Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon - PS4 Review

If you were a fan of the first game, then you should feel right at home with the recently released Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon. It brings back most of what I enjoyed about the first game - the interesting world, the enjoyable combat and the lovely visuals. I just wish that Gust would have taken a few more chances with this sequel along the way.

Mind you, that is always the balancing act that a developer has to perform. The original Nights of Azure was quite a surprise when I had a chance to play it on PlayStation 4, and it still managed to feel free for its PC release later. We enjoyed the game for many reasons, and with a new property, I can understand why Gust might not want to shake things up too much in the sequel. That being said, I enjoyed the original game's story, even if it got a bit convoluted at times. Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon mines a very similar tale.

We have a pair of young women at the core of this tale, again one who is already a fantastic warrior who has been made something of a half-demon, this blood infusing her with even greater power and potential. Her name is Aluche and she serves a mysterious order called the Curia. The other primary character is Liliana, a childhood friend who has agreed to sacrifice herself for the greater good. Aluche finds it hard to stomach the idea of allowing someone she cares about so much to sacrifice herself, so she starts down an adventure to try and find a way to defeat the oppressive evil facing them without losing Liliana in the process.

If you played the first title, you likely find yourself recognizing a lot of familiar narrative notes here. It works, because the relationship of the main characters helps to carry the story, but it is a story that with a handful of exceptions along the way, just borrows way too heavily from the first game.

The same can be said of the game's overall quest structure. We again find our characters residing in a safe haven amidst considerable chaos, and when you depart the hotel, you are not only combating enemies but a countdown timer as well. One big change is that now we have an overarching timer as well, which means that your exploration attempts are finite. I admit to having done a ton of grinding and short runs out into the world that this new system restricts me from doing this time around. That being said, this is not a very punitive timer and it fits in just fine with the storyline as the adventure needs to reach its conclusion before the moon's final phase. As someone who spent a great deal of time grinding, I can appreciate Gust's attempt to give Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon a bit more of a sense of pacing than the original entry. Personally, I understand and am generally in favor of this change, but I will admit that there were a handful of times I felt just a bit rushed by it as well as it flies in the face of my usually grind-heavy approach to RPGs.

When one thinks of action-RPGs, they tend to reflect on titles like Diablo, and while Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon does share some elements with games like that, the systems at play here have a fair amount of depth to them. The meat of Aluche's progress comes in the form of Servans. Think of them as tameable creatures that you can grow and use in combat in a variety of ways. One of my favorite aspects of the first game was coming up with a functional, versatile selection of Servans to take out into the battlefield, and that still remains one of the main draws in this title. A little extra strategy is provided in picking one of handful of NPC companions who will accompany Aluche on her adventure. All of these variables - some that you have direct control over while others you do not - help to keep combat from getting boring, even if - similar to the first game - it is not terribly difficult.

I really enjoyed the first game's campaign structure, and I'm happy to see that Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon went back to that well here in breaking down the game into chapters, while providing you with plenty of optional side quests to partake in along the way as well. Where I would have liked to see some growth is in the type and variety of these additional minions, which have not developed much from the original game's selection of basic fetch and kill X critter Y number of time quests. Thankfully one of the new mechanics I was fond of - improving my relationship with the character I chose to accompany Aluche - works pretty well and is a welcome addition to the formula.

In terms of presentation, I can best describe this title as 'more of the same' - which is generally a good thing. I enjoyed the visual style and the art direction of the original game, and Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon offers more of the same. Monsters are creative, the environments range from solid to beautiful and there is a very stylish take on the smatterings of blood and hues used throughout the game. The music is also fantastic. I really enjoyed the original title's soundtrack, and Nights of Azure 2's music is just as good. If there is one knock on the presentation, it is that the dialog can be a little awkward and clumsy at times - whether this is due to the actual writing or the localization, I'm not sure. Additionally, newcomers to the series might find the introductory period a bit lacking in terms of tutorial depth. I recalled having learned a lot about the game's systems in the original title in subsequent chapters, and while I was able to approach this sequel from a place of familiarity, I can't help but wonder if new players might not struggle the same way initially.

All in all I can still recommend Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon to fans of the original title or just those who like anime-styled action-RPG games. The various systems at play throughout work well with one another, and the end result is still a very good game. I think perhaps Gust could have taken a few more chances with the formula both from a narrative and gameplay standpoint, but I enjoyed Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon all the same. Hopefully we will see more games in the series, and a few more risks in the future if that is the case.

Despite somewhat awkward dialog now and again, the cast of characters are both quirky and charming and invested me in their story. That is a good thing, because the narrative revisits a lot of the first game's themes, which I enjoyed then and enjoyed now - but the theme of overly familiar notes returns here as well. I did really enjoy the new companion (even if it comes at a cost to both the number of Servans and their transformations this time around), and it helps this sequel stand shoulder to shoulder with its predecessor.

Game Information

PlayStation 4
Koei Tecmo Games
Single Player
Other Platform(s):

Provided by Publisher

Article by Nick


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