PC Reviews

Nights of Azure Review – Dark, Intense, Deceptively Complex

(Nights of Azure, Koei Tecmo)

On March 29th, 2016 Gust released Nights of Azure on Playstation 3, Playstation 4, and Playstation Vita. I have been a fan of Gust’s games for a while (particularly the Atelier series) but this is one I previously missed out on. Thankfully, Gust has released Nights of Azure on Steam, making it available for PC gamers worldwide. Nights of Azure is a more action-oriented title than the Atelier series, but still, offers Gust’s standard RPG gameplay.

Nights of Azure takes on a darker tone and puts you in the roles of Arnice and Lilysse, a Knight and Priestess that are attempting to rid the kingdom of Ruswal from the azure blooded demons that plague it. Their journey is put to the test when they discover that saving the island may not be as easy as simply killing demons. I was originally (when I started working on this review) disappointed by the fact that despite the Steam Store page saying that there was full audio in English for Nights of Azure, there are no options to switch away from the Japanese voice acting. This error on the Steam Store page has been fixed, and now it is clearly advertised that there is not full audio in English. I personally find Japanese voice acting to be distracting, but for those who prefer it to English dubbing, Nights of Azure may be more appealing to you without the English voice acting. It is great to know that Gust and Koei Tecmo were willing to fix the mistakes made prior to launch, both with this issue, and the issue I had with gamepad support.

(Nights of Azure, Koei Tecmo)

(Nights of Azure, Koei Tecmo)

Combat in Nights of Azure plays out in real time, allowing you to fight alongside creatures called Servans, which have all sorts of applications. Servans can fight alongside you, provide support, or provide any number of applications. Using your Servan allies uses SP, which needs to be carefully managed as it is also how you utilize many of your other combat capabilities. Servans can also choose to utilize assist abilities, however you have no control over when they will use these special abilities. Often they can be used to get you out of a pinch, but it isn’t wise to rely on them in case you are unlucky and your servan chooses not to assist you.

Servans also have special abilities that Arnice can command them to use, whether it is a stronger attack, a support buff, or healing, it is up to you to pick and choose how you invest your SP usage. Getting to a difficult battle with no SP left can pretty much mean certain death at later points in Nights of Azure. Luckily, scattered across every level, you can open treasure chests which may contain health or SP restoratives, as well as Libra (Nights of Azure’s currency system.)

Returning to the Ende Hotel provides you with multiple mechanics and functionality options. The Hotel is where you can automatically restore the HP and SP of Arnice and her Servans. You can also buy equipment and items using the Libra you have collected during your adventures. The Hotel is also where you save and load your game, as well as equip relics to Arnice and her Servans.  Relics are accessories that provide passive bonuses to your Servans. Some relics reduce cooldowns or reduce the SP it costs Arnice to summon a servan. Other relics provide passive stat increases that can make your servans more effective.

(Nights of Azure, Koei Tecmo)

At the Hotel, you can also use the Actualize command to recruit new Servans to your party using “Fetishes.” You can find Fetishes by killing enemies, exploring environments and completing quests. By recruiting new Servans you can expand your combat capabilities, and make a party that is better suited for your play style.

Relics can drop off of enemies, while equipment for Arnice is sold at the Hotel, with more equipment options becoming available over time. Arnice has the ability to utilize combo attacks by stringing weak and strong attacks together. Her capabilities also include guarding and dodging, which makes her hack and slash methods simple to learn yet somewhat difficult to master right off the bat. The most difficult aspect of mastering Arnice’s capabilities lies in learning when to call out a certain servan, and when to use its abilities to allow efficient and maximum effectiveness.

You can also issue commands to your summoned servan by using the directional pad (if using a gamepad) in order to tell it to fight what Arnice is targeting, follow Arnice, or heal itself by drinking the blood of fallen enemies. I greatly recommend using a gamepad with Nights of Azure, considering the game was designed for a console. However, there are keyboard and mouse controls available should you wish to focus more on them instead.

Blood is a currency in Nights of Azure that is used to not only level up Arnice throughout the game but also is used at half-demon shops as a substitute for Libra. Nights of Azure is deceptively complex; it starts out seeming (like most Gust games) fairly straightforward, but as you take on quests and begin strengthening your servans and Arnice’s capabilities, things begin to grow more and more complex.

(Nights of Azure, Koei Tecmo)

(Nights of Azure, Koei Tecmo)

I ran into a problem with the gamepad support that caused the gamepad controls to change themselves in such a way that I had difficulty even using the controls. While recent updates since I started my review claim to have fixed this issue, I wound up having to use information provided on the Steam discussion board for Nights of Azure in order to fix it myself. It is unlikely that you will encounter the same issue, but it is important that you are aware of it in the event that the bug does resurface.

The Steam version of Nights of Azure also contains a new map and episode of DLC content that the console version did not receive for free. Additionally, Steam users also get Gust, a special servan from the Hyperdimension Neptunia series.

Nights of Azure is a deceptively simple game on the surface but the deeper in you go, the more you’ll find that will keep you coming back for more. I had a hard time getting into the story due to the lack of English voice acting, but the gameplay was engrossing and entertaining enough that it became easy to ignore that language barrier.

If you like Gust’s other titles, or if you’re just craving a dark, beautiful action RPG then give Nights of Azure a try. Nights of Azure is definitely a departure from the types of games I am used to seeing Gust create, yet I think that it is a look and design that greatly fits their style.  Nights of Azure is a well polished, smooth action RPG that will challenge new players, and fans of Gust’s games alike.

A Steam Product Key for Nights of Azure was Provided by Koei Tecmo for the Purpose of this Review

Nights of Azure

Nights of Azure
80

Score

8/10

    Pros

    • Complex combat and party mechanics
    • Dark and engrossing story
    • Smooth action-RPG mechanics
    • Deep customization and growth

    Cons

    • No English voice acting
    • Somewhat inconsistent Difficulty

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