Interview With Koei Tecmo Producer Keisuke Kikuchi on Nights of Azure

Monday, March 7th, 2016

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Nights of Azure

Nights of Azure is a game that we here at oprainfall have been waiting to get our hands on since it was first announced for Japan. Readers have shown interest in the game’s overall look and design, but wanted to know more. So in an attempt to give accurate information to our readers, we reached out to Koei Tecmo for an interview. Producer Keisuke Kikuchi (Rygar, Fatal Frame) took the time to answer our questions about the story, characters, and future of Nights of Azure.

Nights of Azure is a new IP—how was it for the team to create a new world and story for this experience?

The original idea of Nights of Azure was actually an alternative plan that we came up with during the development process of a previous title. Our basic idea was to develop an RPG that takes place in an urban setting within an uncharted world, including both humans and “inhabitants” of a night world. Some things remained from our first draft such as the game’s Japanese title, Yoru no Nai Kuni, as well as some of the stage settings we had created, but we created a brand new world setting when we set out to develop the game. In terms of story, we were aiming to create a plot akin to the short story The Gift of the Magi, featuring two main characters with inconsistent beliefs.

What was the development process for Nights of Azure and did it ever go through any major changes?

Initially, the Servan – demon helpers that assist Arnice throughout Nights of Azure – were extremely bland, with little to no personality. They were more along the lines of just having a standard RPG skill or special ability, and the game was designed to allow players to call and use them time and time again. However, during our internal monitoring process, we found that compared to similar skills in other action RPGs, these Servan were distinct and we felt that we needed to develop that dynamic more. We allowed them further growth and increased the conversations they had, turning them into mini-characters. In addition, some of the Arena quests involve a set of 4 of the Servan, which makes the most of the original design.

What would you say is the theme of Nights of Azure?

The main theme of Nights of Azure is friendship. We would like players to enjoy the story that encapsulates Arnice and Lilysse’s struggle to save the world while trying to protect their most-treasured friend – each other.

Nights of Azure

What was the impetus for the art direction of the main characters, Arnice and Lilysse?

The Illustrator of Nights of Azure is Mr. Yoshiku. Our team spent a lot of time exploring ways of weaving in his unique art style – such as his sense of colors and ability to display feminine expressions – with the dark and mysterious theme of this title. Arnice was designed to seem like a calm and collected woman at first glance, although she harbors a fierce passion deep inside her. Lilysse, on the other hand, was characterized as an open-minded/naive woman.

What is their relationship with each other?

Arnice and Lilysse are close childhood friends. Lilysse accepts her destiny as a Saint to seal the Nightlord for the sake of humanity, while Arnice is commanded by the Curia to protect the Saint. Arnice and Lilysse are a lot like each other and because of this they sometimes quarrel, but ultimately they are really close friends and have an inseparable bond with each other.

Nights of Azure

The battle system in Nights of Azure is different from previous GUST titles. Why did you choose to move away from turn-base fights and instead go with a more fast-paced action battle system

GUST has been considering incorporating action elements while keeping the RPG aspect as a key focus, so to challenge ourselves in this endeavor we decided to establish an unprecedented style (for GUST) for a new IP title. We chose this concept because Arnice and Lilysse play dynamic roles in the story.

Who from the GUST sound team created the soundtrack for Nights of Azure? What was their inspiration for the score?

Our music department here at GUST was in charge of the music for Nights of Azure, which includes the same music ensemble that brings you the music of the Atelier series.

Nights of Azure is all about Arnice’s struggle to protect Lilysse, so to bring out and emphasize such a strong female character, we made frequent use of guitar and orchestra additions to the battle scenes and intense events. In contrast, we decided to mainly employ jazz and piano music during hotel scenes or peaceful scenes between Arnice and Lilysse.

The Nights of Azure soundtrack also offers a number of elements that bring to mind a European influence, but that wasn’t our main focus, as we designed the music to best support and highlight the drama between the two girls.

How much did Western demand for Nights of Azure influence the team when deciding if it should be localized?

We felt that we should localize this game regardless of Western demand, as we wanted to bring the new IP and gameplay style to as many audiences as possible, as long as any localization also conveys the impact of Arnice and Lilysse’s story. The Nights of Azure title was based on our overseas marketing team’s impression when we presented the original title.

There’s been a Vita version teased over Twitter, are you considering a Vita version for the Western release?

From our sales strategy point of view, we would like focus efforts on PS4 sales.

Nights of Azure

With the announcement of Gust-Chan as a Pre-Order DLC character is there any hope for future DLC in the form of characters or added story?

I currently don’t have any information regarding that at this moment, but I personally would like to continue to work with this title and develop a continuous series. With that in mind we will continue to explore various possibilities.

Will Gust-Chan ever have her own adventure?

Gust-Chan is the mascot character of GUST, and this is the first time for her to be introduced in any games developed by GUST. For now we encourage players to enjoy GUST’s new IP, Nights of Azure, and we promise to always put forth our best efforts in development.

Thank for you reading and let us know if you’re looking forward to Nights of Azure or any questions you might have in the comments below.