Long ago, a great battle against the monstrous Nightlord, the Antagonist of the first Nights of Azure game left a lasting effect on the world. Foul creatures, known as “Fiends,” surfaced during the night, leaving humans with only the light of the sun as their ally. Our protagonist, Aluche is a young lady who has achieved the rank of Holy Knight in the Curia, one of two organisations attempting to stop the predecessor to the Nightlord, the Moon Queen. Not to long after the intro Aluche is killed by the Moon Queen in an attempt to protect her childhood friend who is to be sacrificed as bride to the Moon Queen. She’s then brought back to life as a half demon, vowing to defeat her killer and save her friend in the process. The plot isn’t complex, but it’s not exactly by the books either. It’s got action, mystery, and my personal favorite, romance, sweet romance between the main character, and her two childhood friends. Of the three ladies, Ruenheid happens to be my favorite. She’s loyal, honest, majorly powerful to the point that she out classes other Lilies in battle, but most of all she Tsundere.
Starting this game for the first time my initial impression of it was that it seemed a bit dated. I didn’t find the graphics appealing, and the lack of an option to skip or pause pre-rendered cutscenes along with the clunky camera had me ready to ditch this game faster than a someone on a bad blind date. I told myself that if the game didn’t offer any form of redemption after a couple hours, I’d be forced to call it quits, give it a solid do not buy, and move on to my next review. Thankfully it got better.
So how does it get better?
The first thing that adopters of Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon need to know is to change the camera sensitivity as soon as you’re able to do so. I’ve found that 8 bars is the sweet spot. You’re also going to want to lower your graphical expectations. This is not a super polished graphical masterpiece. It looks good enough, and runs acceptable enough, but it’s not gonna win any awards for it’s visuals. On my review set-up I got it to run relatively well with a few stutters, but nothing that broke the gameplay experience for me. I would have preferred to have some more graphic options, but it only comes with options for resolution and depth of field, so if you’re not getting adequate performance then you’re going to want to lower your resolution till it’s playable. For me I was able to get 1080p running with depth of field enabled, accompanied by the occasional stutter. Now I usually save discussing graphics for later in a review, but when writing I realised that it’s the first aspect of the game that people are going to notice. That along with the performance are the first thing that stands out. The game manages to look like a game that was created for older hardware, but adapted for the PC. Kind of like a PS3 game ported to the PC, and given that there is a Vita version in Japan it makes sense. The environments aren’t the prettiest and neither are the character models, however, some locations do stand out due to their artistic perspective. In locations where you are able to view buildings in the background it looks pretty good. I liken it to atmospheric effects on a watercolor painting except that its prospective changes as you move.
Combat in the game is another aspect of the game that takes a little getting use to. For me I began to appreciate it after leveling up a bit and acquiring a few Lilies. After that it became something that most action RPG fans should be able to appreciate. It’s not to complicated, so mastering it will only take a short amount of time. It’s also quite possible to button mash the same button till the enemy is defeated. In a way this game just requires patience.Your character is capable of using combos by alternating between the “X & Y” buttons on PC which I assume are replaced by square and triangle on PlayStation. Combat also involves dodging and blocking using the bumpers, two options I avoided using during my initial playthrough due to the fact that I played the game on easy and thus wasn’t losing enough HP to warrant their use. You are also able to jump by pressing A, but I’ll recommend avoiding that in combat as it’s animation is stiff and it’s not as useful in combat as the other options on offer, like the team and Servan attacks. The team moves are activated by button prompts when certain requirements are met, and the Servan attacks are usable by pressing the triggers as long as they have MP. As you get further into the game you will gain new Lilies and Servans who each have their own benefit. Some of which are are tied to character progression in the game, which sometimes forces the player to play with characters they otherwise wouldn’t use. I know for a fact that if given the option I’d just stick to Rue. Now technically one can play with only their their characters of choice, but by doing this the player misses most of the character development, which to me isn’t an option any JRPG fan would consider. Some missions can only be completed with certain Servans and Lilies, and the player is only able to use one of the Lilies, and 2 Servans at a time. What this evidently means is that revisiting locations in this game is also quite common.
Now as mentioned before I initially played this game on easy, but trust me when I say, the primary difficulty with this game is not related to it’s combat. The game has a time based system similar to The legend of Zelda Major’s Mask that dictates how a player can play, and it is the highlight of the game for me. This system is tied to the moon’s phases. At the beginning of each chapter the moon is presented in one of its phases and it shrinks with each passing day. The main character must complete her main missions before the moon is completely gone or it’s game over, but it gets even tougher, because you see she only has a limited amount of time that she can spend in a mission area before she must return to her base of operation and rest, thus progressing the date, and by association the moon. As I played I attempted to push this system to its limits by trying to complete every side quest, and maximizing my time in each area.
Your time extends the further you get in the game, as well as by using the leveling tree. In my first playthrough I focused on maxing out the time I could spend in battle by collecting as much Blue Blood from Fiends and Demons as I could then returning to the maintenance room to level up Al. It’s also possible to level up the Servans, evolve them and ultimately make them much more useful in combat.
Nights of Azure 2 has a rocky start thanks to some pretty rough edges. It’s a game that requires some tweaking, and patience to truly gain the most out of it. I particularly enjoyed the love triangle between the three main ladies, and the mission limitation system, but for some this may not be enough to warrant a purchase. If my analysis of the game sounds like something you may like then I recommend picking it up. If not there are may other great JRPGs on the market right now that you can consider. As for me though it took me sometime, In essence I grew to love it despite its shortcomings.
The copy of Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon used for this review was provided to us by it’s Publisher, KOEI TECMO America.