By Fabrice Stellaire / February 10th, 2017
|Title||Nights of Azure|
|Release Date||February 7th, 2017|
Koei Tecmo has finally decided to bring more games to home computers and is taking advantage of Steam to do so. This is a good thing, since in the past PC was not the best platform for Japanese games. But is Nights of Azure a RPG worthy of your time?
After the defeat of the Night Lord, his blue blood was spilled all over the world and changed humans into fiends. Arnice, a half demon who is a Holy Knight, fights them. She is helped in her quest by Lilysse, a priestess who has been chosen to be the new Saint. A Saint is a woman who has been chosen to seal the Night Lord by sacrificing her life. As the Night Lord is about to return, Lilysse wants to protect Arnice and has chosen this tragic fate. Arnice is going to do everything she can to help protect her.
Arnice is not alone in her quest and can summon Servan to fight fiends. Servan are fiends who side with Arnice and can use their powers to attack, heal, or provide support to Arnyce. When Arnyce fills a gauge, she can temporarily transform into a magical creature, which depends on the nature of the leader Servan. Four forms are available: Demon, Ghost, Rabbit, and Armor. Because fiends appear during the night, Arnice can only hunt them during that time. You have a limited amount of time to hunt outside, and have to return to the hostel when the time runs out or when you have reached your objectives. The hostel itself is a very important place in the game, as it serves the purpose of a base where you can save your progress, pick up new quests, upgrade your demon blade and talk with the protagonists of the game.
Let us now talk about the island of Rusewall, where the story takes place. The environments of Nights of Azure are definitely lacking life and look very static. In terms of quality, you could say that they are the opposite of the character design, which looks really well made. While I played, I had the feeling I was running on a giant flat board. The level design is very linear, and while this is understandable to some extent, in this case it was too extreme. The level design really gave me the feeling I was going from point A to point B, either to progress in the main story or to complete side quests, which are all generic and repetitive. Side quests generally require you to slay a specific number of fiends, go to an area, find an item or help Professor Alucard and merchant LLoyd. Those two characters serve as comic relief and are constantly looking for treasures or fiends to analyze. I cannot really talk about the script of the side quests because there is no such thing in the first place, except for Alucard and Lloyd’s requests. Side quests have a small description, but it is not something very elaborate, you are just told what you have to do.
You could expect the main plot to have better dialogue, but unfortunately, the story is told in a way that makes it looks stereotypical and boring. For example Lilysse keeps stumbling and is awful at cooking, which makes room for a lot of comical scenes but all of them feel trite. The romantic relationship between Arnice and Lilysse is cute and moving, but it lacks originality. Tragic moments, jokes, dramatic turns of events, everything seems predictable and like déjà vu. While the music is tonally correct, I found it boring too, but was unable to say if it was because of the music itself or because of the other issues of the game.
Another problem in the game design is the difficulty of your experience. The fights look easy from the beginning to the end, then suddenly there is a huge difficulty spike towards the end of the story. This could be forgivable if the monotony of the gameplay wasn’t so exhausting. Nights of Azure is not a bad game, but it delivers a mediocre experience that could have been much better if the gameplay had been more polished and if everything had been given more effort and depth. I usually like RPGs that let you raise your minions to fight, but this time I had to struggle with boredom and frustration. Tragic and romantic relationships have often been evoked in RPGs, and the result was better. If I had to cite an example, I would mention Pandora’s Tower. While the gameplay was very different, it was an example of how to write a good story about tragic love, while providing a compelling battle system. The PC version benefits feature free DLC, including Gust-chan, a Servan who uses ranged attacks, an additional map named Tokoyami no Kairou and an additional episode named Tsuioku no Kiroku. I am not sure about what Tokoyami no Kairou is (apparently, the Hall of Infinite Darkness) because the game ran with an English translation, but that map was a DLC for the PS Vita that was included in the PS4 version. In fact, this PC version does not really have new content other than the Gust-chan Servan. One problem I was not able to solve on the PC version was how to quit the game without using Alt+f4 while playing in full screen mode. By the time this review is published, the issue may be solved.
Nights of Azure is an average game which needed more development and more depth. It took me about 35 hours to beat it. I could have played more to beat the post-game content, but I wasn’t really encouraged to do it. Sold at a price of $29.99 on Steam, Nights of Azure is also available in a special bundle including Nights of Azure and Atelier Sophie.
Review Copy Provided by Publisher
Koei Tecmonights of azurePC