Nights of Azure is an Action RPG for the PS4 (although there is a PS3 and Vita version only in Japan) developed by Gust and published by Koei Tecmo Games. It was first released in Japan on October 1 2015, while the American and European versions were released on March 29, and April 1 2016 respectively.
The story follows Arnice, a half-human half demon hybrid who serves the Curia, an organization responsible for fulfilling the ritual that involves sacrificing a “Saint” to cure the endless nights that befell on Rusewall Island, the place in which this game takes place. The endless nights were caused by a certain monster who spilled out “Blue Blood” which polluted the humans and turns them into demons. With best friend Lilysse chosen to be the Saint, Arnice’s role is to protect her and making sure the ritual is carried out. While Arnice does fight demons and mythical monsters to progress to different areas, she also meets people that, one way or another, aid her in her journey. She also tackles her own problems and feelings towards her best friend, and debates about whether to save her, or save the world instead.
I personally liked Arnice as a protagonist (the strong, badass and protective type) but didn’t particularly enjoyed the others who join along for the ride. Lilysse is more annoying than cute / funny and the guy characters are one-trick ponies (one of them is a researcher who constantly hits on Arnice, and gets rejected. Another is a guy who loves treasure and money more than anything. And finally, there is a guy who acts sort of like a butler / guide, but he actually has more personality than the first two guys mentioned, so I didn’t mind him too much).
The game tends to present you with a lot of pointless dialogue and banter between the different characters. I get that they wanted to input some humour and quirkiness into the game but it gets repetitive extremely quickly and some of it is not even funny at all.
Excluding post-game content it is relatively short, taking anywhere between 10-20 hours if you know what you’re doing but chances are some of that time will be spent in the arena, and focusing on customization of your characters.
The gameplay features real-time combat with the ability to summon monsters called Servans. Each Servan is different but generally fall into one of three categories: Offense, Defense and Support. The game’s customization comes mainly from the amount and types of Servan collected. Unfortunately there’s only around 20 or so to collect so you won’t be likely to waste time trying to get them all; most should come naturally to you as the game progresses.
As for Arnice she starts off weak but by collecting Blue Blood, she can use it to power herself up unlocking new combat skills, utility abilities such as equipment slots, more quests and deck slots (to be able to bring more Servans) , and new weapons. This is the only way to level her up, while the Servans gain experience simply by defeating monsters.
The game is primarily quest based with a bit of a exploration aspect added as well. Fortunately these quests are straightforward, either getting to a certain place and forcing the event to happen, or eventually defeating a monster / boss… others include simply talking to characters and witnessing what happens.
Aside from that, there is an arena that contains various missions that test your skills.
As for the game’s setting, I liked the modern European style landscape they were going for, mixed in with the usage of fantasy and supernatural as well. The character designs are nicely detailed (along with dem breast physics). Be warned that there is a bit of fanservice as well (Arnice wears some loose lingerie for some parts of the game and there are some funny camera angles in some scenes). I also liked some of the boss designs. Honestly the game looks great for a lower-than-usual budget JRPG (iirc this was one of Gust’s rushed titles).
The music is also probably one of the better aspects of the game. You got a couple of piano pieces, fast-paced music for the battle aspects, orchestral-type pieces as well… it really manages to fit in along with the game’s setting and suits each aspect of the game nicely.
I enjoyed the game for what it was but it really isn’t much more than that. It’s basically get to one point to another, fight some bosses, backtracking… and going through some pointless dialogue. The story isn’t too interesting, being relatively cliche (save your friend or save the world), and a yuri romance story. The graphics are fine for a PS4 game. It uses the night-time atmosphere and setting pretty well, the skills and spell effects are colourful. I like the different monster and bosses designs, It runs consistently at 60FPS which is great. The combat is fun enough and I like using the many Servans collected throughout the game, able to make some interesting combinations.
Sadly, I got mine for $80 AU which is pretty expensive for a game like this. Not really worth it, so get it if you find it at a cheaper price. However it is also a game that can be skipped entirely.