Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon (PS4) Review: Duels in the Dusk

Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon (PS4) Review: Duels in the Dusk

Anime, and the media surrounding it, tends to stick to some very specific tropes that would make absolutely no sense elsewhere. Other genres in media have similar predilections, the common guilt of butlers or that whole hero with a thousand faces thing, but anime really cranks up the crazy in their tropes to a ridiculous degree, and it can be pretty distracting. People can have all varieties of animal features—cat ears being the most common—and no one seems to understand how clothing works at all. Needless to say, I’m not confident that any of the characters in Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon really know how to dress themselves.

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Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon (PS4) – gameplay images via Koei Tecmo

Nights of Azure 2 is combo driven anime action game, with stunning visuals, cool music, and some concerning issues. One of the first things the game tells you is that if you are unfamiliar with action games, you should set the difficulty to easy. When I first saw this warning, I didn’t give it a second thought. I set the difficulty to normal, hoping for a light challenge, and continued through my day, unaware of how I would look back at this time in my life with humour. Crank the difficulty on this sucker, because even normal difficulty is repetitive and simple. Mash buttons until you can mash other buttons, maybe dash once or twice, all will fall before you and your friends.

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Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon (PS4) – gameplay images via Koei Tecmo

The visuals here truly are stunning. The whole game is presented in a 3D anime art style, that that’s clearly where most of the work went. Every character is interesting to look at, despite their clothing conundrums, and it’s not just the copious fanservice dripping from every inch of this game. The accompanying soundtrack of rock riffs compliments the look and action of everything pretty well.

Story-wise, Nights of Azure 2 is a mess, and the shoddy localization doesn’t help. In fact, the poor translation seeps in everywhere, occasionally confronting the player with weird, nonsensical sentences and inconsistently explained ideas. There is no English voice acting to be found, so I hope you enjoy reading subtitles because Nights of Azure 2 is all Japanese, all the time.

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Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon (PS4) – gameplay images via Koei Tecmo

So, the player plays as Aluche, a knight representing Curia, a religious sect headed up by three figures as the Pope. Aluche escorts and protects Liliana, a childhood friend with some funky time powers, who is proclaimed the bride of time, destined to be sacrificed to the Moon Queen. The pair are quickly ambushed by another old friend from a rival sect, and the aforementioned Moon Queen. Aluche gets stabbed in the heart, Liliana disappears, and the lunar ruler goes about her business trying to put all of humanity to sleep for ever. Aluche is revived as a half-demon, with a fancy new hairdo—red with purple tips!—and learns that demons are plunging the world into eternal night, which is not something people are particularly keen on. Aluche and crew must find Liliana and stop the encroaching darkness under an ever-looming time limit, or all hope is lost.

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Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon (PS4) – gameplay images via Koei Tecmo

When not running through zones laying waste to the baddies of the land, our coterie lounges in a lavish hotel—tended to my ornate magical dolls—and do a lot of flirting. This is done in the most clichéd anime way possible, with well-endowed anime girls saying something suggestive, then blushing and calling the other character stupid and running off. You won’t be surprised to know that almost the entire cast is made up of well-endowed anime girls.

This is my biggest problem with Nights of Azure 2, its treatment of women. The constant fan service, ridiculous costumes, even the names of game mechanics go toward turning these characters into objects rather than the powerful women that they should be. Liliana has the power to stop time, but is still merely a damsel to be saved. Other characters are occasionally referred to as partners, but the game prefers to refer to them as lilies, and, just like the flower, are mostly useful as whichever flower the player thinks is prettiest. There is not much difference between lilies, aside from set dressing and player preference. These are issues common within anime in general, but it doesn’t excuse it, especially in this day and age. At times, Nights of Azure feels like a harem anime, a genre that is already problematic enough as it is. It’s important that fans call out these sorts of depictions in media, or else nothing will ever change.

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Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon (PS4) – gameplay images via Koei Tecmo

Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon packs a little bit of gameplay in a very pretty package. The story is insane, the game isn’t challenging, and the themes are concerning, to say the least, just like your favourite anime.

A retail version of the game reviewed was provided by the publisher. You can find additional information about CGMagazine’s ethics and review policies and procedures here.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more reviews by Lane Martain, such as Blood Bowl 2 – Legendary Edition for PC and Kingsway for PC!

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Blue Reflection (PS4) Review – Cracked Mirror

Blue Reflection (PS4) Review - Cracked Mirror

The magical girl genre is a staple of modern Japanese fantasy. From the bright and bubbly Sailor Moon to the disturbingly grim Madoka Magica, there’s a wide variety of anime and manga starring superpowered ladies out to save the world. The latest arrival to the scene, Blue Reflection, fills a niche most entries in the genre don’t: rather than being yet another TV show, it’s a traditional Japanese RPG by the developers of the Atelier series. To its credit, it’s perhaps the most conceptually “pure” magical girl video game ever released in the West. Unfortunately, it’s also bereft of substance, and relies on tiresome smoke and mirrors—sparkles and bubbles, really—to disguise its numerous shortcomings.

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Blue Reflection (PS4) – gameplay image credit: Koei Tecmo

Blue Reflection takes place in a fictional realization of modern-day Japan and follows Hinako, a transfer student to the all-girl Hoshinomiya Academy. After an accident shatters her dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer, she is listless and uncertain about the future. Her life changes forever when she meets Yuzu and Lime, twin girls who awaken Hinako to the power of the “Reflector,” and she becomes a magical maiden tasked with assuaging rampant emotions in a parallel dimension called “The Common.” More importantly for Hinako, becoming a Reflector allows her to move in The Common as if her leg was never injured, so she accepts her new station with aplomb.

Drawing upon popular RPGs that use a contemporary setting, like The Caligula Effect and Tokyo Xanadu, Blue Reflection is yet another game that aims to balance the day-to-day mundanity of Japanese high school life with otherworldly adventuring. Regrettably, its gameplay-to-story ratio is heavily skewed in favour of vapid, long-winded cutscenes. Worse, it’s stuffed to the brim with repetitive, generic quests and offers virtually no variety in terms of exploration or battle.

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Blue Reflection (PS4) – gameplay image credit: Koei Tecmo

Every chapter begins with Hinako meeting a new girl at school with a one-note personality (Girl Who Loves Tennis, Girl Who Loves Photography, Girl Who Loves Makeup, and so on), whose emotions eventually run rampant and must be quelled in The Common. The Common is composed of only four areas, each tied to an emotion, and are impossibly small—we’re talking one or two screens per “dungeon.” Blue Reflection asks the player to venture into these same environments over and over to complete riveting quests like “slay five monsters” or “collect four objects” until they have accumulated an arbitrary number of points. Rinse and repeat every chapter.

It should also be noted that while Blue Reflection projects a distinctly soft, female-oriented aesthetic, there’s an odd clash between its cutesy facade and the reality of what it depicts. It features scene after scene of teenage girls teasing each other in the shower, lounging in the bath, and commenting on one another’s underwear, with camera angles that linger meaningfully below their waistlines. There is a scene where one girl peeks at Hinako’s panties to see if they’re cute, asks her if she’d like to trade, and then literally takes hers off in the middle of the school hallway to swap with her. I’ll refrain from making any judgment on the nature of the material itself, but it needs to be said that Blue Reflection is a highly sexualized depiction of female adolescence, point blank. Your mileage may vary.

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Blue Reflection (PS4) – gameplay image credit: Koei Tecmo

Combat in Blue Reflection had the potential to be the crowning jewel of the experience but is almost entirely invalidated by how meaningless it is. Blue Reflection has no experience point system, no equipment, and no shops. It has only a rudimentary growth system that allows the player to invest attribute points in four stats (attack, defense, support, and “technical,” which is basically luck) based on how far they’ve progressed through the story. The player also earns “fragments” from completing quests that function like ability modifiers, granting effects like bonus damage or added debuffs depending on which abilities they’re attached to. Battles themselves use a stripped-down, turn-based system that quickly becomes monotonous, and HP and MP are restored to full after every fight. The removal of any meaningful character progression system renders combat effectively pointless, making a system that should be the crux of the game feel like nothing more than a roadblock.

Two elements of Blue Reflection stand above the rest and go some way toward salvaging the experience. Its over-the-top boss encounters pit Hinako and her friends against grotesque, towering monstrosities with neo-gothic designs that feel like errant Bayonetta transplants. These battles allow Hinako to call her school friends in to assist in a variety of ways, from spiking a tennis ball in the enemy’s face to calling in an airstrike (seriously). This is the only context in which its daily life and combat segments overlap successfully; it’s beyond me why the developers limited these cooperative abilities to boss battles exclusively. The other saving grace in Blue Reflection is a phenomenal soundtrack that vastly outclasses the game it was made to accompany. In battle, it layers high-voltage electro beats over violin and synth hooks; in Hoshinomiya’s hallways, delicate piano melodies paint the windows like raindrops on a foggy summer evening. Composer Hayato Asano asserts his musical fortitude here with panache.

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Blue Reflection (PS4) – gameplay image credit: Koei Tecmo

Blue Reflection fails to live up to its tantalizing premise. It’s a tedious cocktail of unfulfilling gameplay and limp storytelling that uses covert sexuality as a crutch. I wanted Blue Reflection to make me feel like I was punishing enemies in the name of the moon; instead, I was the one punished by its hollow and repetitive loop.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out some more Derek Heemsbergen’s reviews, such as Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony or Tokyo Xanadu!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15 – Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite and Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!