What is Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon?
Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon is a tale of love, loss and friendship in a near-apocalyptic land. A Japanese-style role playing game, Nights of Azure 2 follows the exploits of the female knight Aluche, as she works to try and avert the end of the world. With a nefarious being known as the Moon Queen set on plunging the world into never-ending night unless she receives a sacrifice of a maiden known as the Bride of Time, it's up to you to find the unfortunate maiden, and deliver her as an offering. Only problem is, said Bride of Time just happens to be protagonist Aluche's childhood friend (and potential love interest), Liliana - and she's currently missing. As such, it falls to Aluche to locate her friend before the Moon Queen gets her hands on her, and find another way to stop the Moon Queen's apocalyptic night; one that doesn't require the death of her best friend. Although this is a sequel to the original Nights of Azure, you don't need to have played the first game to follow the story here.
How do you play Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon?
At its most basic, Nights of Azure 2 is a fast and frantic, button-mashing role-playing game, with a heavy focus on battling the demonic enemies that have taken over town. Together with your choice of female companion, you'll explore the winding streets, darkened groves and winding corridors of the game's towns, forests and abandoned buildings, fighting enemies, beating bosses and searching for your missing friend. Battles are fairly simplistic button-mashing affairs, although there is an emphasis on working with your partner for maximum damage and fancy special moves - by focusing on the same enemy, or saving your partner from danger, you'll charge up some rather flashy special attacks along the way. You also have a couple of demonic animal-like companions, known as Servan, which you can call on to perform special moves both inside and outside of battle, torching your enemies with flames, electrocuting them with bolts of lightning or simply giving you a leg up to a higher platform.
One key aspect of Nights of Azure is that you're effectively working against a time limit - two, in fact. The first is more of a general, overarching time limit, in that you're in a bit of a rush to find your friend and take down the Moon Queen before she can plunge the world into an endless night, which means that you only have a finite number of in-game days in which to get everything done. Every time you head back to the hotel to rest, you'll consume one day - and if the moon becomes a total eclipse before you finish your current task, it's game over. The trick here is to knock back the progress of the waning moon by taking out key bosses, weakening the Moon Queen's influence in the process.
Due to various story reasons, protagonist Aluche also has her own time limit you'll need to stick to, as she begins with only a scant ten minutes in which to head out into the surrounding areas, battle enemies, beat up bosses and complete various quests. As such, you'll find yourself heading back to the hotel to rest pretty frequently, in order to reset the timer, eating up in-game days in the process. As Aluche gets stronger, your time to explore will be gradually extended, but you'll still need to stay mindful of how long you have left, both on that day, and in terms of days left before the moon fades.
How easy is Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon to pick up and play?
In general, Nights of Azure 2 is fairly straightforward to pick up and play. On the standard difficulty level, enemies rarely pose too much of a threat, and should you find yourself struggling, you can dial it down to Easy at any time. Occasional puzzles do crop up in the dungeons, asking you to bounce a beam around a room from mirror to mirror, for example, in order to break through a boss' protective barrier, while another requires you to press a series of coloured switches in the correct order to bypass a series of coloured doors.
However, it's the aforementioned time limits that provide most of the challenge here, as they force you to plan your excursions, as well as which partners and Servans you'll take along with you, if you want to get down as many side quests and extra missions as possible. Some side quests require specific characters to complete, while some areas, missions and treasure chests are blocked off behind areas that require a specific Servan ability to bypass, and as you can't change your partner/Servans mid-mission, you'll need to be careful with your planning. You'll also need to be fairly speedy, ticking off multiple quests and missions in each journey out into the towns, forests and abandoned schoolhouses around about.
It's also worth noting that the game itself is voiced entirely in Japanese, with English subtitles throughout.
- "Have you forgotten? I too am a member of the Curia. Protecting the world from fiends is my job as well."
- "The gate's all tangled up in thorns. I'm gonna have to burn them if I want to pass."
- "I saw a priestess running off to the east. I'm not sure if she's the one you're looking for though."
On the whole, Nights of Azure 2 is a fairly middle of the road game in terms of mature content - there's intermittent mild bad language, such as b*stard and p*ssed, or hell and ass, along with some moderate violence. Battles see characters duking it out with werewolves, giant lizards and demonic humanoids, using swords, guns and magical spells, with blue blood/goo splashes sometimes following attacks, as well as cries of pain, impact noises and bright light flashes, before the defeated enemies fade away.
However, where things get a little more risqué is in terms of sexual content. Nights of Azure 2 is a bit of a lesbian love story, and can veer into the overt at times. Given its cast of nubile young women, who are often fairly scantily clad, there's exposed breasts and buttocks, as well as long, lingering camera angles focussing on said body parts during cutscenes. The hotel, which acts as your base of operations, comes equipped with a swimming pool - and the female cast each have their own barely-there bikini to wear for the obligatory pool cutscenes (and you can also wear them out and about on your demon-fighting missions if you so wish). Several scenes are laced with innuendos and references, such as "You're just… aroused. But why?" during an 'examination' scene, as well as plenty of conversations discussing their relative chest sizes and the like.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo Switch