Release date: 29th March 2016
The seal containing the Nightlord is weakening… And when the red moon becomes full, the Nightlord will fully awaken, covering the world in Eternal Night and humanity will perish. Only by sacrificing a Saint can the Nightlord be sealed once again. Will Arnice fight to save the world, or to save the life of a girl?
“But nobody can stop my arrival. Because… I am the Night.” – Nightlord
With the advent of Nights of Azure 2’s release later this year, we take a look at the game in which the story begins… When the Nightlord was defeated by the First Saint, and his Blue Blood rained upon the land, transforming those which it touches into fiends. From then on, whenever night falls, fiends emerge from the darkness and roam about, robbing humans of their night. You play as Arnice, and it is your duty as an agent of the Curia to defeat fiends and collect their blood.
A distinctive trait of this action RPG is the ability to summon Servans to your aid. Servans are essentially your servants in combat, performing a variety of actions, from healing you to raining fireballs upon your foes. They each have a unique “burst” skill which you can activate on command, allowing you to perform some sweet combos if you are able to play by their individual strengths. Notably, Servans say different phrases in different areas, which was a nice touch of detail. You obtain these Servans by finding their corresponding fetishes either through item drops when you slay fiends or by purchasing them from shops. At maximum, you may bring along four teams of four Servans with you.
Even though Nights of Azure is an action RPG, it is not in any way exceptional in its combat mechanics. You start off with the sword form of your weapon and gradually unlock more forms as you progress. While you can swap between each weapon form rather seamlessly to form long chains of attacks, there is a disappointing lack of variations in the combos for you to explore. You will eventually find a few bread and butter combos that you will stick to. Furthermore, there are transformations available when you have hit enemies enough. There are five different forms which are determined by the Servans you have in your party. While that sounds exciting, the new moves that you gain from the transformation are (sad to say) one-button-spams. There are basically no combos available, and you essentially mash one button over and over to deal as much damage as possible during the short duration of the transformation.
The only other notable aspect of this game is its narrative, some of which are backstories that you unlock as you progress. While there are some moments which are pretty hilarious and others which melt your heart, do not expect them to blow your mind away. That being said, the game has multiple endings for you to sink your teeth into. It is also part of the replay value of this game if you wish to unlock all the different endings. After completing the game initially, load up the same save file and you will receive new quests to complete. After beating the final boss again, you are then able to manually select which ending you would like to see… after defeating the final boss yet again.
As a RPG, interactive in-game breaks are not a foreign concept. However, there are portions of the game which are plagued with multiple cut-scenes separated by only a few steps from where the previous scene was. Not to mention that you are unable to skip any of these breaks at all, making the game feel long-winded at times. While the English subtitles are well translated, at the most final boss battle, where the bad-ass opening lines for each character are uttered no subtitles were given leaving a disappointing point to an otherwise (hopefully) engaging end.
The controls, represented by its default bindings, are awkward and would require you to re-bind them into a more playable fashion (a game-pad is highly recommended). It is also questionable as to why sprinting in the game is not a toggled action. Instead, Arnice sprints automatically after running for a certain distance, which makes for situations where you accidentally send her into a pit of fire due to the unexpected burst of speed. Last but not least, while out in the field, you only have a small mini-map to guide you. There is no easily accessible world map to point you in the right way, which makes for some unnecessary backtracking if you do get lost.
Nights of Azure is unfortunately a decent but plain action RPG. It does not excel in any of the aspects and qualities that make up a RPG. If you are looking for a good hack and slash game, this game will not satisfy that craving. The limited choices you have in the game does not make it an exceptional one either. However, if you are simply looking to take part in a Knight’s quest to save a damsel in distress, this game will do the trick. Hopefully the next game in the series will exceed expectations and succeed at what this game tried to achieve.
RATING: 6.5 out of 10