Koei Tecmo’s role-playing game Nights of Azure was released in North America on March 29th for PlayStation 4. The game offers a unique gaming experience with a darker storyline than developer GUST (Atelier and Ar Tonelico series) is known for. Here’s a first impression of Nights of Azure, a full review of the game will be coming soon.
Set in an alternate-history filled with magic and mystery Nights of Azure follows the story of two friends fighting against all odds to defend the world from darkness. Lilysse is a priestess with a caring heart and powerful divine skill. Arnice is the protagonist of the piece and is a half-demon knight tasked with fighting frightening monsters.
The story and art (presented with somewhat dated looking graphics) are all very reminiscent of an anime in a trite but pleasantly familiar sort of way. The trope filled plot may not be very original but as players will also encounter interesting gameplay. Gameplay isn’t exactly novel but combines many different mechanics for an experience that feels fresh and new.
Players find themselves stuck on the small island of Ruswal that has been overrun with dangerous monsters. During the night Arnice will venture out to different areas around the island that will be unlocked as you progress through the story. During the day you retreat to a hotel where you can interact with NPC’s, compete in the battle arena, accept quests, shop etc. The game is split up into different phases during which different actions can be taken. The different phases can be confusing at first but the game does a good job of explaining everything.
During the night phase when Arnice can leave the hotel and slay nasty beasts is certainly the most engaging as well as the most challenging. Nights of Azure has an interesting mechanic in which getting through a level is timed. The level design is labyrinth-esque with branching paths and a single end point with monsters and loot scattered throughout. Players will have to get to the objective within the time limit, demanding that players choose what paths they want to explore and pushes you to try to clear the entire dungeon as fast as possible.
Boss battles are not timed but the lack of pressure is compensated for with a ramp up in difficulty. Combat is a departure from what GUST has tried in previous games. Combat is real-time and action based. Your party is made up of demons called Servans that can be summoned and given commands during combat. Burst attacks and chain attacks make a comeback from previous GUST titles and Arnice can also transform into a variety of more powerful forms for a limited time based on what Servans she has in her party.
There is a lot to keep track of in combat which is part of what makes it challenging. Not only do you need to land attacks, dodge enemy blows and chain attacks together, players need to give commands to their other party members and keep an eye on their health bars. All the variety gives players a lot of options in combat to master.
To start, the game is deceptively simple; jumping right into the story and introducing some basic hack n’ slash mechanics in a quick tutorial. Throughout the first chapter, more plot points and mechanics will be introduced revealing how much more complex Nights of Azure really is. The combination of different elements in the game like timed dungeons, summoned party members, action based combat and different game phases is intriguing and gives the game a truly unique feel. From the start, you can see where the story is headed but it’s peppered with mystery and likable characters that make it interesting and enjoyable.
Nights of Azure is available on PS4 with a Teen rating from developer GUST and publisher Koei Tecmo. It can be purchased for $59.99. As of now, the game is challenging and unique with an intriguing combination of game mechanics and a story that is a little trite. A full review of Nights of Azure will be coming soon.
Nights of Azure was provided by the publisher and previewed on PlayStation 4.