I have never played the first Nights of Azure game, nor am I an aficionado of Gust titles in general. While I’ve heard good things about some of the Atelier series, I’ve been too intimidated by the sheer number of titles [Nineteen main Atelier games, and seven sub-series with 2-3 games in each] to start sinking my teeth into them. Unfortunately, Nights of Azure 2 hasn’t exactly made me eager to try out any more of their releases, and I’ll attempt to explain why that is.
Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Platform: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date: October 24th, 2017
Players: Single Player
As far as first impressions go, Nights of Azure 2 left a bit to be desired. The graphics are, frankly, pretty hideous. In one of the very first scenes of the game, I noticed a very obvious seam in the seat texture of the protagonist’s carriage. The background in this scene was also hard to ignore, full of blocky tree models and muddy, unappealing colors.
This wasn’t a fluke, either. The rest of NoA 2 looks like garbage. I had to double check that I wasn’t playing a port of an old PS2 game, which didn’t exactly inspire confidence. When your game looks like a Simple2000 title from 16 years ago, you might need to do some soul-searching.
A shining beacon in an otherwise bleak-looking game is the characters. They all look unique and visually interesting, the titillation of their bouncing breasts and sexy outfits not lost on me. Just a cursory glance at most of the main cast will give you an idea of what their personalities/fighting styles are like, which is a sign of good character design.
The characters themselves proved interesting throughout my time with NoA2, with each of them having their own motivations and reasons for supporting the protagonist.
The story begins with your character, Aluche, on a quest from the Curia [basically the church] to sacrifice her childhood friend. Without a saint being sacrificed, the Moon Queen will bring about eternal night, which is just a real bummer for everyone.
Aluche, not about to ruin another source of yuri fanservice for the game, tries to find another way to save the word that doesn’t involve killing off her waifu. This results in her getting attacked by the Moon Queen and killed in front of her friends.
She wakes up, only to find out she’s been saved by a doctor named Camilla, who becomes one of your potential party members [called Lilies in this game, for some reason]. However, Aluche is a half-demon now, which grants her special powers at the cost of getting tired very quickly.
The plot centers around Aluche trying to track down her childhood friend Liliana and defeat the Moon Queen. Using a fancy hotel as a hub, you visit a number of different stages, hacking and slashing your way through hordes of demons and spooky monsters to fulfill your goals.
Said hacking and slashing plays out in typical musou style, with the protagonist cleaving through enemies with the help of a Lily and two Servans. Servans are little familiars that give you buffs and assist you in combat, though you can almost completely write off the ones that transform into weapons. There are Servans who allow you to reach otherwise inaccessible parts of the stages, so not bringing them along essentially hamstrings you.
The Lilies seem poorly-implemented as well, sadly. I recall a few fights where Camilla just stood there and watched me get beat on, when she had been firing away just moments ago. Their abilities are also hit-or-miss, with each ally having a different Lily Burst and Double Chase attack.
Both of these attacks are useful for crowd control, but you’ve got to watch the long, drawn-out animation every time they’re used. The Double Chase abilities also have to be used in a few seconds upon activation, or they’ll fizzle out. I can’t tell you how many times these went to waste, as I’d already cleared out all the enemies before it activated.
This brings me to my three biggest problems with Nights of Azure 2.
My first critical issue is TIME LIMITS. There are 2 arbitrary timers in the game. One is the countdown that starts upon entering a stage, which forces you back to the hotel once it expires. The other has to do with the moon phases, giving you a Game Over when it reaches its peak.
I think I speak for a decent chunk of gamers when I say that time limits are extremely annoying. The fact that you can upgrade the level timer just makes this more irritating, when you realize that you’re grinding experience just to give you more time to grind experience.
The second huge flaw in this game is the performance. On the PS4, NoA 2 runs at 30 frames per second, but I noticed some serious problems during combat. It felt like I was playing a slideshow in certain parts, when too many enemies were on screen for the game to handle. With visuals as unimpressive as this, it’s hard to imagine why it runs so poorly. Play it on PC, if you must.
My third biggest issue with Nights of Azure 2 is the endless yuri-baiting. As far as I’m aware, there are no -actual- romances at the end of respective characters’ paths. There’s constant titillation, as well as cute scenes between the girls, but it doesn’t culminate in anything other than friendship. I wasn’t expecting anything crazy, but if the yuri in this game was a selling point for you, you’re going to be disappointed.
If it seems like I don’t have many nice things to say about Nights of Azure 2, it’s because I don’t. I found the overall experience utterly forgettable, despite some nice character designs and the occasional cute interaction between the girls.
The graphics suck, the perfomance is terrible, there are no actual lesbians at the end of the game, and the time limits wreak havoc on an already mediocre hack n’ slash game.
Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New was reviewed on the PlayStation 4 using a review copy provided by Koei Tecmo. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.