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Nights of Azure (PlayStation 4) artwork

Nights of Azure (PlayStation 4) review

"In the future, I need to be spending my nights with better games."

In nearly every way, Nights of Azure is a quite derivative action-RPG that might connect the dots, but won't do so in a manner that is particularly interesting or exciting. The adventure puts you in control of half-demon warrior Arnice as she attempts to prevent the revival of the Nightlord, while also attempting to preserve the life of best friend Lilysse a task made more daunting with how Lilysee is expected to sacrifice herself via ritual in order to maintain the seal keeping the Nightlord imprisoned.

The one way in which this game isn't derivative? While nothing explicit is shown, it's pretty obvious that the friendship between Arnice and Lilysee is romantic in nature, with the two occasionally sharing a dance, while also having deep conversations that tend to end with them laying in bed while holding hands. To give credit to creator Gust, this relationship is portrayed in an heartfelt and sincere manner that only is partially negated by how, in typical JRPG fashion, both woman are drawn as pure, unadulterated fanservice material. You know, the sort of combination that made me wonder how some of mankind's greatest works of romance would appear if the roles were played by strippers and porn stars.

But, hey, ignore the boobs on the verge of exploding out of dresses and this is a pretty good tale of two women endeavoring to survive an apocalyptic event, while ensuring their romance isn't of the star-crossed variety. While employed by the Curia a mysterious group dedicated to preventing the return of the Nightlord Arnice doesn't trust them in regards to their intent towards Lilysee. This occasionally causes conflict between her and Lilysee, as her friend occasionally views her protectiveness as the sort of smothering behavior that all but tells her she's helpless and should just follow her protector's lead.

If you cut through the obligatory BS, Nights of Azure does tell a decent story. Those detractions can be summed up as quirky humor that not only fell flat, but often seemed at odds with the Ballad of Arnice and Lilysee. While working through the small island housing the game's action, the two women reside at a hotel where, to not be a freeloader, Lilysee volunteers as hired help. A gesture that leads to a running joke showing how she's utterly horrible at the job, constantly falling down while carrying things and showing such aptitude at cooking that every single character is terrified to sample anything she prepares. A pair of guys show up to allegedly provide assistance. While they do have moments of seriousness, Lloyd and Professor Alucard primarily exist to be annoying comedic buffoons who constantly bicker with each other.

But I've played a lot of games littered with humor that didn't resonate with me. If the actual action is enjoyable, that stuff is, at most, a minor annoyance making me want to skip through cutscenes and dialogue in order to get back to the fun stuff. And. well, this is where Nights of Azure really struggled, as it's basically a bare-bones action-RPG with one potentially interesting aspect to its system.

That is how Arnice's half-demon blood allows her to summon monsters in battle. The game initially gives her three a good attacker, a defensive one and a dedicated healer and more can be collected from random drops obtained from killing foes. By using magic, she can summon up to four to provide assistance in combat. While they tend to fight on their own, by hitting the appropriate buttons, she can have them use their magic on special moves. For example, while the healing demon regularly will restore small amounts of health to party members, her special move serves as a powerful full-party restoration spell.

Pretty much anything that isn't a boss can be obtained as a potential party member, meaning that you can pick and choose between a pretty large assortment of potential allies. Or, like me, you can stick with the initial crew and then add whichever demon first enters your possession afterwards. Those guys were perfectly suitable, so I didn't see any need to experiment. Nor did I feel any desire to.

Combat is very simple. Other than triggering a demon ally's special attack, you'll mainly have weak and strong attacks, a dodge move and a magic-consuming special attack. As the game progresses, Arnice will gain weapons that can be switched between by pressing different directions on the control pad. As you go through dungeons, you'll gain tons of items that can be equipped to Arnice and her demons in order to raise their attributes. By killing foes and completing missions and simple "kill these monsters" and "find this item" side-quests, you'll gain demon blood, which can be spent on new demons or used to gain levels. Both gaining levels and completing certain side-quests gives you points that can be expended to buy various useful abilities. It's actually kind of boring to summarize, so imagine how I tended to feel while playing the game!

I mean, if I were to describe just why I stuck with this game, all I have is this: When I'm playing something challenging and awesome and massive like Elden Ring, it's nice to have something else going on that I can auto-pilot my way through. After getting tired of some Crucible Knight bashing my head in, I'd start up a session with Nights of Azure, go out of the hotel, kill monsters, advance the plot, return to the hotel, cash in quests, see if any of the new equipment I received was worth equipping and go back out to do it again until I was ready to pull the plug on another night of gaming.

I'd be keeping it to the essentials and still being annoyed due to the game going through stretches of dialogue lasting far longer than what one might expect from a game that took fewer than 20 hours to get through. In the hotel, there's a combat arena loaded with all sorts of challenges, but after my introduction to that place, I never visited again. After a while, I started eschewing all side-quests that didn't give me either blood to raise levels or points towards purchasing abilities because they were so repetitive and dull. As a less-than-reputable trader, Lloyd allows you to hand him money in order for an associate to deliver goods from around the world. I think I did that once out of curiosity and that was that for that. I made one half-hearted attempt at the post-game stuff you can do to obtain the best ending, but caved at the first sign of adversity simply because I didn't care enough to, you know, actually try.

Nights of Azure isn't truly a bad game it's just nondescript in probably every single way other than the romantic aspect to its story. With the exception of a couple boss fights, it's pretty easy until the very end and the post-game. Its combat is simple and repetitive and everything just kind of drones on until it's over. Sure, it was an adequate title to play when I just wanted to shut my brain off and go through the motions of gaming, but that probably says more about my personality than it does about this one's quality.

overdrive's avatar
Community review by overdrive (August 19, 2022)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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