Released last year for PS4, Koei Tecmo has finally ported the Nights of Azure to Steam for PC users to enjoy. A tale between a saint and her protector, the game delves into the motifs of sacrifice and to what extent the insistence of selfless acts becomes that of selfishness in an island where no one sleeps at night as demons lurk about.
Steam describes the game:
Save the world or the life of one girl… I decide my destiny!
The world was once ruled by the Night Lord. In that world lived a Saint, destined to become a sacrifice to the Night Lord, and a Holy Knight, with the power to use Servans.
The meeting of the girls changed the fate of the world.
Take your Servans and fight across “The Land Without Night” for the one you love!
Nights of Azure takes place on Rusewall Island, an uncharted land wrought with a blight of demons. As interesting it sounds, the setting has barely been explored, only giving enough information to progress the plot. Nonetheless, rather than focusing on surviving against demons, the game focuses on a more personal level with the relationship between the saint Lilysse and her knight Arnice the core of the series. The game begins with the two already well-acquainted with each other, thus no in-game time was spent developing the relationship between the two. Instead, there is a reminiscence mode that unlocks new scenes via game progression, providing backstory between Arnice and Lilysse prior to the game. It is apparent that the two girls mutually care for each other, but conflicts arise at times whenever one chooses to exclude the other from an operation in order to protect latter. Arnice and Lilysse’s relationship and how acting upon their feelings progresses the plot is one of the biggest highlights of the game. What is unfortunate is that the execution of said progressing plot is not a good as the execution of the two girls’ interactions with each other.
In terms of gameplay, Nights of Azure has a real-time combat system with interesting gimmicks. The game provides the standard JRPG tropes such as a time-limited transformation ability, equipment, and attacks that vary in degrees of speed and damage. There is also the ability to switch between main weapons such as a sword, gun, mallet, and a pair of daggers. The most interesting aspect of the combat system is the ability to summon up to four tamed demons named “Servans” at a time. Rather than a standard party with teammates, Arnice instead goes solo on her missions but has Servans at her side which have different abilities such as AOE hitters, item detectors, or defenders. That gives a lot of room to strategize which party of Servans work best by either having one that is well-rounded or specialize in heavy-hitting or defending.
Also unique is the levelling system in which the level cap is just 11. Servans level up by gaining experience from battles, but Arnice does not gain experience and instead levels up by spending blue blood at an alter. Because of the level cap being so low compared to other JRPGs, just leveling up by one up yields Arnice major benefits such as access to using a new type of weapon or gaining new skills. Nonetheless, there is also a cap on top of that level cap which can be apparent for grinders. Despite the level cap being 11, there is a limit to how high Arnice’s level can be at a certain part of the story. Even if a player has enough blue blood to pay for it, he or she is unable to level up unless he or she further progresses in the story.
Nonetheless, the game, unfortunately, suffers from very linear and short dungeons, thus exploration is not one gleaming aspect. In terms of graphic quality, Nights of Azure is decent, but nothing outstanding. However, the opposite pertains to the soundtrack of the game with scores that perfectly fit the ambience of a scene.