Review: Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon (PS4)

Review: Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Flag_of_the_United_States.svg
Title: Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (12.45 GB)
Release Date: October 24, 2017
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Gust
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 16
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Despite being a little cliche and having just okay combat, Nights of Azure had a unique style and a good focus on a lesbian relationship that helped it stand apart.

My hope was that a sequel would be able to build on the good parts of the first game while enhancing the mediocre parts.

Sadly, Gust has opted instead to rehash some parts of the first game while cheapening others to make a game that, while enjoyable, didn’t live up to my expectations.

Gameplay:
The first game’s story focused on a half-human, half-demon named Arnice who struggles between her mission to sacrifice her friend Lilysse to a demon lord for the sake of mankind and her love for said friend.

The story in Nights of Azure 2 is about a human named Aluche who becomes half-demon who unknowingly accepts a mission to sacrifice her friend Liliana to a demon lord, but finds out and decides to fight said demon instead.

Joining Aluche on her quest are several other girls, both from the mysterious Curia that she works for but also from Lourdes Order which opposes the sacrifice to the demon. Rather than focus solely on Aluche’s relationship with Liliana, the maiden to be sacrificed, Aluche can grow close to any of the all-female supporting cast.

The unfortunate thing is that while the first game felt very focused on trying to depict Arnice’s conflicted state for being stuck between her commitment to the Curia and her love of Lilysse, Azure 2 feels more like a case of girl-on-girl is hot, where the relationships are there more for fan service. There are still some touching moments, but I couldn’t help but feel like a few of the relationships were more forced.

On the combat side of things, the basic hack-and-slash gameplay is back. It controls well enough but can feel clunky from time to time when a special move completely misses a group of enemies or when the lock-on feature swings the camera around wildly to focus on an enemy behind you rather than one in front.

Aluche is joined in combat by one of her companions and two summoned monsters. All three of these allies are nominally just AI compatriots, though Aluche can call on them at times. She has a few team-up attacks with her “Lily” (the name for her human partners) and the ability to force the monsters to do a special attack. Again, these are fine but the monsters don’t feel quite as tactical as in the previous game.

Unfortunately, in addition to only being able to use two of the approximately two dozen monsters at once, the game’s levels have hidden areas that require specific monsters to unlock. So while there is some nice variety, including some monsters that can transform into new weapons for Aluche to use, I always felt like I had to include the four or five that had utility in opening hidden areas.

The game’s structure can also be an annoyance. There’s a very simple day system, so Aluche can only travel to one area each day, after which she must rest. Initially, she can only be out for ten minutes each day, though this time limit is very quickly increased as she levels up. And on top of that, she only has a set number of days to complete each story chapter.

The limits are fairly generous, especially after a patch came out that pauses the ten minute timer during boss fights, but can still hamper exploration. Aluche gets a veritable smorgasbord of quests and while she can usually complete any number in a single area in a single visit to said area, because she can only visit one area each day, the game still feels like it’s limiting the player.

Lily-specific quests also restrict the player as Aluche can only swap out allies from her home base, meaning two Lily-quests with different allies in the same area have to be completed on different days. Once I started paring down the quests I actually cared to finish, I started to enjoy the game a little bit more. Trying to complete every quest and ‘Josh’ the game, just bogs it down in tedium.

Visuals:
As with a lot of recent Japanese games, Nights of Azure 2 was released on the Vita in Japan in addition to the PS4 and Switch. Being compliant with the handheld curbs the graphics in some ways, even on the PS4 version. Character models look decent when still but the animations aren’t all that good. Things don’t always look natural.

The first game felt like a template for high-class aesthetic, with Victorian style architecture and locales. While that carries through into parts of this game, it features more forests, mines, and other dirtier areas. The characters don’t feel as classy either, with many of the costumes showing a lot of skin.

Audio:
Once again, there is no option for English voices. The Japanese voice actresses do a good job though, where used. There are some occasional scenes that don’t have any voice work at all, but these are smaller side scenes.

The music is one of the better parts of the game, with a pretty unique soundtrack. On the other hand, I had some issues with the game’s sound effects. For some reason they sounded inconsistent at times.

In certain team-up attacks for instance, the sounds of gunshots or hitting enemies sounded muted, making team-up attacks feel less impressive than they probably should. As with any game, there are sliders to adjust different volumes but the sound effects were inconsistent between actions and not across the board.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon is a decent game, but it sadly didn’t live up to my hopes. Instead of improving on the first game, it rehashes story elements and cheapens it by making the fan service angle too strong.

I’m all for some fan service but here it’s incongruous with the rest of the game. The direct combat, the hacking and slashing, plays fine and is the one improvement from its predecessor. I just wish the monster summoning element was a little better.

Overall, this game is worth a run. Even if it starts as a rehash, the story is still interesting and expanding the main character’s love interests gives some player choice. If you go in expecting a good JRPG and without my expectations and I’m sure most players can have a good time.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Flag_of_the_United_States.svg
Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg
Flag_of_Canada.svg
amazon.ca

 

Written by Andy Richardson

Andy Richardson

A longtime PlayStation fan who enjoys JRPGs and rhythm games when he’s not tweeting about his parrot.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook