In Bioshock, there’s always a lighthouse. For Koei Tecmo’s “Nights of Azure”, there’s always a lesbian hotel. Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon takes that concept to a new, unnecessary height. I found myself disheartened as a result of the Nights of Azure 2 Bride of the New Moon Review.
The action-RPG found its own identity in the original Nights of Azure with the Servans system; action combat that relied heavily on four summoned monsters at your disposal. Coupled with an intimate relationship that just happened to be between two women, Nights of Azure told an interesting tale of love and sacrifice.
Sadly, Nights of Azure 2 sacrifices what makes the series unique in favour of fan service. Honestly, it plays out like fan fiction of the first game. Though the combat may feel more comfortable and familiar to Koei Tecmo game enthusiasts, by becoming more like Musou games, it discards a lot of the identity established in the original.
Nonetheless, there’s something compelling amidst the chaos of the game’s time-limits and needless back-and-forth journeys for boring quests. For the full details, read our complete review to follow!
Review Side Quest
A secret, lesbian hotel in the middle of a demon-infested city sounds cool conceptually. But what makes it cooler? A young woman that wants to make the world better through her incredible chocolate making skills. I call her Lil’ Cadbury, but her actual name’s Eleanor. So I ask of you:
If you found yourself in the middle of a secret lesbian hotel, what chocolate would you most like to have at hand?
Get in the Disqus or Facebook Comments at the end of the review. And please share this so other gamers can get involved!
How does it play?
Nights of Azure 2 puts the player in control of “Aluche”; a human-turned-half-demon in yet another world-threat story. The combat itself mainly involves the most basic of hack-and-slash action from a 3D, third-person perspective.
Think Devil May Cry minus the flair. Aluche takes on missions and has a time-limit before she has to return. The each night is a race against the Azure Moon which, if it becomes fully black, forces a Game Over. Aluche’s time can be expanded via certain skill tree perks or by the simple act of levelling up through the absorption of blue blood (killing enemies, basically).
New Content: Allies of the Ample Bosom.
Aluche isn’t alone in her fight. She has the aid of several combat-ready women, the majority of which could destroy this game’s antagonist with a chest bump. Huge anime boobs aside, they all have their own special attacks as well as three combination moves with Aluche.
Lily Burst, Double Chase and Active Skill all require the player’s button input but all tend to be quite powerful. Otherwise, allies just attack on their own. Allies can have their affection raised through specific missions to unlock new abilities alongside their general experience gain and automatic stat raising. Affinity with certain characters also affects the ending.
Sadly, their involvement comes at the cost of the Servans Aluche can carry being reduced by two. Whilst I welcome the new ladies of Nights of Azure, I’m disappointed that their inclusion harms the most interesting aspect of this relatively new Koei Tecmo series.
Servans Return. Kind of.
The Servan system returns from the original game, but in a watered-down form. Servans are demons that can be recruited to aid in Aluche’s adventure. They come in two types: Striker and Trickster.
Both, in their basic form, will attack enemies and buff allies on their own. If actively utilised (via L2 or R2 on PS4) they’ll use their special action on Aluche’s location. Strikers transform in to a new weapon for Aluche, whilst Tricksters have a super attack. Some are significantly more useful than others.
Certain Servans also have powers that’ll get you past obstacles in the world itself. The issue is that you can only take two Servans out in the field at a time, and you can only venture out once per night.
There’s no logical reason as to why the count of Servans has been reduced to two from the original’s four outside of now having another allied “Human” character with you in the field. Frankly, the game is easy using Aluche alone. Having to return to the hotel in order to switch out Servans doesn’t serve much of a purpose in my view.
Servans Still Work Well Enough Though.
That said, a few Servans are incredibly useful against enemies with a lot of health. Scharf, an electric wolf, will spam out rotating lightning balls upon use of its special ability. On its own, it’ll call down bolts and howl out streams of electricity. My issue isn’t with the Servans themselves – I think they define Nights of Azure – but rather their relegation to a sub-mechanic in favour of the Ladies of Hotel Eterna.
Movement and Feel in General
Aluche’s movements are clunky. Combat itself feels loose, even when locked on to a target and it’s a simple button masher at its worst, with mild strategy featuring Servan and ally abilities at its best. Truthfully, it feels on par with Nights of Azure but the emphasis on hack-and-slash this time around makes the weaknesses of Gust’s latest entry all the more apparent.
Presentation and Graphics
Nights of Azure 2 looks okay. It has interesting character design – it’s very “Gust” – but everything else is fairly bland. The environments fall flat to me, the hotel hub, though larger, doesn’t feel as charming as the original did and the enemies are meaningless fodder to the point that their designs lack meaning.
I do enjoy the look of the Servans and their evolutions, though I feel more could have been done in that department too. It’s safe to assume the majority of the attention went on just how much side-boob the team could squeeze out of Aluche.
We could talk all day of the gravity defying anime ladies and their somewhat-typical “anime” designs, which I’m not going to say I didn’t appreciate at times, but it’s very much thrown in your face a whole lot. That and the fucking weird mecha-wedding dress Aluche has to wear when levelling up at the Hotel. There’s no other way to describe it. It’s fucking weird.
But Hey; Good Music.
Once again, Nights of Azure has a soothing soundtrack filled with strings and piano. That said, we’ve had incredible soundtracks this year and Nights of Azure doesn’t feel as special as a result. Still, there’s a touch of class in its composition that clashes with much of the game’s other design choices.
All in all, Nights of Azure 2’s presentation is – as stated before – okay across the board. I still like Gust’s character designs but boy did they fall down the fan service hole this time around.
Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon Review Main Features
Nights of Azure 2 features a single player story campaign. Upon completion, which can be done within 10 hours, players can replay the game via loading their clear data. Depending on the ending achieved, players will have access to special items that increase experience, ability point and Servan point rewards for each activity. The new game will also carry over ally affinity levels as well as any and all items (a boost to various stats or resistances) obtained in the last playthrough. All that and the Libra (currency) earned is yours to keep for subsequent play-throughs.
There’s a bunch of concept art and a movie viewer in the “Extras” room upon completion too. I mean, it’s something.
The Story: Nights of Azure Fan Fiction.
I’m not going to pretend that Gust tells the most amazing stories, but I usually enjoy them. In fact, there are aspects of Nights of Azure 2 that I enjoy too. Unfortunately, what I like about the character interactions is overshadowed by the bizarre choice to make everybody a little horny for Aluche.
Aluche and Liliana are the Arnice and Lilysse of Nights of Azure 2; two women with a clear, deep connection that binds them through this journey. Aluche, a knight of the Curia, is reunited with Liliana as an escort for the Bride of Time. The objective, ultimately, is to sacrifice Liliana in order to stop the Eternal Night from consuming the world and sealing the Moon Queen away. Along the way, Aluche dies and is resurrected by Dr Camilla as a half-demon using the blood of Arnice (from Nights of Azure 1).
The odd twist is that Aluche and Liliana are a part of this three-way love triangle with another old friend from their academy days: Ruenheid. Ruenheid works for the Lourdes Order, opposition to the Curia that never really amounts to anything, and also seems deeply in love with Aluche.
Many of the characters in this game are women that seems to want to be knuckle-deep in Aluche. Despite this, I don’t want to spoil a few character appearances. But I think it’s fair to say that the game sets up various “conflicts” between mysterious organisations that simply don’t come to fruition because it appears to be too busy on the confusing love triangle.
The original had the focus of Arnice and Lilysse and their relationship, but Aluche comes across as some fan-fiction creation that can overcome anything, everything and love everybody equally, with a slight edge to Liliana.
But it’s Not All Bad.
The affinity system, though mind-numbing to increase, gives birth to the few character moments I enjoyed. The one-on-one connection with Aluche to each ally and discovery of their personal backstories gave them depth you’d otherwise never get.
Sadly, you don’t *have* to engage with this system if you don’t want the “true” ending. And a true ending might not be worth the time investment of the affinity system. Still, despite the awkward design around the quests themselves, the story tied to their six segments of affinity are various degrees of good. I particularly like Veruschka’s arc. though it’s also tied to the most unexplained situation in the game’s main plot.
Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon Review Main Complaints: What Ruins Nights of Azure 2?
Ultimately, what bothers me most about Nights of Azure 2 is how it wastes the player’s time with arbitrary road-blocks. The time limit on adventures can be good for building tension at first, but it’s easily circumvented with Aluche’s skill tree.
It’s more to do with the quest system. Simply put, engaging with the sub-quests and affinity system aren’t worth the time in your first run. In subsequent runs, the moon never runs out of time so a “game over” is no longer a concern. Each quest usually requires an ally to accompany you, of which you can only take one per adventure, and travel is only possible to a single location of the seven per night.
For example, say Liliana has all six affinity hearts filled. You’ll want to do the blue-icon affinity quests with her to unlock her special abilities. Sounds great! Except you’ll need to do it over 6 nights of going out, doing a minor thing and coming back to bed. A heap of loading screens and needless tedium stand between the player and their hard-earned rewards. A lot of this could have been avoided by allowing for the fast travel points in the field (Gates of Distortion) to connect to other locations. Alas, that wasn’t to be, and Nights of Azure 2 seems to enjoy making its players wriggle in its waste.
Should I play this?
Not really would be the answer. I don’t think anybody outside of a hardcore Nights of Azure fan should engage with Nights of Azure 2. Even with that caveat, Nights of Azure fans may be disappointed by the changes made unless “more lesbians” defines your wishlist.
Nights of Azure 2 is a weaker product than its predecessor, casting what made it unique away in favour of catering to the Musou / weak light novel crowd when their publisher already had those needs met. It’s still a passable hack and slash game, but there are much better offerings. Especially in 2017.
Gamers who should…
People seeking a mindless action game that can be easily consumed as they listen to Giant Bomb’s Game of the Year deliberations may find this appealing.
Gamers who probably shouldn’t…
Anybody that values their time to invest in a real quality action game. There are better out there than this example.
Nights of Azure, Devil May Cry, Bayonetta. A watered down version of all of the aforementioned.
|The Good||The Bad||The Bugs|
|Individual Character Moments||Weakened Servan system||Hard crashes when going through certain rooms in the Hotel. Repeated several times.|
|Servans are back but…||Over-reliance on fan service|
|I like Aluche. I don’t love the reverence of her.||“Aluche is flawless” fan fiction mentality.|
About This Nights of Azure 2 Bride of the New Moon Review
Game Reviewed: Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon, Digital edition provided by publisher
Review Format: PS4
PEGI Rating: 16