Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon is a 3rd person action RPG from Koei Tecmo’s Gust division. The game features a unique Gothic horror style and a much faster paced combat than most RPGs, with a focus on combos, minion ability’s, and double team skills with your companion.
My favorite part of Nights of Azure 2 was its unique blend of horror styling, such as vampires and demons, and JRPG tropes, such as very anime-like characters and story. In it you play as Aluche as she looks to save her longtime friend Liliana, and stop the Moon Queen from forcing the world into a perpetual night, where the demons thrive.
Along the way Aluche recruits a nice cast of characters, each with their own affinities, moves and tag team moves, and mini-stories with Aluche. While the story had a tendency to feel predictable and typical at times, I absolutely fell in love with the characters, and even though they weren’t terribly deep, I enjoyed spending the time to learn more about them.
Along with the companions, called Lilies, Aluche brings with her two demon companions, called Servans. These Servans give her new magic style abilities, as well as granting her access to new weapons. Certain Servans also allow Aluche to get behind barriers blocking her from shortcuts or treasure, but the catch is you can’t change them once in a mission so you must decide beforehand what you plan to do.
This all ties in to the main component of the game, a countdown timer of the moon, that darkens a little every time you rest after a mission. Each time you go on a mission, or Hunt, you have a set time limit on the map that increases as you level or buy new skills, and then after you must rest in bed which brings the moon slightly closer to being permanently dark.
This was an interesting mechanic, and I felt it was used effectively as it forced me to plan out my missions and what I wanted to do, but I never felt like the game didn’t give me enough time as it would add time for each major story boss you defeat.
It also kept the game flowing at a brisk pace, as there wasn’t too much side content making the game feel grindy, but I was still able to do enough side missions to raise my affinity with a character to its max. Throughout the whole game I felt engaged with the story because of its relatively speedy pacing, at least compared to some other RPGs.
Of course as an RPG it contains leveling of elements, with Aluche, the Lilies and Servans leveling separately. Aluche levels by banking blue blood gained from defeating enemies, Lilies level as you kill enemies together, and Servans level using points gained from completing quests. All the differing leveling mechanics felt fairly deep, with Aluche having an extensive skill tree, Lilies gaining new skills as you complete affinity quests, and Servans having an evolution mechanic.
An issue I had however was in the combat, which at times could feel pretty shallow and repetitive. It was alleviated later on when I had a good amount of different Servans to mix and match between to add some diversity to the combat, but early on it can feel somewhat dull.
Another issue I had was in the level design, it looks decent at first, but the game will send you back to the same areas multiple times usually, and they start to feel lacking in variety over time. Although levels contained some secret areas, the rewards usually weren’t too compelling to make retreading through levels to feel worth it.
I played the Switch version of the game, and there was a bit of performance issues that came with this version. Occasionally during combat, I noticed some framerate dropping while it was docked. It was always very noticeable however, and it didn’t really affect combat all that much.
Playing it handheld however I noticed some significant drops in performance during combat. Framerates dropped frequently, and noticeably chugged along at times, so anyone that plays on the Switch I would not recommend playing it handheld if you can help it.
Despite that I found Nights of Azure 2 to be a fun experience, with a wonderful mix of my two favorite things, horror and JRPGs. The combat is fast, and while shallow at the start, it begins to deepen as you unlock more Lilies and Servans to use.
The story isn’t the best I have ever seen in a game, but its characters make up for that as I loved learning about them and seeing how their friendship with Aluche develops. Although it suffers from some issues on the Switch version, and it has a penchant for repetitiveness at times, Nights of Azure 2 is a solid experience worth playing for fans of the genre. 7/10 with Switch issues, 7.5/10 without them.
Want to see more? You can check out some gameplay on our Youtube channel here.
*This review is based on the Switch version of the game, it is also available on PS4 and PC*