By Steve Baltimore / October 28th, 2017
|Title||Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon|
|Release Date||October 24th, 2017|
|Platform||PlayStation 4, Steam|
I’ve always been interested in the Nights of Azure series. This is partly because I am a huge Gust fan, but I also loved the dark gothic style, and the yuri was also a nice plus! When I got a chance to check out Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon I jumped on it. This gave me a great chance to see what this franchise was all about. Did I find another favorite in my long line of Gust titles I love, or something subpar best left on the shelf? Let’s find out!
The story follows an agent of the Curia, Aluche, as she is ordered to protect her childhood friend Lilana who is now a priestess. The two finally arrive at Curia HQ after a hard fought battle and are greeted with less than savory news. Lilana must be sacrificed to The Moon Queen as the next Bride of Time in order seal the queen’s powers. However, as their journey begins they are attacked and Aluche dies. She is revived by a Curia researcher known as Camilla. The process which gave her life again required her to become half demon. This is both a blessing and a curse, but either way she must set out to stop the Moon Queen and recover Lilana before a terrible fate befalls her.
While Aluche is a pretty common JRPG protagonist, her interactions with the rest of the cast really balanced this out and makes this story suck you in from the onset. I loved doing the various Lily Missions so I could learn more about the backstory of the entire cast and I went the through a wide range of emotions with each. There is plenty of yuri filled moments with the girls and I really got caught up in the moment quite a few times, yelling at Aluche to just “hug the girl!” I got the normal ending for this review, but I really can’t wait to dive back in for the true ending just to have more time to hang out with this amazing bunch of ladies.
Nights of Azure 2: Bride of New Moon is a mixed bag in the graphics department. The character and enemy models look great and have lots of nice details. Most of the environments are well done as well, from the city streets to lush forest areas there are plenty of details to immerse in you the action. The problem is that in certain areas the view distance has been reduced to keep this level of detail and it leaves areas in the distance which look kinda of smudged at times. This doesn’t happen a lot but when it does you will notice it. The framerate is also another area where improvements were needed. It runs smoothly most of the time, but when a group of fiends are on screen at once you will see very noticeable dips. This really doesn’t affect the gameplay, but in an action game like this, a smoother framerate makes a big difference.
I have a soft spot for Gust OST’s (I love almost all of them) and this one is no exception. There is simply an amazing assortment of upbeat tracks for the light moments, some hard rocking battle themes to get you in the mood to slay your foes, and some somber tracks to really drive home the emotional feel of darker scenes. This is simply another amazing job by that team that always does quality work. The Japanese voice overs fit the characters to a tee, but I wish they had voiced a few more scenes, since I felt a few important ones got skipped over.
The gameplay here is broken down into days, and each day the moon will become closer to a new moon. If you do not defeat a powerful foe at the end of the main quest for the chapter before the moon completely wanes, The Moon Queen will destroy the world. When Aluche was turned into a half demon it came with a serious drawback, she can only be active for a limited time each day. This time limit will increase as you level up or unlock more time via the skills tree. This means you will really have to manage your time wisely, though this time limit is not nearly as strict as it seems when you first start the game.
In each chapter you will be given a few different types of quests. Lily Quests will build up your affection with the other girls. As these ranks level up not only will you be treated to scenes that tell the character’s backstory but it will enhance their abilities in combat as well. You will also be given hunting quests. These quests will have you slaying a certain number of fiends at the various locations in the game. Doing these will net you cash to spend on items and upgrades, Servan points, and more. Since the Lily Quests are character specific and your time is limited, you need to plan out each day to get the most amount of quests completed in the time that you have.
The hotel will act as your hub throughout the game. Here the player can purchase and upgrade items or level up. You can also check out the pool if you want to change the ladies into some very nice looks swimsuits, cause I mean these girls have to look good while kicking ass, right? Before heading out for the night you can equip any items that will will be helpful for the night’s journey, pick your partner and get ready for combat. This also gives you time to select up to two Servans, fiends that are friendly to Aluche, and a partner to accompany you in battle for the night. When you return to the hotel the night will end, no matter how much time you have remaining. Aluche will have to sleep before you can go back out on another hunt, however you will be able to spend all the blood points you just earned to level up Aluche and teach her new abilities.
You can tell the developers spent a lot of time working out the details of the combat system and it paid off for them. Combat is fast, furious and has a ton of depth. Aluche has several different combo attacks with her sword, but some of your Servans will also transform into a variety of other weapons. These include spears, shields, other swords and more. They will have skills and combos of their own, making the way you fight very customizable to your playstyle. Servans will also have skills to clear obstacles you may encounter will exploring each area, these include burning away thorns, flying to reach higher areas and more. Since you can only take two out at a time there will be places on each map that you will not be able to reach on your first trip there. These Servans usually have attack skills of their own, such as breathing fire, ice, or electric shields that can be activated with L2 and R2 buttons.
The lily partner you select will have a great effect on combat as well. Each of your lilies have different skills they bring to the table. For example, Camilla’s combo attack will stun a group of enemies while Rue’s will grant you a a temporary shield. The Lily Burst attacks are all heavy damage attacks, but they will vary if they target a single foe or group of foes. I found taking support characters to boss fights rather than straight up powerhouses usually got me a better result.
Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon has a few technical problems. These include an inconsistent framerate and a camera that can be wonky in tight places even though you are in full control of it. The time mechanic seems really strict at first, but once you gain a bit more time by leveling up and unlock a few skills for more time nightly, this isn’t really an issue. The combat is fast, fun and furious and any fan of Musou styled action games will love it. The story is gripping and you will want to know more about each of these girls, as somehow I felt connected with them right from the start. At $59.99 you get about 25 hours of gameplay to get the normal ending and probably a least another 5 or so the see everything. Despite its few technical hiccups this game is well worth the price to those that love a great story or fantastic combat.
Game provided by publisher for review purposes.
ActionGustKoei TecmoMusouNights of Azure 2: Bride of the New MoonRPG