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Let's vanquish the Night: DragonFlames plays Nights of Azure

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11 Century--
A young woman is said to have vanquished the demonic Nightlord,
who covered the world in Eternal Night.
In his defeat, the Nightlord spilled his foul essence,
which took root to form an evil that lingers to this day...
Blue Blood.
Those who bathed in the Blue Blood were transformed body and soul into fiends,
and became a blight upon humanity.

Thereafter, they would appear at night to take people.
In doing so, they robbed the human race of nighttime itself.
Beset by sleepless nights caused by these wicked fiends,
the city became known as "The Land Without Night."

800 years later...
The stage has been set for a crusade on Ruswal,
an island in the North Sea that is not on any map.
On this island, two young women, each bound to the fate of the Night,
were destined to reunite with each other.
This is the story of two young women
who lived in "The Land Without Night."

 

And with that little opening narration, I welcome all of you to my first ever screenshot-based Let's Play of one of my favorite games of all time; Nights of Azure. The game was developed by Gust and published by Koei Tecmo and released to questionable success in 2016.
I picked it up by pure chance while trying to get my best buddy a gift for his birthday back then and immediately fell in love with it. Why did I decide to make this my first LP ever? Well... the reason is that I always wanted to try doing one of these, but I couldn't decide on what game to pick. But recently, I had this urge to revisit this game again and I thought "Hey, why not share it with the friendly people at Serenes Forest?", so now, here we are. As this will be my first experience with this sort of thing, I hope you will forgive mistakes and the like. Recommendations for improvement are always welcome.
We can get one of these questions out of the way right off the bat: let me know if this screenshot size is good enough for you or whether or not it should be smaller or bigger:
f9exZP0.jpg

For this playthrough, I will be showing the PS4 version of the game.

So yeah, let me know how you guys feel about all this and I guess I'll see you in Part One!

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I’ve never heard of this game before, so I looked up some pictures... it looks interesting.

As for the screenshot size it seems fine on a phone, but not sure about how it looks on a computer. (I assume it’s alright though)

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I heard good things about Nights of Azure (or at least I think I did, but it might've been another game now that I think about it), so I'm curious what you will have to say about it after you start playing. Looked up some gameplay though, and although it doesn't look anything too special, I guess if the story is good enough, it might be a decent game? Will see.

As for the screenshot, it's perfectly fine on PC, I don't think you need to go any smaller or bigger than this. And have fun!

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8 hours ago, MyLuckyHaiku said:

I’ve never heard of this game before, so I looked up some pictures... it looks interesting.

As for the screenshot size it seems fine on a phone, but not sure about how it looks on a computer. (I assume it’s alright though)

Noted. Thank you!

42 minutes ago, coldhand25 said:

I heard good things about Nights of Azure (or at least I think I did, but it might've been another game now that I think about it), so I'm curious what you will have to say about it after you start playing. Looked up some gameplay though, and although it doesn't look anything too special, I guess if the story is good enough, it might be a decent game? Will see.

As for the screenshot, it's perfectly fine on PC, I don't think you need to go any smaller or bigger than this. And have fun!

Thanks, will do!
Thank you for the feedback as well!

---

Let's Play Nights of Azure Part One: About boats, hotels, and servants

The game starts us off with the opening narration I posted above, so there's no need to do it again, I believe. It introduces us to the world and already makes us ask many questions. After that, we get a nifty intro cutscene that shows the battle between the young woman and the Nightlord as well as what happened afterwards; his blood raining down on the land and people and objects turning into fiends. Basically, a visualization of what we had to read through earlier:
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Those are some long-ass fingernails you got there, Mr. Nightlord...

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Not five minutes in and the game is already bloodier than Mortal Kombat.
Thankfully, it's blue, so it's not too bad for those who get queasy from this sort of thing.

After the cutscene, we are introduced to our main heroine arriving in Ruswal, complaining about an organization known as the Curia sending her to an island that isn't even on a map. She seems to be working for that organization, but her wording "Friggin' Curia" seems to indicate that she isn't that devoted to them.
6lvjAsa.jpg
Relatable. Oh so very relatable.

Her complaining doesn't last long, thankfully, as she is approached by another young woman, asking her whether she is the knight the Curia sent. Turns out the two know each other. The seasick woman's named is Arnice (pronounced Ar-niss) and the one who approached her is called Lilysse. Like all old friends do, they catch up with each other on what they have been doing since their last meeting in Germany of all places two years beforehand.
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She got around, for sure.

Meanwhile, Arnice was apparently in America (by boat, of course) and...
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Well, at least she wouldn't have to worry about getting water in her eyes with those goggles on.

Arnice then proceeds to go on a rant about why she hates traveling by sea in general, saying that bridges will let you cross most anything (try that over the ocean, sweetheart) and that if you want fish, there's plenty in the rivers. All that culminates in this gem:
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Arnice' character trait notes #1: Hates boats and sea travel.

Before her friend can get even more worked up, Lilysse quickly changes the subject and says that apparently, the Curia have prepared a Hotel room for them to stay in while they're on their mission together. An easy fiend-slaying mission, supposedly. After Arnice remarks on her employers generosity (not without a hint of sarcasm to it), we're off to the hotel through the ever-darkening streets of Ruswal. I'm sure that will go well...
After walking for a bit, Lilysse remarks how happy she is to be with Arnice again and the two reminisce a bit about their time as students and roommates, when they were inseparable. They also make a promise to stroll around the city once their mission is over.
This heartwarming moment doesn't last very long, as an item called the "Rosier Clock" in Arnice' posession starts reacting, which can only mean that fiends are nearby and ready to strike. Now, a third voice is heard and out pops a cute little creature known as an "Alraune". Turns out Arnice is a Pokémon Trainer, who knew?
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Adorable, isn't it?

Arnice now introduces us to the concept of "Servans", fiends that are under her employ and address her as "Master". This little bugger seems to be a bit stubborn, as Arnice has to remind it that it shouldn't come out unless summoned and that, as a Servan, its job is to listen to her every order like a good servant.
Maybe Arnice is just a terrible boss?
In any case, NOW we are finally off to playing the game. We are taught about the ins and outs of Arnice' group of three Servans, which presents us with basically the classic Attacker/Tank/Healer setup that has been a staple in role playing games since pretty much their inception. We also learn that Servans actually have names and that Alraune, for example is their species. Let me introduce our little friends:
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Ace, the Dinosword, who will be our main source of damage.

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The Alraune, Rise (not to be confused with the Persona 4 character), who will be our main source of healing...

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And Alvaro, the Wood Golem, who will be our tank. In my non-professional opinion, he is the most adorable of the bunch.

Now, it is worth mentioning that Nights of Azure is an Action RPG and that we aren't in direct control of the Servans, only Arnice. If you don't issue orders to them, they'll do their own thing. In order to call upon a Servan, you need to press R1 and one of the face buttons (Square, Triangle, Circle, or X) to summon them. Giving them orders works the same way. Each Servan is mapped to one of the face buttons and you can switch that around at your leisure.
Even if they have their own heads, as justified by the story itself, Servans are very reliable and it's a mistake to think you can do much without them around. Of course, Arnice herself is no slouch in combat, either, but again, without the Servans, she'd be screwed.
Maybe a little more gratitude is in order, eh, Arnice?

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You do that, Ace!
Also, this is what you'll be looking at for most of the game. On the top right, you see the minimap of the area you're currently in. Bottom right shows your summoned Servans and the button they're mapped to and lower left shows Arnice' HP, SP, and current level. HP is obvious: if it reaches zero, that's GG. SP is used to summon your Servans and for Arnice' Special Attack, which she can trigger using the X-button on the PS4 controller. The way she herself controls will feel very familiar to those who have played any kind of Warriors game before. Square for Normal Attacks, Triangle for Strong Attacks, X for a special attack, L1 for blocking, L1+Circle for a dodge-roll, R1 and a button to use your Servans' skills, known as Servan Bursts. That's basically it for the control scheme of this game.

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The "Screenshot Saved" thingie wanted in on the action, it seems.

After the fiends and the tutorial are out of the way, Lilysse, who turns out to be a Priestess, conducts a ritual to purify the Blue Blood that has been collecting in Arnice' Rosier Clock. Now we know what it's for, at the very least. Also, a mysterious black cat had appeared during the battles. And Lilysse...
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"How can anyone be so carefree?" - Arnice

Lilysse, unfazed by Arnice' astonishment, invites the black cat to come with us to the hotel. The animal agrees and so we continue on our path until we come across a swarm of black butterflies, indicating a strong, fiendish presence nearby. Arnice sees a blood red crescent moon in the sky and Lilysse muses that that must the Blood Moon Milada, which shows how much time the world has left until the Eternal Night begins again. Once the thing becomes full - poof - bye, bye daytime. Luckily, it's only a small crescent just now. A large shadow then appears and informs us that the Nightlord will soon revive.
OJngGjK.jpg
Ominous...

The shadow turns out to be a giant black dragon with tentacles for wings. He's grateful for the "offering", grabs Lilysse and takes off, with Arnice in hot pursuit.
Well, this went south really fast, didn't it?

So now with some more urgency, we make our way through the streets of Ruswal to catch up to the dragon that kidnapped our princess friend, killing a ton of fiends along the way, Alvaro drawing their fire, Ace and Arnice killing them and Rise keeping everyone in good health. Synergy!
CLqfpHD.jpg
Outta my way, I have a friend to save!

After some battles, among which we killed some of Alvaro's relatives (poor guy...), we finally reach the hotel. Arnice, skeptic that she is, remarks that she really doesn't want to rely on the Curia for this one, but also thinks she doesn't have a choice, as the dragon who took Lilysse is already out of sight. So, with some reluctance and some more fiends in the way, we enter the giant hotel lobby that looks more like the entrance to a palace.
bQrQrNw.jpg
Five Stars or bust!

There, at the reception desk, we find a blond man on the phone with someone, who asks if Arnice has arrived yet, which gets quickly confirmed. Must be someone from the Curia...
The man gets some instructions we don't know, then introduces himself to us as Simon, the manager of Ende Hotel.
Can't have many guests with that kind of name ("Ende" is German for "end").
Arnice informs him that Lilysse, the Priestess, has been kidnapped and Simon says that the Curia is very aware of that ("How?!?" - Arnice and the audience) and then tells her where she was taken:
04OUY0s.jpg
No wonder Arnice is suspicious of the Curia...

And with that begins Chapter 1 - Destined Reunion. Now that we have our goal, it is time to go to the Count's Rose Garden and get Lilysse back...
in the next part. Hope you enjoyed this LP so far. Tell me what I can do better and improve (like if the part length, number of screenshots, my incessant babble and such is fine) and I'll try to implement that. Part two will be out maybe the day after tomorrow, because I have a major cold currently, so I can't play a lot. I'll try to get another part out soon, though. See ya!
HSBEthP.jpg

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Now I can convince myself, if this series really is as good as you praised. 

 

In general I find doing a screenshot LP of an action RPG extremly tedious to make because focusing on the battle and screencapturing at the same time is difficult and it would distract my focus to the actual game. I hope you will get over it unlike I did. 

Edited by Lysithea

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29 minutes ago, Lysithea said:

Now I can convince myself, if this series really is as good as you praised.

Well, I hope I haven't overhyped it for you (and everyone else, too)!
But hey, I'll fault no one for disliking the game. Different strokes for different folks, as they wisely say.

30 minutes ago, Lysithea said:

In general I find doing a screenshot LP of an action RPG extremly tedious to make because focusing on the battle and screencapturing at the same time is difficult and it would distract my focus to the actual game. I hope you will get over it unlike I did. 

If you check the screenshots you'll notice that only two of them depict actual combat scenes and one of the reasons for doing so was that it's kinda hard to focus on making the screenshots and fighting off the hordes. The other reason is that I think so long as it's just regular mobs, I don't need to show it all off (unless of course you or anyone else want to see more of it), but I'm still debating on what to do once the bosses start to show up, as the later ones especially get pretty crazy with their moves.

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oEVHtcr.jpg
Can you believe we're only now hitting Chapter 1?

Let's Play Nights of Azure Part 2: Blueblood Dragon in the Garden

So, last time we left off, Lilysse got kidnapped by a giant black dragon and we have received the info that she's in the Count's Rose Garden from hotel manager Simon. But first, we are finally allowed to explore the lobby of the hotel. This is basically our "hubworld" for this game, where we can equip Arnice and her Servans with items, change our party formation, accept quests, shop, save etc. Think something like Garreg Mach in Three Houses or Thors Academy in Trails of Cold Steel or any hometown in the Atelier series.

Our Servans are here, too. And they want to talk with us, it seems. So, before going to rescue Lilysse, we'll have a chat with our friends. Simon gives us items to equip our Servans with, which will help in the upcoming battles. Ace, the Dinosword tells us that humans dislike blood that's blue or purple, Rise wants to take a nap, because the beds are really big and Alvaro wants
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Don't we all, little buddy?

Also, next to the guestbook, we find a note written by someone, which reads as follows:
Ever since I've accepted the priest's role, there's been much to learn. But I can't always rely on the hotel staff to help me. I must do as much as I can, whether it be taking notes about the Curia, life on this island, or anything else that catches my eye. Then...
To not forget why I came to Ruswal Island. To learn about half-demons, to lessen the impact of the Blue Blood. Maybe I can free her... I want to see her. I wonder what she's doing now...?

Arnice recognizes this as a note from Lilysse. Must be the handwriting.

After we look at what else Simon has for sale (nothing worth mentioning, really), we're off to the Count's Rose Garden, where our friend has allegedly been brought to. From the world map, we select the place as our next destination and we're treated to a little overview of the area.
q7uSr61.jpg
Spooky mansion is spooky.

This is also the point in the game where we're introduced to the Time Limit mechanic. Basically, the night is so dangerous, that Arnice can't stay out much longer than 15 minutes at a time. This sounds like it's not much, but trust me, you can explore an entire area and kill every fiend in the vicinity without running out of time. This particular level takes around 9 minutes to get from beginning to end and that's if you fight everything on the map and scour every corner for treasure. Anyway, we summon our trusty Servans and run straight into trouble, as fiends are crawling around everywhere in this place.
Strangely enough, the black cat from before has also decided to follow us. Might it be worried about Lilysse, too?

ZEagGnD.jpg
Sometimes, fiends drop temporary stat boosters. That flask to the right there refills SP.

A lot of fiends and about 3 minutes later, we find a weird glowing sphere at the top of some stairs. Touching it makes Arnice hear a voice:
I think this is it for me. Ohh, but if there is a God, then please... I don't even care if it's only in a dream. Please just let me see... Arnice!
2qkbO66.jpg
If the night could do that in real life, imagine the chaos...

In the next area, the Indoor Garden, we find another glowing item, which Arnice identifies as a fetish. Yes, that's what it's actually called. Fetishes in this game contain souls of demons and if you conduct what is called an "Actualization" ritual, you can recruit that demon to your party. It costs a bit of blood to do so, but it is still worth it. This particular fetish looks like a doll.
RS797XA.jpg
Still, the basic idea is that fetishes make demons happen. I THINK the developers might be trying to tell us something...

After Rise, our peppy Alraune, warns Arnice that conducting the ritual here may be a little bit too dangerous (in order to justify that you can only use Actualize in the hotel and not in the field), the black cat comes by and gives Arnice a ring, which she doesn't recognize... only to then promptly swallow it. That cat is a troll, I tell you...

This next area has a bunch of debris that only our Servans can destroy, but luckily, with Ace and Alvaro, we have enough muscle on our team, making the rubble a non-issue. Sometimes, there are even treasure chests underneath the rubble, so it's worth attacking everything that looks suspicious. Even the grass. In true Zelda fashion, the grass in this area nets several recovery items and temporary buffs.

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Fighting leaves the ground looking something like this.
Our Servans can drink the blood left over to regain HP and SP, so we should give them the order to "Drink Blood" after every battle just in case.

The next area leads us to a strange portal. And... a telephone rings. Arnice picks up and sure enough, it's Simon on the other end. He suggests that Arnice come back for the time being, to which she replies that she'll decide when to come back on her own. Then, she questions him how the heck he knew she was there, and Simon... well...
QnNDqsO.jpg
Turns out he's a troll, too. Who knew?

Arnice doesn't fall for this old trick and tells him that he's totally doing that on purpose, but the hotel manager has already hung up on us.
Meanwhile, Rise has taken an interest in the strange gate and despite Arnice warning it to not go in there without her permission, it does it anyway, leaving Arnice no choice but to follow. And the gate leads to...
hRddbJb.jpg
Dafuq?

Simon is there to greet us and he tells us that the hotel was apparently the hideout of a demon lord at one point and that strange happenings aren't exactly out of the ordinary.
I'm... not entirely sure I'd want to stay there, honestly.

In any case, we get a result screen and our Servans get EXP for their trouble. Not enough to level up, but it's a step forward. Also, we can finally conduct the Actualization ritual. For that, we have to pay 500 (liters of?) blood and have the "Bisque Doll" fetish handy (it's just the press of a button. No complicated stuff required). And with that, let's welcome our newest party member: Sophia, the Bisque!
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Adorable, isn't it?
This little girl is very useful in battle. Not only can she push away enemies, she also casts a shield around you when you get knocked down by an enemy attack, preventing you from taking further damage.

With that, our party is finally the maximum size of four members (five, if we count Arnice herself). Rise is also very happy and welcomes Sophia in our midst. While also saying that Arnice is a nice person, but she does get grumpy at times. Arnice' reaction?
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Remember when I called her a terrible boss?

Startled, Rise quickly backpedals and says that it was only trying to tell the newbie how strong, beautiful and cool Arnice is.
Sophia reacts to this whole ordeal with a laugh, says that they are hilarious, and hopes that they can all get along together.

Now, back to the mission. The gate we passed is a shortcut, so we can skip a large portion of the level. Gates like these are found in many levels and basically serve as checkpoints, so if you do run out of time, you can go back to the hotel and then continue from the last gate you entered. Pretty useful.
Past the gate, we find ourselves stopped by some strange thorn barrier that won't go away. With no fiend nearby, we backtrack a bit and find a large clearing with some treasure chests containing status buffs. Past that area is a pretty tough miniboss, a gargoyle-like creature that can knock you around like a ragdoll if you aren't clever with your dodges (this is where Sophia comes in very handy) and who can summon pillars of flame, which is particularly unpleasant for Alvaro and Rise, who are both very vulnerable to fire.
VexQ08s.jpg

This is basically the first instance where the game tells you to stop thinking you're playing a button-masher.
With some patience and smart dodges in-between attacks, the fiend is finally killed and the thorny barrier is gone, allowing us to progress. But progress isn't our only reward, as we are presented with a very large treasure chest containing... a lot of blue blood. Which of course begs the question as to who put that blood in there in the first place...
Going further in, we are beset by some spider-like fiends who make the ground sticky with their web and thus slow our movements down by quite a lot. Annoying, to be sure, but nothing we can't overcome.
After vanquishing the spiders, we enter the final area and sure enough, we find Lilysse, who is unconscious, but yet unharmed. Of course, her kidnapper doesn't take long to show up. He is angry that we interrupted his mealtime and concludes that there is no other choice but to eat Arnice, too. Enter the first boss of the game: the Blueblood Dragon!
PItHt33.jpg
You know a game means business when a freaking dragon is the first boss you fight...

This guy has some very nasty attacks. From swiping with his claws to hitting you with his tail and tentacles, to quickly rushing from one side of the arena to the other, to creating a burst of energy around him, he can quickly dispatch you if he catches you off-guard. His battle theme, by the way, is amazing. Take a listen, if you want.
Every boss in this game has its own battle theme, by the way. We'll get to the others when we get there. Trust me.
Anyway, chipping the dragon down to half-health (the bastard actually managed to take down Rise), a cutscene interrupts the fight and Arnice is knocked unconscious. She awakens in a strange place and surrounded by a strange black fog.
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Once she gets up, we are greeted by a truly gigantic dark shadow with two glowing red orbs where its eyes would be. In a very smooth, almost gentlemanly tone, the figure introduces itself to us as... the Nightlord himself.
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Yup, that just happened.
Arnice, of course, can't believe it, so the Nightlord says that she should test him to see if he is "the jesting sort". After that, he makes a demonic-looking sword appear in front of Arnice and orders her to attack him with it. She touches it and some of her blood drips to the ground. It's purple, to which the Nightlord says that she "has been touched by [his] blood" and concludes that, since purple blood is the union between human's red and demon's blue blood, she must be a half-demon.
Arnice then drops this bit of truth:
KDTJXGr.jpg
Then, she takes up the sword and indeed manages to bisect the Nightlord. He laughs, impressed by Arnice' display of skill, then he retells the game's backstory and says that as his blood rained down upon the Earth, Arnice was made a half-demon...

Remember: that backstory happened in the 11th century. Nights of Azure takes place 800 years after that.

The Nightlord then tells us that no one is safe from the Night and that Night will never disappear with a very, VERY creepy close-up of his eyes.
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The stuff of nightmares, right here...

Back in the real world, Arnice wakes up and finds herself in the possession of the demonic sword the Nightlord had granted her as well as newfound power she didn't have before. The Blueblood Dragon is shocked at the sight of the blade and we take up the fight once again. 
oeKLE8C.jpg

The game now teaches us about another mechanic: transformation. Once the transformation gauge is filled, Arnice can transform in battle for a period of time until the gauge is empty again. The kind of being she transforms into is dependent on the Servans you possess at the time. Our transformation for the party we currently have is the Demon Form, which transforms Arnice into a red being of hellfire.
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Did somebody order roasted dragon?

But even with this newfound power, the Blueblood Dragon still puts up quite a fight and manages to take out Rise, Ace, and Sophia (may also have something to do with the fact that I had to take screenshots during the battle) before he finally goes down. We are handsomely rewarded with a crapton of Blue Blood, some equip-able items and some money.
With the dragon dead, we can finally go to Lilysse, who thankfully wakes up and practically glomps Arnice the moment she sees her.
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Aww...

The happy reunion is quickly interrupted by yet another phone ringing. Lilysse picks up this time and we hear what is possibly Arnice from the future saying that she had no idea that she would regret not having picked up the phone herself on that day.
The pair returns to the hotel after this with a somewhat heavy atmosphere hanging between them.

What was the phone call about? Well, that we will discuss next time. This part is already pretty dang long. I have played ahead for a bit and already prepared screenshots for the next few parts, so I should be able to get another one out tomorrow. See you then!

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Didn't think I'd keep my promise, eh?
Maybe I'm putting these out too fast.

Let's Play Nights of Azure Part 3: Chapter 1 Interlude

So, Arnice saved Lilysse, but the mood is everything but happy. Lilysse seems trouble, so Arnice asks her what's wrong. The result? She's been chosen as the next Saint to keep the Nightlord sealed away. Imagine someone calling you and saying "Yo, you should like, totally save the world and stuff."
Predictably, Arnice is vehemently against this, trying to convince Lilysse to reject the duty, but equally predictably, Lilysse says she wants to do it if it helps save the world. In addition, it seems her power is about equal to that of the First Saint, who defeated the Nightlord 800 years ago. And we get a bit of backstory on the ritual and the Saints:
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Moments after this, Arnice receives a letter from a person calling themselves her "Guide", who has new orders for her. Cruel orders, as Arnice is now tasked with finding the Blue Altar and offer Lilysse as a sacrifice there to keep the Night at bay. We also learn that, should the Red Moon Milada reach its full state, the Eternal Night will envelop the world and all of humanity will fall into an eternal slumber, never to wake up. Furious, Arnice crumples up the letter and tosses it.
Next, we see Lilysse purifying the Blue Blood that has accumulated inside Arnice, who is thinking about the contents of the letter and
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I'd hate to be put in that situation. Jesus...

The next day starts off a bit lighter in tone. Lilysse has apparently asked Simon for a job at the hotel. Though reluctant, it appears she was so insistent that he couldn't help but agree and now Lilysse is a maid, basically. She helps out with cooking, cleaning, all kinds of stuff.
Gameplay-wise, we have now entered the Interlude phase, which always happens at the end of a chapter. It's a bit of a breather-level, so to speak, where events for the coming chapters are set up and we're basically free to do whatever the heck we feel like. Yay!
The very first thing we do is investigate a suspicious object on one of the tables...
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It says cupcake, but even the game itself doesn't seem to sure about all of this...

We also find another note on the front desk, which reads as follows:
When I wash clothes, the water is ice cold. When I turn on lamps, they flicker so brightly. Also, I learned demons come from nature, and they awakened long before I became a priest, having their own free will. Are they stronger here because this is where the Night was sealed?
Need ingredients for hand lotion. Don't forget the mugwort.


As it occurs, we just happen to have some Mugwort on hand (it's an equip-able item that prevents the status effect "Bleed"), so we deposit it where the note is.
Talking to Simon next reveals that a mysterious benefactor is apparently willing to send additional funding. Arnice doesn't want to accept, because she only wants to accept money she's earned. Thus, Lilysse has the bright idea to have Arnice work at the hotel, too. Simon on the other hand, has a better idea and unlocks the Quest system for us. Our first quest? Go to a place in the Outskirts.
WuBhEc1.jpg
I'm not complaining about some easy money.

So, we go back the way we came when we were looking for the hotel and where Lilysse was kidnapped, complete the quest and return. Easy!
As an added bonus, our Servan group gains one level each, so they're all at Level 2 now.
Returning to the hotel, it seems Simon has something to ask of us as he takes us to the elevator to one of the lower floors. Arnice seems pretty excited about going to the basement and wonders if they're going to a wine cellar, a treasure vault or some secret passageway.
Girl has imagination, that's for sure.
Suddenly, the elevator starts shaking and Simon informs us that this always happens when it passes the 50th floor.
... The 50th floor?!?
zbpsa26.jpg
I haven't counted them all, but I am fairly certain that there is significantly LESS than 50 buttons on there, much less more than even that.

Arnice concludes that this being a Curia-run hotel, she should expect absolutely anything (what the hell kind of organization is the Curia, anyway?).
Reaching the bottom floor, we end up in this lovely place:
HQjuOhC.jpg

Simon explains that, on the 99th floor (you read that right, yes) used to be a waiting room for Servans whose Agents went missing. They never returned and so Simon asks Arnice to keep the Servans entertained by fighting with and against them in various challenges. This is basically a practice arena to familiarize yourself with the game's mechanics in a safe environment, which is appreciated. It also teaches you some of the finer aspects of the game mechanics such as switching between two parties, when to time using Servan abilities etc. It even offers rewards for clearing the challenges. The more points you earn, the better the reward.
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Knight of Azure... GET IT?!

After we clear the challenge to... somewhat middling success, Lilysse stands in the middle of the arena, saying that she should clean the place. Judging how big it is
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Good luck with that, I suppose...

Back in the lobby, we run into Sophia, our newest team member, if you re-member (ha!), who comments on the size of the hotel and how well suited to playing all kinds of games it is. Her favorites are apparently tag and hide-and-seek. She invites Arnice to participate, but sadly, the game won't let us. 0/10 worst game evar!!1one1eleven
Going back to the quest counter, we find some new ones to take on.

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... Leo, is that you?

Returning from the quests (I didn't make any screenshots, because quests have little to nothing to do with the main story), we run into Lilysse, who is apparently done with cleaning the arena. I'm legitimately impressed at how fast she was...
Arnice once more asks her whether or not she's sure she wants to be a Saint, to which Lilysse replies that she has been watching Arnice do her best at hunting down fiends for so long that now she wants to do her best at something, too. Then, she invites Arnice to take a stroll around town while it is still daytime, like they had promised each other at the beginning of the game. The game now cuts to two mysterious men who apparently just arrived on Ruswal Island.
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Very suspicious...

After Arnice and Lilysse return and go their separate ways, Arnice enters the elevator. Suddenly, the Rosier Clock starts acting up and the elevator transports us to...V2fdtLg.jpg
Well... doesn't this seem familiar (refer to screencap #14 of Part 2)?

No Nightlord this time, though, only the black cat (how did you get here?!?) and a mysterious young woman who bears a striking resemblance to Lilysse. She informs us that this is a place that exists within a dream and is called the "Altar of Jorth". Jorth just so happens to be the name of the Demon Sword Arnice is currently wielding. She then goes on to tell us that she is the Guardian of the sword and she seems to be very knowledgeable about Arnice, the Blue Blood, and the Curia. The game calls her "Maiden of Jorth" from here on out, so I will, too. It is here that we learn that Arnice was sent fiend hunting, because her body is resistant to the Blue Blood, which also explains how she became a half demon. The Maiden of Jorth informs us that we have three ways to store the Blue Blood we collect: the first is the Rosier Clock, which can freeze the blood for a limited amount of time until it is purified by a priestess; the second is a ritual known as Desden, which is a ritual in which the Blue Blood is offered to the Demon Sword, Jorth (or Yorudo, as it is called in Japanese); and the last one is Arnice herself, who can seal away the Blue Blood within herself using the strength of her heart alone.
But she also says that the more Blue Blood Arnice collects, the closer she becomes to succumbing to the darkness (i.e. her demonic urges) herself. On the other hand, more Blue Blood makes her stronger, strong enough to fight the Nightlord himself eventually, which is why the Curia has allowed Arnice to do with the Blue Blood as she sees fit.

To make a long story short, we have unlocked the level up feature. 8bbIpcT.jpg
Spirit, Finesse, Stamina, and Charm are used to unlock useful skills such as the two you can see on the right. It's also the way to unlock the ability to take on multiple quests at once to a maximum of three.

After the ritual is done, the dream nearly ends, so the Maiden of Jorth gives us a choice what to ask her. Either about the relationship between Arnice and Lilysse or about the Maiden of Jorth's identity. These choices come up multiple times throughout the game and influence the ending you get from what I know and remember. I don't know the exact process, though.
In any case, asking for Arnice and Lilysse's relationship improves that very thing and it also leads to us learning that the Maiden of Jorth looks like Lilysse, because Arnice is worried about her and this feeling has influenced the Maiden's appearance.
And thus, the dream ends, but the Maiden promises that we will be meeting again very soon. From now on, we can access the Altar of Jorth from the elevator and level up there, provided we have enough blood to do it.

And with that, I will end this part here. There was a lot to unpack this time and I have to keep it a bit shorter today, because real life is a b**** like that (not that anyone actually cares). Expect the next part when things have calmed down a bit.

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Let's Play Nights of Azure Part 04: A ring, letters, and a new mission

So, after the scene at the Altar of Jorth ends, we get a cut to a dark room and a canopy bed, in which we see a shadowy figure talking to the Black Cat. The figure has the voice of an old lady and is labelled as "Pope". She asks the cat whether or not the letter (presumably the one that ordered Arnice to sacrifice Lilysse at the Blue Altar) was delivered safely and that it they cannot afford to fail for the sake of the world. Also
mGmZwPN.jpg
That's not suspicious at all. Nope.

The next morning, Lilysse kicks Arnice out of their room, because she wants to get dressed for work. Arnice complies, albeit not without stating the very obvious fact that she shouldn't have to worry, because they're both ladies. Still, no getting dressed fanservice scene for us, as we are sent to the lobby, where our Servans and Simon are. Simon seems a little stressed today and Arnice thinks he's mad at something, perhaps at Lilysse. Simon denies it.
Shortly after, Lilysse appears and Arnice informs her that Simon is just too polite to show how mad he is. Simon denies it again. As Lilysse heads off to work, Simon tells Arnice that Lilysse has been making a lot of mistakes lately. We get a flashback to her falling over while carrying tea cups and we see the origin of the weird cupcake (which is still sitting there on the table, by the way).
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Serious question: Would you eat that?

Simon then remarks that he's noticed that Lilysse has been staring wistfully at her left hand, as if she lost something that was supposed to be there. Lilysse says that her ring, a lucky charm of sorts, has gone missing ever since she got kidnapped by the Blueblood Dragon. Arnice suddenly snaps and shouts that Lilysse's ring was eaten by the Black Cat. The latter leaves the hotel in a hurry, so our next task is to go after it and retrieve Lilysse's ring.
But first, we'll do some quests to get a bit stronger. One of these leads us back to the Old Count's Rose Garden, where we see an old "friend" once again:
PItHt33.jpg

Yup, you can rematch the bosses in this game to your heart's content, which is great, because these guys give a crapton of Blue Blood (which is not only needed to level up, but also to Actualize new Servans) and you can practice some maneuvers for future boss battles. In the Blueblood Dragon's case, the fight goes a lot easier than last time, because even a single level up is already a quite significant boost for your stats in this game. Meaning that we can finally avenge Ace, Rise, and Sophia for the previous humiliation. Go down, Mr. Dragon!

After the Dragon is vanquished, we return to the hotel again, where we witness Simon give Lilysse a lesson in customer service. He also calls Arnice over for some aesthetic advice. He wants to know which picture would fit the wall best and we get to choose which one to pick.
7MajqCG.jpg
A landscape painting sounds nice, doesn't it? Let's go with that.
Simon thanks us for the input and returns to work.

On our last quest, we also found a new Fetish, a Black Widow, which we can transform into one of those spider things. So, we get a new companion! Meet Moro, the Spider.
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This guy can weave a web that can slow down enemy movement. Very useful against some of the more slippery fiends.

Still...
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I doubt a man-sized spider right at the entrance is good advertisement for a hotel. But maybe that's just me...
Luckily, Moro is pretty harmless and lazy, he's just happy that he can rest peacefully at the hotel.

After this side stuff is out of the way, we can finally go and look for Lilysse's ring. The trail leads us from the Central Plaza (which we used to get to the hotel at the beginning of the game) to the Subway Station (the places are connected this time, so we can just exit the hotel, go to Central Plaza and then head off from there), which is a new area for us to explore. This area has my personal favorite area theme in this game. Take a listen, if you want: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRJQfpfGifU
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Here, we find another memory (the glowing white orb on the right of the above picture). Picking it up reveals this message:
To be able to walk alongside Arnice like this... I'm so happy.

A bit further into the area, we run into a Bisque-type fiend that tries to escape from us, but smacks into a wall while doing so. Arnice laments that she suddenly doesn't feel like battling the poor thing anymore, as she notices that the fiend has a ribbon that says "Collantine". The fiend wakes up and informs us that it has no intentions of fighting and instead asks what it can do for us. Arnice asks back if it is a merchant, which the fiend affirms. But it won't take our money from us, instead it wants to get paid in Blue Blood.
It also sells Fetishes to us... Uhm...
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Nevermind that, look how adorable it is.

Arnice thanks Collantine for the opportunity, to which the fiend is at first confused, but the expresses happiness over the name "Collantine". Perhaps it didn't have one previously...?
After spending a ton of blood on various useful items (among these a Fetish known as a Toy Soldier, which we will use later on), we move on through the Central Station and the Subway line itself. But instead of describing it to you, I'll just show you this time (I have decided to show more gameplay scenes from now on):
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Did they even have subways in the 19th century?

Anyway, on our way, we run into one of these things right here:
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This basically says "you can't go this way yet, but you will be able to later on." It's worth keeping these things in mind while playing, so you don't get lost or confused. When a new path opens, it will usually show you in a small cutscene when you enter the area, but I believe it's worth keeping tabs on these regardless. Just something for you guys if you want to try the game out for yourselves.

At the end of the line, we finally catch up to the Black Cat, but something else is also here.
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This guy does put up a fight, but compared to the Blueblood Dragon, he's dispatched relatively quickly. He's not a fully-fledged boss fight, after all.

After defeating the fiend, as if to reward us, the Black Cat spits out the ring we've been looking for and leaves. Returning to the hotel, we give Lilysse her ring back and she's happy to have it returned to her, as it is a lucky charm of sorts. She hands it back to Arnice and tells her she should hold onto it for her. Arnice is confused at this gesture.
A short time after that, another letter arrives and the next few scenes speak for themselves, really.
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(she crumples up the letter in anger)
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... upon which the Black Cat makes like a banana and splits as quickly as any cat can. XD

In our room, we also meet Rise, our Alraune, who asks Arnice to take a nap with her, which leads to this:
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Aww...

Having collected enough Blue Blood during that last mission, we can visit the Altar of Jorth again to level up. The Maiden of Jorth also introduces us to another ability of the Demon Sword: the ability to transform itself into different shapes. Thus unlocks another aspect to the combat system: weapon change. We can now transform Jorth into dual daggers, which are weak, but very fast with multiple hits per attack and thus are quite useful against foes with a lot of defense (as you'll only deal 1 damage per hit, anyway).
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If you've ever played Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends or Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate and have used the character Wang Yi, the way the daggers work in combat will feel very familiar.

Back in the hotel, we are now introduced to Daytime Activities, which can earn us skill points needed to learn and upgrade skills (remember the Charm, Finesse, Stamina, and Spirit stats from before?). These are done automatically without any player input while you're out exploring, but you can decide what you want to increase, which is pretty neat.
Arnice receives another letter, to which she reacts like this:
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Poor Arnice.

According to the letter, the Curia has sent someone to aid her and that this someone is supposedly very knowledgeable about the Night. It also reminds her that she should make haste in locating the Blue Altar, as the Night gets stronger with each passing day. As a P.S., the sender offers to aid her with her blood cravings, which Arnice gets angry over, crumples up the letter and tosses it away (this is kind of a running gag in this game, if you hadn't noticed). Her reasoning for not accepting the Curia's aid?
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That.

Back in the lobby, Simon is gone and only Lilysse is here. On the front desk, we find another note, which reads as follows:
Priests answer the requests of the Curia and care for agents. Their main duty is to pray using the Rosier Clock to freeze Blue Blood for a period of time...
I must be careful. All I can do is pray, but I must not get discouraged. I was hired by Simon. I need to work hard, so Arnice can live leisurely... So I can cherish her smile.

 

At the eating tables, where the ominous cupcake still stands tall, we find some weird luggage.
HNvFTDc.jpg

Is the person the Curia sent already here?
Asking Lilysse about it reveals that Simon went off somewhere and that she has received a phone call from someone, who only said they were at a place with a "ferris wheel". Lilysse says that this might refer to the Fender Wood Amusement Park, where an outbreak of black butterflies supposedly happened recently. In the hopes of finding the mysterious person and perhaps a way to seal the night without using a Saint, Arnice heads off, leading us into Chapter 2: Unknown Messenger

And with that, Part 4 ends. I made this one a bit longer to make up for the cop-out I presented you with last time. I hope you enjoyed and see you in the next one!
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