When Nights of Azure was announced, I was ecstatic to see Gust branching out into IP that isn’t Atelier (as much as I love that series) and I dug the new aesthetic they were going for. Nights of Azure 2 takes everything I loved about the first game and improves upon it, delivering a sequel which feels much more focused and refined.
Nights of Azure 2 takes places long after the events of its predecessor and follows a new cast of characters. Similar to the first game, Curia agent Aluche is searching for a way to take down the Moon Queen so that her dear friend, Liliana, doesn’t need to be sacrificed. The eternal night is threatening to engulf the world, and so time is of the essence to both find the Moon Queen and a way to defeat her. Unlike with Nights of Azure, the sequel has time constraints (although they’re very lax) where you need to defeat bosses to delay the incoming darkness.
A sequel which feels much more focused and refined.
The story is better presented here with cinematic cutscenes and less filler — the first game felt very specific in what you had to do to proceed, but it didn’t explain it very well. I found myself enjoying the story at a breezy pace here, stopping for the game’s many side-quests whenever I fancied.
Many of the side-quests are character specific and so you’ll want to switch out your ally character when you visit the hotel, and others are time-sensitive. You don’t need to tackle all of the side-quests, but I recommend going for a few for the blood to level up. Aluche and her Servans aren’t going to level themselves up! The gameplay in general feels a lot smoother and responsive here and, thankfully, there’s a jump button. The button layout means that you won’t be as likely to do something else by mistake, which is a big issue I had with the first game.
Each ally has affection for you, and if you take them out on missions then you can raise both their level and their affection for you. There’re six hearts to fill, and it’s pretty grindy to max out all of them – especially if you’re worried about the time limit. I enjoy the scenes you get when someone’s affection for you grows, although I focused mostly on one character at a time — I wasn’t finishing this game with no max affection from anyone!
Allies have different strengths and weaknesses, and you’re able to utilise their unique skills and perform combos with them. If you focus on the same enemies and land multiple attacks in a row at the same time, then you can perform a powerful move which sees the pair of you team up for a massive area-of-effect attack. Servans also have unique abilities and you can only equip two instead of four this time around, but they’re much more useful and can allow you to reach high places, transform into weapons and burn or cut things that are blocking your path.
I found myself enjoying the story at a breezy pace here, stopping for the game’s many side-quests whenever I fancied.
As with all Gust games, Nights of Azure 2 boasts a gorgeous aesthetic which entertains every step of the way. Taking place primarily at night-time, Nights of Azure 2 has plenty of blacks, blues, purples and other dark colours to fit the game’s atmosphere. It doesn’t feel quite as bleak and oppressive as you’d expect from the overall narrative, but this is due to the colourful characters who look a little more optimistic than their surroundings.
There’s some fan-service thanks to the hotel’s swimming pool (and some scantily swimsuits) and a cast consisting mostly of girls, but I enjoyed many of the game’s yuri undertones and it’s focus on friendship and, though it’s slightly less focused on, romance. It’s a rather beautiful game both visually and in its narrative, and I’d love to see Gust explore this IP in a third game.
Yet again there’s no English dub, and yet again it’s not an issue. Nights of Azure, and Gust games in general, are very niche and so an English dub might work in drawing in a few more fans but would it really? Probably not. Gust has a dedicated fanbase, and chances are they, like me, will gobble up anything they put out. And why shouldn’t we? They’ve proven to be a consistently fantastic developer with a variety of unique IP.
I’m getting away from the point a little bit, but the Japanese voice-over is lively with text that’s easy on the eyes, and the soundtrack is catchy and fits the game’s night-time atmosphere — there’s a lot of piano, and there’s something magical and quaint about Nights of Azure 2‘s world – despite it’s current predicament – that the soundtrack captures.
There’s something magical and quaint about Nights of Azure 2‘s world.
Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon is a sequel which improves upon its predecessor in every way, with a greater focus on storytelling, improved visuals, and smoother gameplay with much more to experiment with. I enjoyed the first game a lot but if Gust are able to make this level of improvement in only one game, then I’d be excited to see if they’ll work on a third game. Gust have hit the right notes with me again and their games, as always, are a pleasure to play.
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