Developer: KOEI TECMO

Publisher: KOEI TECMO

Release Date: 24th October

Price as of Article: $59.99 US (buy), £42.99 UK (buy)

Story

The dreaded moon queen has returned and demons roam causing terror at night. you are Aluche a Knight of the Curia – the organisation that exists to stop the moon queen taking over the world and thrusting it into perpetual night. After the demon lord was stopped some time before this game his blue blood came into contact with people, animals and objects turning them into demons.

Your first task is to escort you’re childhood friend Lilianna, a priest of the Curia to the their headquarters and after a short trip you arrive. Once there it turns out she is the moon bride, the one destined to be sacrificed in order to lock away the Moon Queen. The plan doesn’t quite pan out, she is kidnapped by the Moon Queen and you are killed. Luckily for you though you are revived as a half-demon and the story begins – you and another of your childhood friends Ruenheid set about trying to save Lilianna and are drawn into a tale that unfolds with some hidden twists and turns.

The story is revealed over the course of the game through fulfilling main quests with additional backstory being revealed during side quests. The story is quite predictable as you might expect from a Musou style game though the Japanese voice acting seems rather good and the tale that unfolds is engaging in a passive sort of way.

nights of azure 2 bride of the new moon

High heels are of course classic poolside attire….

Where the story does lack is in some of its interactions between the lead characters, Aluche is joined over time by 7 other female characters known as lilies and her interactions with them follow the Yuri style which  translates to lily and is known for its female love stories and mild lesbian interactions, whilst some manga and other games turn this into something engrossing, Aluche seems to be shyly flirting with each character and the story feels forced into situations that lead to these types of scenes on purpose such as swimming in basically no clothes and bumping into each other breasts first. Whilst these interactions feel like they will lead to a love engagement they never do and you don’t learn a whole lot in these interactions as they don’t delve much deeper than these surface interactions.

Audio

The soundtrack here is pleasing on the ears, the main theme song is repeated throughout quite a large number of areas and came become a little repetitive but the song itself is in my opinion quite good. When heading into different areas there are some additional background songs that suit the locations and the sound effects are gratifying when slashing away.

Visuals

The characters are drawn really well and each Lily as well as the Servans and Aluche herself have a unique look. The mobs whilst not hugely varied are interesting and follow the theme of demons well ranging from raging beasts to sirens and imps.

Movement lets characters down, the way mobs and your characters move around lacks finesse and the maps have a very noticeable restriction around them – areas that you would expect to be able to walk over or interact with are simply off limits.

The bosses are big and flashy and feel like they have had more time spend in development that the general mobs.

One of the issues for me visually is the similarity of dark shades everywhere due to the everlasting night that has descended on the city. It makes the game feel quite drab.

Perfomance wise the game had no issues on a TV but I was surprised to see some performance dips on the go, when you consider we know the console can handle much more arduous tasks such as Super Mario Odysseyor DOOMthis seems more like an issue with porting and coding for the system by the developer.

Gameplay

At its core Nights of Azure 2 is a hack and slash Musou or Dynasty Warriors game with JPRG elements such as levelling up, spells and a party system. You control Aluche and have access to heavy and light attacks which you can string together to generate combos that get into the hundreds in order to slay mobs in a mapped area. You are joined by a Lily – effectively a second character that you can set a broad task to using the D-Pad such as protect you, attack freely or attack the same enemy that you have selected by using the right analog stick to target. By slashing together you get to perform a combo attack and each Lily has a different skill, some are long range attackers, others get up close to the action and others are more supporting. Once you charge up a secondary bar by working together you get an even more devastating combo that can slay most enemies outright.nights of azure 2 combo

In addition to a Lily you also get joined by two servans which are demons that are not mindless and are not quite evil. These pet like companions fight alongside you and have a skill that can be triggered with a push of ZL or ZR. The servans are a cool addition to the game and some of them have use outside of battle by unlocking areas using their abilities such as fire to burn through a thorny bush blocking your path.

As you progress you will gain blue demon blood that you can purify to stop you turning full zombie style demon and use to level you up, for some reason this process involves wearing a very skimpy outfit! This process unlocks points which are then used to develop your skill tree, the system is quite basic with skills such as increasing attack power with certain weapon types and increasing gold rate drops.

Gold can be used to buy equipment and later on you can combine items to strengthen them further, your Lilies can also wear equipment and become stronger as they level up. Your Servans can also level up and can even evolve to become stronger versions. Whilst all of this detail is great none of it felt particularly necessary and ultimately doesn’t much affect combat which comes down to hack and slash with the exception of bosses which require some more tactical play.

All of these actions and upgrades are dealt with at the Hotel which becomes your base of operations. From here you set out each night on a mission moving to a map which you can explore and delve further into to reach portals that act as checkpoints helping you get to an area faster and fast travel around the map.

To keep things moving along and add an element of thrill to the game there are two time limits on your heels – the first is that you can only stay outside on a mission for a certain amount of time that starts out at 10 minutes. As you level up and get stronger this time limit is increased letting you get further in a map. This system makes you plan out each day though it doesn’t often get in the way of completing a mission.

The second is a lunar style time limit, each night passed reduces the azure moon phase by a sliver and if you ever reach full coverage the game is over and perpetual night would take over the world.

Slaying a boss or progressing the story a certain amount with recoup some portion of the moon buying you more time. The system does work quite well and forces you to progress the story at a fair pace.

Controls wise the game performs fairly well except for a few annoying camera angles at times however I did notice a poor oversight by the developers that led to some frustration. Default actions on the Switch use A to progress whereas a PS4 pad uses X (in the position of B). I believe this is the reason that some actions progress with A on the Switch as a Default and others use B, whatever the cause this simple issue leads to an annoying issue which could have been avoided quite easily.

Unfortunately you are often revisiting the same maps and slaying the same mobs, quests consist of go here and kill this. Very few variances are around and most of the game pans out in this visit a map, slay some stuff, go to sleep, level up and do it again pattern which does lose its charm fairly quickly.

value

The game does offer a chunky campaign and with a new game plus mode you could potentially put in 40+ hours here, there are a lot of Servans and you can spend a lot of time with each Lily to increase your affinity with them unlocking additional story and costumes which serve as fan service. There is however a lot of repetition and at a full retail cost of £42 GBP or $59.99 USD its hard to justify the spend for any outside of those who love this style of game.