I’m not sure when it happened but, at some point, I became a big fan of Gust and their games. With Nights of Azure being their first new IP in a while, I was very excited to play it.
I’m glad that it feels so entirely like a Gust game whilst feeling nothing like the Atelier series, and it seems that Gust really do have a lot to offer in the world of games. Nights of Azure follows best friends Arnice, a holy knight working with the Curia who are working to bring an end to the eternal night, and Lilysse, a saint who’s willing to sacrifice herself to temporarily seal the Ruler of the Night away whilst Arnice works towards a permanent solution. The two have their close friendship strained with Arnice refusing to let Lilysse sacrifice herself, whilst she believes that it’s the best, and only, way to find relief in any form from the curse of the Ruler of the Night.
Nights of Azure delves deeper than the Atelier games do, showcasing Gust’s narrative talent with a darker, more thoughtful plot and character motivations that you can easily empathise with. The story, partially due to the gameplay, can sometimes feel a tad aimless and poorly paced but overall I enjoyed my time with it and it kept me guessing, encouraging me to continue to find out how the story will pan out and how it will end. It’s an IP I’d like to see more of and Gust have created a beautiful world with a colourful cast of characters, and they haven’t disappointed me.
Nights of Azure is, more or less, a hack and slash with RPG elements. If you’ve played Folklore on PS3 then you might already have an idea of what the combat is like, but otherwise you tackle areas with a 15 minute time limit – don’t worry, this is usually more than enough and there are checkpoints that allow you to return to the hotel and save – as you run around large areas fighting as Arnice along with four Servans – creature-like beings.
You can take more Servans with you but you’re only able to summon 4 at a time, and they each have different strengths and weaknesses where some will be better at healing, dealing damage or defending, and may be weak to a certain element. Square acts as your weak attack with triangle as you heavy, and hitting cross performs a special move. You’re able to command your Servans to attack by using the shoulder buttons and a corresponding face button, and you’re able to transform temporarily into a new form to become stronger. Utilising these together is the best way to deal damage as you’re able to combo several moves together, and doing so means you won’t be mashing square endlessly as some enemies take a long time to fall!
Nights of Azure isn’t a very difficult game but some battles can go on for quite a while, and ignoring what equipment you and you Servans have is a quick way to fall in battle. Much of your time will be spent fighting and exploring areas but there are side-quests and free time to mix things up a little, allowing you to briefly see what Arnice does during the day when she is fighting away the night. You’re able to talk to other people at the hotel and to your Servans to learn more about them and activate new side-quests, which range from finding an item to defeating a certain monster. There’s also an arena to partake in missions with specific conditions which is great for gaining experience.
Nights of Azure isn’t only a new IP for Gust – it’s also their first game on PS4. The art style is as gorgeous as you’d expect and although the art shines much more brightly than the graphics themselves, I don’t have anything bad to say here. I love the character and enemy designs, the world feels as if it’s rich in fantasy and history, and the variety of areas kept things exciting. The visuals are engrossing and Gust really do have a great team of artists behind it, who are able to create vibrant, lively worlds with fantastic characters time and time again, and their games just do a great job in making me smile.
I expected an English dub and I’m not going to lie but I wish there was one. Regardless, I understand that this is a new IP so spending out for an English dub, especially when the games target audience is likely happy to buy it with only the Japanese voice-over available, and so I don’t have an issue with it. The emotion, particularly between the two best friends, is praiseworthy and a joy to listen to, and I feel that the voice director and actresses worked hard to perform in a believable way. It’s Gust, so yes the OST is worth listening to! I was enamoured by the opening theme and found myself enjoying the music more as I heard more of it, and I certainly wouldn’t mind if the OST found its way into my hands someday.
Nights of Azure is lengthy, brimming with content and it’s another IP that Gust can place under their belt and know that they’ve been steadily building a name for themselves that more people should be aware of. If you’re looking for a solid story with a fascinating world, wonderful characters and something to really sink your teeth into, then you should check Nights of Azure out whether or not you’re familiar with Gust. Vita owners may be disappointed that Koei Tecmo skipped the platform in the West, but that shouldn’t turn you away from the PS4 version if you’re able to play it – it’s worth it.
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