, Liliana, Camilla, and mother other companions – will come together in order to undertake the adventure they are about to experience. This means players will see Aluche, just like Arnice, collect blue blood from the fiends they slay in battle, only to return to an assigned area in order to convert the blue blood in order to empower Aluche with new abilities, levels, and skill pints. This includes attributes, extra health, chances at status effects, or even increasing the amount of time that Aluche can hunt.
Just like in the previous game, items can be bought, equipped, enhanced, and even changed out in order to increase Aluche’s lethality. The only thing I did take notice of was the fact that even with empowering/strengthening my items, I didn’t find it to be a deal breaker had I forgotten to. A shame really, I did hope for a bigger challenge on this front, but it was entertaining enough to deserve a round of applause.
Just like its predecessor, players will need to advance the story by completing side missions. During these missions, Aluche and company leave Hotel Eterna, and head off into the zones where they will fight. Unlike the original title, however, some of the games core mechanics have been torn apart and thrown away. Zones are now separate entities from one another, no more will you need to run from one place to another, but in order to help transition, there are fast travel points for you to utilize within each of the games area maps. Unfortunately for this game, time limits are a thing, and they are actually quite annoying for fans to enjoy.
For story purposes however, it is explained, but is troubling. Aluche can only be out on the hunt for so long due to her half demon heart. The troubling part here, is the fact that you will have to be careful about utilizing your 15 minute clock, one that tends to tick down rather quickly. But that also includes the fact that your time includes getting back to the hotel from your mission location. To make matters even more problematic for those that play the game, time counts down even quicker later on as players quickly approach the full moon with each day advanced. The problem here is even more real than ever: side quests can be missed out on. Due to the fact that side-quests do exist, players will be brought down to the reality that your time with them is limited.
Because of this, you may find yourself struggling to take different Lilly companions into different areas in the game, and could make it hard for you to enjoy the game if you are a completionist. If you are one of them, there is a way to slow the ever-shrinking moon, and it is an option to consider. That option is to defeat powerful boss creatures, these help you advance to the games next chapter, and unlock more of the story. This unfortunately for you wanting to free roam, won’t get to do so at your leisure as much as you’d hope.
There is one new feature however, rather an expanded feature from the previous title. This feature is the ability for fans to build up the bond between Aluche and the Lilies. Players can increase their affinity meter with each of the the NPCs by taking them on a hunt with Aluche, and even spending time performing double attacks while completing character specific missions. Due to the dual time limits within the game, you do have to keep in mind that the game is all about time management. Unfortunately, that also means that you will want to take some time in order to review all of your available side quests and allow you to maximize your plan for each of your hunts. Completing the side quests for each of your companion can also unlock bonuses for them as well as some extremely odd commentary between them.
Aside from these minor changes, upgrades, and disgruntlement’s, we do need to discuss the games audio and graphics. Just as you’d expect, the graphics are rather similar to the first game of the series. Enemies, characters, and graphical environments have seen some minor improvements, allowing for more immersion and enjoyability for those wanting to immerse themselves within the game. Graphics run smoother, allowing for steady framerates on both PlayStation 4 and even more-so on the PlayStation 4 Pro.
Just like the visuals, audio has also received a minor overhaul, allowing for fans to enjoy the games rather enjoyable sound, which makes it one of the most excellent things you can listen to at any time. Trust me, I can’t complain, I actually enjoy it quit ea bit and found myself even tapping my toes to the rhythm of some of the games songs. Just like the visuals, and sound, controlling Aluche is easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. All of this delivers one of the most solid experiences out there despite the minor aggravations I found with the games combat systems, which limited how many members you could have in battle compared to the first game, or even the amount of time I had in order to complete my quests.
Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon – PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Release Date: Available Now
Regardless of your preference, the visual appeal to the game is a nice change, I found it overall better. With the audio tracks mixed in, I loved it, and I can’t even complain through my entire experience with the title. If there is any change I would have to recommend for a third title, I would have to suggest they increase the amount of party members that a player can have, and how effective parties are. I’d even like to see the time restrictions change a bit, as having restricted time is annoying, and quite problematic for those looking to have a bit of fun. Even then, Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon is a game you shouldn’t pass up, and for those wanting the full experience, we highly suggest picking up Nights of Azure if you haven’t already.
Our review is based upon a retail version we were provided by the games publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 7 out of 10
About the Writer:
Chris Adee is one of B.A.T.G.R.’s contributing writers who seems to love three things. Sleep, games, and Warframe. He also likes spending plenty of time sharing a controller with his kids while they game together. By day he’s a gamer and by night he’s a family man who games.