- Publisher: KOEI TECMO America
- Developer: GUST Studios
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC
- Reviewed on: PlayStation 4 Pro
The original Nights of Azure quickly found a special place in my heart so I was very happy to hear that its sequel was coming to North America. Now after two playthroughs of Nights of Azure 2, I can say that GUST Studios has created another really cool game that will unfortunately be held back from true greatness due to a few flaws.
NOA2 takes place in a fictional, 19th century European city that is plagued by demons. Our heroine Aluche is an agent tasked with hunting these creatures and she starts the adventure by meeting up with a woman that has been charged with being sacrificed to protect the world from the dreaded Moon Queen. Upon meeting the young woman, Aluche realizes that person to be sacrificed is her childhood friend Liliana. Aluche is slain while she is escorting Liliana and awakens as half-demon thanks to a little scientific intervention. With her new powers and allies that she meets throughout her adventure, Aluche must gain enough strength to defeat the Moon Queen to save her friend from being sacrificed and keep the world from being engulfed in eternal darkness.
While this is arguably a pretty cool plot point for a video game, it also represents the game’s first problem. This is the exact same plot of the first game albeit with new characters. Now it is understood that in this game world that a young woman must be sacrificed in order to keep the Moon Queen imprisoned and that this story takes place when it needs to happen again so it isn’t a deal breaker. It would have been nice however to see a little more originality for the opening moments of the sequel. The good thing is that the rest of the story that develops from this is solid, quirky and entertaining.
The game is split into several areas that you unlock over the course of the adventure and a hotel that you stay in that serves as your base of operations so to speak. More on the hotel in a bit. Your main mission is to prevent the Moon Queen from fully eclipsing the moon which will create a world without light. Adding another layer of challenge is the fact that the game is timed. As you take on quests in each of the games locations you have to manage two time management systems. The first is that you have a set time to explore, battle and complete quests each day. Once that time runs out you are returned to the hotel where you can level up your stats (including how much time you have to fight each day) using blue blood collected from slaying monsters. You can also relax while there and pick up side quests but once back in the hotel you cannot just head out to another location. In order to leave again you have to go to your room and sleep. This advances time by one day. It also causes the moon to eclipse by one phase. A fully eclipsed moon = game over. The moon can be partially or even fully restored by defeating a boss and completing chapters.
Another strategic aspect to the gameplay are Servans that make a return from the first game. These creatures can be rescued from various locations and will fight by your side. Each Servan has unique abilities such as being able to breathe fire, transform into weapons or carry you to otherwise unreachable places. Some areas of the game cannot be reached unless you have a certain Servan in your party (you can have two with you at a time) so it is a really good idea to seek them out and collect as many as possible while you are out exploring. Servans can also be leveled up and evolved at the hotel.
The original Nights of Azure had players battle with just their Servans as companions. This time around you can also take another party member along with you. Depending on who you choose, you gain access to different special abilities and devastating super moves so it pays to experiment and see which party member compliments your play style. Combat is also affected by the Servans you have in your party and since some can become weapons the flow of combat can change dramatically. It really pays to explore using Servan weapons because although the entire game can be played through with your default weapon, the hack and slash combat can get repetitive quickly.
Nights of Azure 2 manages to entertain throughout despite feeling like an enhanced remake of the original in some aspects. Some improvements in the plot and a bit more combat variety would have gone a long way to bringing this game to a bigger audience but fans of the original will definitely love diving back into this world for another adventure.
Final Score: 7.75/10