Action packed battles, buxom beauties and a story of friendship that transcends fate; you’ll find this and more in Koei Tecmo’s recent release Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon. As someone who has played their fair share of JRPG’s, it was only natural I try my hand at this ‘girl power’ game, and I’m glad I did. Nights of Azure 2, in every sense, is an anime-styled video game, which can be felt with its cell shaded charm, stereotypical female character archetypes, and colorful yet slightly gothic settings. Following on from the original Nights of Azure game, it thankfully does not require a player to have completed the first entry, as this tale does not centre around Arnice, the first games protagonist.
The tale of Nights of Azure 2 follows Aluche Antoria, an agent of the Curia who has been tasked with escorting the Bride of Time and childhood friend, Liliana Selphin to help seal the demonic Moon Queen. The ceremony to seal the Moon Queen demands a human sacrifice be made, meaning that Aluche will in time help to end Liliana’s life. However all does not go as planned when both the Moon Queen and Ruenheid Ariahod, another of Aluche’s childhood friends attempt to liberate Liliana from her. In the scuffle Aluche is mortally wounded by the Moon Queen but it brought back to life using demonic blood, turning her into half demon. It’s from here that Aluche begins to search for her missing friend Liliana and decide which path she’ll take to stop the Moon Queen, either by her own hand or by ending Liliana’s life.
The gameplay of Nights of Azure 2 is quite fun to master as there is quite a bit to grasp when first picking up your controller. You’ll need to play close attention when the game provides you with information regarding your battle techniques and those of your allies. Throughout the game there are several missions you’ll be tasked with, some which are needed to progress the story and others that serve as both side content and ways to improve your gameplay experience.
The most interesting fact about all this is you’ll only be granted a finite amount of time to complete each mission as Aluche’s body is unable to sustain long periods of battle. Careful consideration is needed when choosing which mission you take on; it certainly helps to combine numerous missions into the one day if possible. If however you find you’ve spent your time carelessly, you may rewind time back to the beginning of the chapter. Fair warning however, all progress in that chapter will be lost, so try to remain vigilant of the time you have.
Aluche is joined several other characters to aid her on her journey, each with their own unique style of combat and weaponry to fight with. In the beginning all of the characters are very one dimensional and have little use in battle, but as time progressed and I developed closer bonds, their roles became more integral. Through missions provided Aluche can raise the levels of friendship and grant new skills to her team mates. However, as mentioned earlier, taking on these missions take up precious time and that if you wish to do so you will need to be weary of how much time you have left to complete the actual story. Of course I played the game on a razors edge, as I always had one day left before game over to complete the story and extend my time, but I always scraped through in the end.
During your exploration you’ll come across creatures known as Servans; fiends that retain a sense of who they used to be and will aid you in your travels. During exploration you’ll some across obstacles that require a type of servans assistance to overcome. If you wish to explore as much of the world and obtain all the rare and valuable items available you will need to utilise them as much as possible. Also there are a few rare types of servans that can transform your weapon into different forms, changing up your style of combat and bolstering your capacity for damage. Completing certain missions will provide you with experience to level and evolve your servans too, which
“You’ll be able to unleash an array of fast combos and call upon the aid of your lilies to perform powerful combos and finishing attacks”
Battles in Nights of Azure 2 are quite enjoyable, keeping me coming back for more due to the numerous battle combinations. Mainly controlling Aluche you’ll be joined by one other side character (or Lilie as the game refers) and two Servans, which will aid you with different with abilities or attacks. During battle you’ll be able to unleash an array of fast combos and call upon the aid of your lilies to perform powerful combos and finishing attack. Learning when to utilise these attacks will save you heaps of grievances down the track as in later stages the fiends become rather strong and cunning. Defeating as many enemies during a day of exploration will prove extremely beneficial, as the blood you collect from them will help to level you up and grant you extra abilities, stats and additional time to explore during missions.
Nights of Azure 2 certainly does have a lot going for it, but there were some niggling issues that even a JRPG nut like myself still had difficulty overcoming. Now I’m all for colourful characters and the occasional ample-bosomed character, but I found it hard to take the game seriously at times when characters almost had busts the sizes of buses. I constantly found myself asking, do you really need to be practically naked to fight and what purpose does it serve? Except maybe to perpetuate those overdone anime stereotypes. I also felt that the camera and controls during battle were, at times, a bit too fragmented. I was constantly finding it hard to hone in on enemies and at times my final attacks were hitting weaker enemies or just missing the target altogether, something that frustrated me to no end.
Get ready to slay all who oppose you!
My overall experience of Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon was rather pleasurable with a fantastic combination of gameplay, story, and artistic vision. The changing faces of the moon mechanic, which prompted me to play smart, made for an enriching challenge that I had not had since Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns, where time management was crucial for success. Personally, however, I don’t believe this is a game for everyone, and certainly not for someone with little to no love for all things anime. It utilises many key themes that would simply go over the heads of those looking for a story with a more realistic tone. However, if you are a fan of the over-the-top battles, end of the world scenarios and a well-rounded all-female cast, then you need look no further than Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon.