Hello lovely people, Joe again with another review; this time, it’s of a lil’ Japanese Hack’n’Slash known as Nights of Azure…

Originally released on October 1st, 2015 in Japan, April 1st 2016 here in the UK, and now on Feburary 7th 2017 on Steam, Nights of Azure has had a while to mature; given this, is the Steam port of this acclaimed PS4 game worth your money?

Nights of Azure is set in the alternate-universe version of Earth; commonplace locations exist here, such as America and the United Kingdom, however this game is set on the more fantastical mythical island of¬†Rusewall Island. This odd Isle is cursed with the pollution of Blue Blood, a phenomenon that was caused from a monster borne of the darkness, known as the Ruler of the Night, being defeated in battle many years ago – His blood shed across the island, deforming any organic material that came in contact with it, turning it into¬†Jayou, beasts that aim to steal the Night from the island. The literal Nighttime. Yep. Don’t know how the hell they intend to steal the Night, but I’d expect for it to be more symbolic or metaphorical rather than literal.

The plot follows main protagonist Arnice, a holy knight of the Curia organization, tasked with cleansing the isle of Blue Blood – She teams up with her old partner and friend Lilysee, whom is a saint destined to seal the remains of the Ruler of the Night, supposedly through self-sacrifice. Lovely.

Now, I have to outline this from the start. Do not, I repeat DO NOT try to play this game with a mouse and keyboard. The game has this superbly bizarre control scheme where none of the shoulder buttons on controllers are bound to keys, attacking is left to the K key, and overall it’s just a sloppy mess. Definitely not a good start to an already somewhat unimpressive title. Other than that though, this is where my issues with the port not only begin, but also end. Framerate was kept consistently high at 60fps, never dropping below, visual quality was good, although it has to be said that some floor and minor textures do look rather blurry or stretched; despite this first hiccup, however, it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a simple patch rebinding keys, allowing for players to rebind keys, or even just remodelling the beginning tutorial to accommodate.

Note that the above screenshot was just naturally taken when I was beginning with a Mouse and Keyboard. You can probably hear my screaming from there.

So, trundling on, controller in hand, I set foot into Nights of Azure; one thing that grabbed me initially was the blend of styles between what seemed to be Castlevania (Especially the 3D titles Lament of Innocence and Curse of Darkness), Ni No Kuni (With the Servan familiars especially looking like they’d been plucked straight from a Level-5 inc. title), and your typical anime fare – It’s quite a blend and a blend I’m quite a fan of. Gameplay too is flashy and somewhat tactical, with Arnice being the central party leader, allowing you to have up to 4 extra Servans in your party, however all it really boils down to is:

  • Use your Servans to stunlock enemies
  • Use your Special on a hard enemy or cluster of enemies
  • If that fails, run around in a circle with only a healer active

It surprisingly makes the gameplay a heck of a lot easier than it already was and is, despite being a cheap tactic, a plausible one at that.

So what exactly are Servans then? I’ve been harping on about them for the better half of this review – Servans are…Well…Servant monsters that can be created by using “Fetishes” or “Dolls” as I call them to summon a random Servan – When I first saw the word “Fetishes” in the inventory menu, I did cry a little inside as I was already expecting a typical boob-filled anime game, but I was gladly surprised to see it take the mythological meaning of the term. Servans come in all shapes and sizes, from small dragons, to wood golems, fairies and even little people, harking back to the visual style of Ni No Kuni as I explained earlier.

The music too is another strong suit of the game, with a varied OST of classical, rock, metal and gothic tunes to help get you in the zone when exploring the dark, hazy environments of the world. Maps are split up into missions all Dynasty Warriors-like, but I would be lying if I said they didn’t leave a lot to be desired. Maps are small. Compact. Short. They don’t offer a whole lot of variety and end up being just timed slogs through wave after wave of the same old enemies; this is attempted to be remedied with a Colosseum mode, however this, coupled with the quickly-stagnating combat is where Nights of Azure primarily goes wrong…

…However…That’s not all folks. The intriguing plot of self sacrifice and conflict gets drenched under a deep sludge of wishy-washy romance between Arnice and Lilysee, as they attempt to find a way of sealing the Ruler of the Night without sacrificing Lilysee…Interesting…But that’s it. That’s all the plot has to offer. It’s a sincere shame, however I suppose my expectations would’ve been naturally raised as I’ve been seriously craving even a half-decent plotline in one of these types of games for the better half of a good 5 years.

Nights of Azure looks pretty. It feels pretty. It sounds pretty, but it’s heart is ugly. Bland, samey and generic – Sure, perhaps if you haven’t played a JRPG Hack’n’Slash before, then give this a shot, otherwise you’d most likely find better for your money elsewhere.

Also, don’t forget that Luke previously reviewed this title, so if you want to look at a different point of view, hop over HERE!

Verdict:

6 / 10.

TLDR:

  • Audio / Visuals good. Stable port.
  • Let down by boring combat and easy difficulty. Poor characters, level design and theming.
  • Port hates keyboard-only players.