Thursday, 02 November 2017 07:38

Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon / よるのないくに2 ~新月の花嫁~ Review

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Need a quick break from hunting? Just roam around the hotel and interact with others, or chill beside the indoor pool.

Nights of Azure 2 is a hack-and-slash-styled JRPG that, at the outset, follows a similar storyline to its prequel. The Curia requires a sacrifice — Liliana — to stave off the never-ending night and seal away the power of the Moon Queen. The main character, Aluche, strives to protect the chosen sacrifice, albeit Liliana believes that her sacrifice shall save the world. Ruenheid operates under the Lourdes Order, which opposes the Curia, as a Holy Knight and likewise wishes to protect her friend, Liliana.

After the prologue and tutorial, you find yourself lying atop a coffin-shaped table, and Camilla informs you that the Moon Queen pierced your heart, effectively killing you. Now, Aluche is half-demon — a transformation wrought by mixing the Blue Blood into her system. Specifically, the blood of Arnice, the protagonist of the first entry in this series. Your first mission is to rescue Liliana, mimicking your first task in the prequel. Camilla is your assistant here; you gain other assistants, or Lilies, along the way. A short while into this mission, you come across a cat named Nero, to which Aluche can communicate. Nero is your first servan. These partners fight alongside you and have skills which deplete MP when used (MP for them replenishes over time). Likewise, you have leader skills that utilize MP and act as a support buff for your allies: from increasing attack or defense to restoring HP or MP. Before embarking on a hunt, you may have only one Lily and two servans with you. You may only change these while at the hotel.

This hotel acts as a base and is more luxurious than the one in NoA. Need a quick break from hunting? Just roam around the hotel and interact with others, or chill beside the indoor pool. It’s when you venture into the bedroom the first time that Ruenheid shows herself to possess an inscrutable personality. She’s surprised at Aluche’s suggestion that the two should sleep together, but seems equally upset when Aluche dismisses the idea and replies with “see if I care!”. Perhaps she’s bit of a tsundere.

Certain rooms, such as the maintenance room, are locked upon your arrival but are available once you progress more. This room (the maintenance room) is where you may offer blood, which you obtain from defeating fiends, to level Aluche, which grants ability points. You may also learn new abilities and train your servans here. There are three trees, each full with boosts, ranging from increased attack output, to chance to burn the enemy, to an additional equipment slot. Learning the first Hunt Time Up crashed the application; an autosave function would prove helpful in this situation. After reloading my most recent save, even sleeping crashed the application. Fortunately, this wasn’t a frequent problem the following day.

Camilla pokes fun at you after you revive with a coy but concerned “you sure got your ass handed to you.” She has proof: she was there, and I sure did.

You may strengthen your servans using servan points, which you obtain from quests. Each servan has a maximum level. Once you level one to its limit, you can reincarnate it to reset its status but increase its level cap. There are four different stats you can level: HP, MP, attack, and special attack. Increasing the level of any of these counts toward its total level, but you needn’t plan its growth carefully. The sum of the max level for each of these four parameters equals the max level of the servan — to which servan you want to allocate your points, given that you acquire them from quests, is a more pressing question. The amount of points you need to increase the level of a parameter raises each time you level that parameter. You need only one point for the first time you level, but four the next time, and then ten, and so on.

Lilies, such as Ruenheid and Camilla, level by gaining XP through battle. The more you play alongside a lily, the more the affinity with that character increases. At certain milestones, new requests from that person become available. You may equip a lily with two items initially. There’s a multitude of different combo attacks you may utilize with your lily — combat is always lively and engaging.

Once I saw that a day passes when you sleep, I assumed that there’d be a time limit — and, indeed, there is. Deadlines of this sort are a staple in Atelier titles (with Sophie as the exception). If too many days pass such that the moon wanes to a new moon, it’s game over. Each day wanes the moon just a little, but it’d be helpful if the status of the moon displayed how many more days are left. However, Aluche warns you at intervals when the new moon is too close. I often keep multiple saves for games with such a deadline, but there’s also an option to restart the chapter from the beginning. Once you defeat a massive fiend and clear the chapter, the moon phase reverts. Once you start the second chapter, you have access to subquests. You may complete subquests at any time, but those from the Curia don’t carry over into the subsequent chapter.

You may hunt at night for only ten minutes, but leveling increases this time limit by ten seconds per level. There are abilities you may learn that increase this limit even further. As the enemies early on aren’t difficult, exploring an area becomes an exercise in killing as much as possible while remaining efficient. That said, you’re likely to have around four minutes or more by the time you reach the first boss, if you rush. The boss, Joe, is noticeably harder than the enemies — quite a difficulty jump. Whereas I’d breeze through the area before the boss, I did not survive the boss. If you pay attention to attack cues and keep a far distance away, you’ll likely survive. The subsequent bosses didn’t pose as much of a challenge.

Fortunately, not only does the time limit cease when facing bosses, but also, if you die, you’re transported back to the hotel and keep the libra and blood you’ve gained. Your lily also retains XP. So, there doesn’t seem much of a penalty for dying, except for the fact that you must wait until the next day to hunt, and there are only so many days in a chapter. You could always play it safe by not facing the boss yet and grind for libra, XP, and blood on this run, then try the boss another night. Camilla pokes fun at you after you revive with a coy but concerned “you sure got your ass handed to you.” She has proof: she was there, and I sure did.


The Verdict

Playing the prequel to this release isn’t required to enjoy this title, although is helpful when it comes to the plot, as this release references that title’s story and characters. The impending new moon deadline to each chapter and consequently, a game over, instills stress and a sense of urgency (especially when some maps have mini-puzzles), but the deadline never felt too strict. I had time to venture around and complete side-quests. The only issues were crashes, and occasionally, the game’s reluctance to recognize my controller after launching the application. If you enjoy the series or hack-and-slash RPGs and don’t mind a deadline, Nights of Azure 2 is a must.

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Chris Hubbard

A fan of RPGs above other genres, Chris has been playing video games for as long as he can remember. Some of the games that had the most influence on his gaming preferences have been the Final Fantasy and the Diablo series. More recently, most of Chris' gaming time has been going toward Gems of War and Clicker Heroes (give it a try, it can be addicting), along with open-world RPGs such as Skyrim and ESO. He's also dabbled with RPG Maker software, and it is a goal of his to someday create an RPG.