Nights of Azure (PlayStation 4) Review

By Eric Ace 15.04.2016

Review for Nights of Azure on PlayStation 4

Nights of Azure is a "darker" offering from GUST, a studio more known for the Atelier games, which involve taking the role of a demon hunter who gets caught up in a story of duty versus friendship. This new game is an action-RPG that is passable on the action, contains an interesting summon system, and features a generally average story weighed down by heavily misplaced sex vibes infused into every discussion. Is it all bad, though? Cubed3 takes a look beyond the surface.

Nights of Azure is the type of game where the screenshots end up looking better than the game itself. This isn't to say the game is bad; on the whole it is decent, but weighed down by many little issues and falling short of what could have been based on the material it was working with. Among the largest inconsistencies is the very "adult" design of the characters, while the actual dialogue and relationship complexities rarely rise above what may best be described as "middle school melodrama."

Taking place in a world where the slain demon lord bled upon the world, which causes new demons to appear, a maiden must be sacrificed to try to seal the evil away. The player-controlled demon hunter goes from area to area, fighting through small groups, with occasional bosses thrown in before more story is revealed, and the maiden (the demon hunter's best friend) accompanies throughout the experience.

Screenshot for Nights of Azure on PlayStation 4

The formula is standard, as far as role playing games go. Featuring a strange balance between being mindless action and interesting choices for teams and level ups, combat, at its core, is a real-time hack-and-slash where hitting Squarex4 is the basic combo throughout. An occasional press of the Triangle button may liven things up for a moment, but in general the combat is never very deep. There is dodging, and maybe even a guard command, but the button mashing works in nearly every circumstance and requires no thought.

Fortunately, it does not end there, since all the time spent in combat would suffer if that was the end of it. The best part of it all is the minion system called 'Servans' that lets various creatures to be summoned, allowing a max four out at a time. These creatures level up and fill roles such as healer, damage dealer, and tank. There is arguably much more depth to them than the actually character, as they learn numerous moves and have several traits. At level up, the player picks one of two new traits for a Servan to permanently have, and it may be something like a five percent buff to the party or an immunity to stuns. The same creature could be built differently next time, expanding the options.

Screenshot for Nights of Azure on PlayStation 4

The setup ends up being much better than the execution, because, other than a "super" move that can be activated, there is little to be done other than letting them do their thing. The player character can equip new weapons, but it does not feel fundamentally different, since it still is only a button-mash whether it's a huge sword or dual daggers. Combat itself, for this reason, verges on repetitious and is saved only by the interesting "Servan" system.

The story and characters are weak, which is unfortunate given the direction it initially promised. The story is almost entirely focused on the interaction between the demon-hunter and the best friend maiden, who is to be sacrificed. Structurally, the game differs little from titles like Drakengard or Nier, but is leagues behind those games as far as a "mature" storyline is concerned. Instead the mess is a bipolar tone of bouncing, ecchi style of character "development" mixed with occasional subtle, and intriguing or mysterious elements. The latter are simply too rare.

Screenshot for Nights of Azure on PlayStation 4

The story is about two women who love each other, though it is never directly stated, and it's unfortunate, given the controversial nature of the relationship already, that it is not handled with more tact or subtlety. Instead, nearly all dialogue proceeds down the same path, with the camera focusing on breasts literally bigger than the characters' heads, through some sort of comic misunderstanding, and concluding with either blushing "Tee-hees," or turning away with proclamations of "It's not like that!"

The utterly misplaced sexual nature of the story cannot be understated. It truly is detrimental to the overall game. To be clear, sexual aspects are not always bad, as Dead or Alive and the surprisingly decent Criminal Girls quite clearly show, but here it quickly becomes impossible to wonder what exactly is supposed to be conveyed when gigantic breasts take up half the screen and bounce with every declaration of "It's not like I meant it that way." It is hard to take the story seriously when both characters' head-sized, jiggling and bouncing chests take up half the screen.

GUST is capable of better storytelling, not necessarily from the Atelier games, but Ar Tonelico had incredible character depth in its dive system. To have this story's material include a demon hunter forced to face her duty or loyalty to her love, a populace afraid to go out at night, and some sort of demonic minion summoning go nowhere must be pointed out. The game falls flat on its own face about the fourth time the buxom maiden, improbably dressed as a hotel maid, falls on her face again to our supposed amusement.

Screenshot for Nights of Azure on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Nights of Azure is a fun, if flawed, game. The RPG elements are workable, though leave much more to be desired, the action is passable, and the minion system is arguably the best part. Picking and customizing the minions is about the only joy in a repetitious combat system. Despite being touted as a darker direction for the company, the blatant and misdirected sexual focus, mixed with the very adolescent-leaning view of relationships, makes the already-slow story harder to connect to in any way that will leave players with fond memories after moving on. The potential of a darker, nuanced story is lost in endless ecchi and slapstick humour that is woefully misplaced.

Developer

Gust

Publisher

Koei Tecmo

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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