Title: Nights of Azure

Platform: PS3, PS4, PS Vita

Reviewed on: PS4

Genre: Action RPG

Players: Single player




Written by Dragoon 29th May 2016


















Nights of Azure by developer Gust is the epitome of a generic Japanese roleplaying game. It checks off all the tried and tested standards one would expect from a game of this style. You have your gratuitous fan service and a generic cel-shaded art style with the usual cast of character tropes. As the old saying goes though, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it. People enjoy the familiar so why not just give it to them? While it may look run-of-the-mill at first glance there are a few breakthroughs peppered sparingly throughout Nights of Azure.

 

While the narratives core is great it’s unfortunately squandered. An unusually dark setting for a Gust game (who are known more for their light and cheerful Atelier series), Nights of Azure is set in a world which is beset by demons when night comes due to a cataclysmic event in the past. None dare set foot outside once night falls except for a select few. One of these is our main character Arnice, a demon slayer who is half demon herself. In order to stop these demons Arnice’s old friend, the priestess Lilysse, must sacrifice herself to seal them away.
























 

The story, at first, revolves around the conflict Arnice struggles with between her duty as a demon slayer and her friendship with Lilysse. She wants to stop the demons but at the same time she doesn’t want her closest friend to die in the process. To prevent this Arnice tries to find her own way to stop the demons, leading her down a path that causes her demonic side to slowly take over. This sounds great on paper but it’s all thrown out of the window in favour of gratuitous fan service and tired anime style story tropes.

 

To gain her power Arnice must absorb the demon blood in an uncomfortably revealing costume for no reason other than pure fanservice and Lilysse is thrown into a maid costume for the same reason. In between missions you can take part in some lighthearted side quests that add nothing to story except some awkward, tension breaking scenes you’ve probably seen a million times before. It’s a crying shame because there was a lot of potential in the story that was sadly marred by tired anime tropes and unnecessary sexualisation.

 

Things aren’t much better in the gameplay department. The main bulk of the game has you running about a flat and linear map hacking and slashing at the hordes of generic enemies the game throws at you. You can create a team of demons you have captured to help you in battle but it doesn’t matter all that much. There’s very little strategy needed to beat pretty much anything, you can just run in and start hitting buttons and you’ll usually come out on top. You have very limited combo potential and I found little point in mixing up my attacks, just mashing out the same string worked fine.
























 

The frame rate in battles constantly dropped for me and god forbid I break a crate in one of the maps, the FPS would take a massive hit whenever I did. When it comes to the game from a technical standpoint, it generally disappointed. The menus are an absolute nightmare to get through, I was always finding new mechanics that were never explained and hidden away behind a sea of options. The UI was also a bit cluttered but definitely not the worst I’ve seen.

 

Nights of Azure uses a generic cel-shaded art style which looks alright but doesn’t do anything too exciting or new. The models for Lilysse and Arnice are actually quite good if you can ignore all the unsightly clipping, it’s just a shame all the other characters are bland and generic. The animations range from great in battles to terrible during the side events. Watching Lilysse and Arnice hug each other was especially awkward due to the way their models interacted with each other. Of course they also both have extensive jiggle physics that is again totally unneeded and over the top, almost putting Dead or Alive to shame.

 

Honestly the area Nights of Azure shines brightest in is its soundtrack. Gust always deliver a quality soundtrack and this game is no exception. It ranges from sweeping piano pieces to high tempo rock and it all compliments what’s happening on the screen exceptionally well. One of my favourite pieces plays in the hub area, a hotel lobby, it’s a relaxing yet upbeat jazzy tune that really helps you to wind down after all the hack and slash mayhem of the main missions.
























 

Overall, Nights of Azure had a good foundation but instead decided to play it safe by sticking to the tropes that have plagued this kind of game for a long time. If it had focused on the more mature side of the story and kept out the silly attempts at humour and fanservice it could have been good. The gameplay and art style are both very safe and bland but do their job well enough while the soundtrack is pretty great, it’s just a shame it didn’t have a quality game to back up. Nights of Azure decided to go for the safe route and that’s fine if you enjoy that kind of thing, just don’t expect anything new or exciting.

  

 

Pros:       

Great soundtrack,

Interesting story premise.

                        

Cons:

Relies too heavily on tropes and fanservice,

Awkward animations,

Unstable framerate,

Bland gameplay.

 

Final verdict,

Nights of Azure is about as run-of-the-mill as they come, earning itself a 5/10.

 

Written by,

Dragoon


















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