The follow-up to GUST’s original ARPG Nights of Azure, Bride of the New Moon is finally here. Returning to the dark Gothic world filled with demons, cruel gods and sexy knights, players will get to meet new characters and learn new gameplay mechanics in this standalone sequel. While the game is accessible to those that didn’t get a chance to play the original, it does reference its predecessor and contains spoilers for anyone thinking they might want to give the first game a play after finishing the new one.
Set in the same world as the first Nights of Azure, Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon has a whole new cast of characters playing out a story that closely echoes the one that came before it. Protagonist Aluche is a knight of the Curia (a religious organization that secretly works to keep the world order) tasked with protecting her best friend, the priestess Lilianna (sound familiar?). Aluche is killed in a battle with the Moon Queen and is revived as a half demon determined to carry out her duty and save the now missing priestess. To raise the stakes the world has been plunged into an eternal night filled with dangerous fiends and an azure moon is waxing leading up to a disastrous world-changing event. Although this plot is incredibly similar to the first, it lays all its cards on the table right at the start unlike the slowly unfolding mystery of the original. The intrigue instead comes from the bits of the story that are new this time around like the opposition to the Curia, the Lourdes Order, that hints at more twists and turns in the story to come.
The story fully embraces its Gothic horror tone adding a scientist character that experiments with demon blood and making the protagonist a full-blown vampire instead of a vaguely demonic woman. The vampirism adds to the erotic nature of the game as well as Aluche feeds on blood from the necks of her companions like a scene out of Vampire Knight. Skimpy outfits, pool scenes and playful quips about sharing beds round out the apparent sex appeal embedded in the game.
The story of Nights of Azure 2 is very similar to it’s predecessor however, there are more changes to be found in the gameplay. The basic mechanics of the game remain the same. Gameplay is separated into combat and non combat sections. Again a hotel serves as home base where players can level up and equip their characters, chat with NPC’s and save their game. Combat takes place during a nightly timed hunt where you venture out into the night to slay demons, gain experience points, money and make progress on quest objectives.
The biggest changes to the game can be found in the combat. The expanded cast of characters is accompanied by the addition of a Lily system in which Aluche can bring companions out into battle with her. Each Lily companion has their own unique skill set and special abilities that can be performed in combination with Aluche, such as a Burst attack and a button mashing “Double Charge” ability.
Servan companions (tamed demons and spirits that are loyal to you) can be collected and fight alongside you. Having both Servans and Lily companions increases the size of your battle party and consequently the available actions players will need to keep track of. Nights of Azure 2 has a lot of button combinations to command your companions to do various actions and while the button mappings seem more intuitive than in the original game, they are still difficult to remember and execute in the heat of battle. A fun change to battle are the various new weapon modes the Servans grant Aluche, such as a laser shooting shield or a piercing lance.
Heavily present in Bride of the New Moon is the importance of time.The overall objective must be achieved before the new moon and story progression can only be achieved during timed nightly hunts that will move the calendar forward a day and with it the phase of the moon. To acknowledge this, the game lets you restart from the beginning of chapters or load saves if you’ve mismanaged your time and defeating bosses will stall the movement of the moon. Those that find timed mechanics anxiety inducing will want to stay away from this game. But those that thrive under the pressure of the clock and revel in defeating enemies in the shortest amount of time possible will love the challenge Nights of Azure 2 presents.
In Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon, GUST brings back their take on tragic horror and ARPGs, this time mixing in some interesting new mechanics and characters. They continue to play with timed challenges like we’ve seen in other titles like the Atelier series but in this franchise the timed element is a bit more punishing. The almost identical storyline to the original title leaves something to be desired yet, it also hints at possible big surprises to come.
Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon was obtained from the developer and previewed on PlayStation 4. It is also available on PC via Steam.