Time to hop into Gust's Action RPG, Yoru no Nai Kuni (The Land without Night). In the prologue we're given a brief introduction of the current state of the world. In the 11th century the Lord of Night was defeated by a single girl in combat, over the North Sea. When he died though, his cursed blood rained over the world and corrupted it, causing anyone and anything that came into contact with the 'blue blood' from the Lord of Night to become twisted, with living creatures becoming 'jayou' (evil spirits, basically) who transform and roam during the night and attack innocent people. This game takes place 800 years after that first battle with the Lord of Night - the church has priests who can purify the cursed blue blood as well as holy knights who fight off the jayou and collect the blood for purification. These holy knights can call on friendly servant spirits, 'Servans' to assist them in battle.
The game opens with our protagonist, Arnas (see here for her weird 'official' name romanization - I think I'll wait until a localizer chooses an official name before I'd ever call her 'Anders'), on a boat to a secret island in the North Sea (a bit east of Great Britain) for more jayou extermination. As she gets off the boat, she's surprised to see that her priestess partner for this task is none other than her old friend from school, Lulliytis. Lulliytis is ecstatic to see Arnas again and they talk about what they've been up to since they last saw each other in Germany two years ago. Lulliytis has been traveling all around Europe during that time, while Arnas has been doing her jayou extermination in America.
Their reunion is cut off when they realize that jayou are present, so we hop right into our first mission of exterminating them on our way to the inn that the church set up as a base for us on this island. I like the pacing they went with here, there are a lot of battle mechanics to keep track of and they make sure to take it slow and introduce them one by one as you progress through the first map. My first impressions are that the game looks and feels very nice, since it's a PS4/PS3/Vita multiplatform game I figured the PS4 version might not be that optimized. It probably isn't, I'm sure it would look better if it was a PS4-exclusive, but it still looks pretty nice. They did a good job with the character models. I did notice a bit of slowdown a couple times during special attacks with lots of enemies on the screen, but nothing too bad.
Once we've finished our jayou extermination, Lulliytis takes the blood that Arnas has gathered and purifies it. Arnas notices a black cat following them, and Lulliytis said that she became friends with it while Arnas was fighting jayou just earlier, and it continues to follow them around. Suddenly Arnas and Lulliytis see a red moon in the sky, it's a second moon that serves as a gate between the world of spirits and our world. When the red moon becomes full, it's said that the land will be plunged into neverending night. A nearby powerful jayou says that the Lord of Night will awaken soon and swoops down, snatching up Lilliytis and flying away with her.
Arnas tries to pursue but loses track of the dragon-type jayou. She runs to the hotel that the church set up as a base for them, Hotel Ende, and asks for their help tracking down where it went. Inside she meets a polite ponytailed man in a suit who introduces himself as Simon, the manager of Hotel Ende (and her contact with the church from this island). He points her in the right direction and also tells her to make sure she stocks up on gear and items for the trip, leading to a bunch of tutorials about how to make use of the various facilities in Hotel Ende, and how to equip items on both Arnas and on her servans to increase their stats or change their abilities. There's also some notes on a table written by Lilliytis, she acted a bit casual about meeting Arnas again when they met earlier (like not remembering the exact date they last met and saying things like 'about 2 years, I guess' casually), but from her notes it's clear she's been thinking about Arnas a lot while they were apart, and she's also been doing research into ways of curing Arnas of her half-jayou condition. While normal humans have red blood and jayou have blue blood, Arnas has purple blood - a mix of both, the only known human to be exposed to the Lord of Night's blue blood and not be completely taken over by it.
Once I'm done equipping Arnas and a couple of her servans with some items, Arnas sets out to chase down the dragon from earlier and rescue Lulliytis. She runs into the same black cat from earlier, as well as a ring near the area that Lulliytis should be. Arnas picks up the ring, but the cat straight up devours it much to Arnas' surprise and disappointment. She's got more important things than a ring to worry about though, so it's time to start this rescue mission. This next area is a tutorial for controlling Arnas' servans. Servans cost Arnas' MP to summon, but once summoned they have their own separate MP bar and you can use their mana to order them to use special abilities like healing, reflecting damage, or just doing a special attack. You can also command them in battle to focus on specific enemies, to follow you, or to suck the blood of defeated enemies to gather more blue blood (Blood Points). These blood points can be used for a variety of things from strengthening Arnas herself to buying things from special stores.
We also learn how to recruit new servans - special items can be used to 'actualize' new servans back at base. We take a detour when we find one of those items to get a new servan on our team. Back to chasing after Lulliytis, we find her and the dragon that took her - a wave of power knocks Arnas back from the dragon and she slips unconscious for a moment, having a vision. In it, a dark being introduces himself to Arnas as the Lord of Night, and shows interest in her purple mixed blood. He tells Arnas that nothing can stop the coming night, but gives her a special sword that he says will come in handy - she uses it to attempt to slice him in half, and he remarks on how nostalgic it feels, just like 800 years ago. The Lord of Night makes Arnas' jayou blood react and she gets her first 'transformation' demon form (explained in the tutorials - once the transformation bar is full, Arnas can change forms for a limited time and the new forms have various different abilities, for now we just have the one demon form).
Arnas wakes back up and she's still got the sword from her vision in hand. With the sword and her new demon transformation, she's able to defeat the dragon in the game's first boss battle. The dragon has a lot of scary-looking attacks that should be dodged, but since he's the first boss even if you get hit by them it doesn't hurt too bad, and the demon form is extremely effective against him so it's pretty easy to clean house with him. Arnas saves Lulliytus and they're about to head back to the hotel when Lulliytus answers an ominous phone call from a nearby phone booth, with Arnas not getting to hear the conversation.
When they get back to the hotel, Arnas notices that Lilliytis has been acting weird ever since that phone call and insists on being told what it was about - Lilliytis finally gives in and answers that she was asked by the church to become the next Saint. Every 10 years, a new Saint must be chosen and sacrificed to keep the Lord of Night sealed, and Lilliytis was chosen because she's got so much potential that (from what the church told her, anyway) her sacrifice might even permanently seal away the Lord of Night. Arnas isn't happy about this and tells her to reject to offer right away, but Lilliytis already decided that she's going to do it. She asks Arnas to continue to protect her until that time comes. Arnas is clearly not happy going along with this and it attracts the attention of the church, who have made some secret preparations and backup plans in case Arnas or Lilliytis decides to try to mess things up. That black cat from earlier is clearly in on the scheme.
In Arnas' dreams, she's visited by a miko from the church - she looks just like Lilliytis, but the miko tells Arnas that her appearance is an illusionary one mostly affected by Arnas herself, so the reason she looks like Lilliytis is probably because Arnas thinks of her a lot. Anyway, she tells Arnas that the church has given their okay for her to use the blue blood she collects any way she sees fit - she can purify it, offer it to the demon sword Yorudo, or use it to power herself up as she's the only known person to be able to withstand the cursed blood, and the more of it she uses the more powerful she'll become. The tutorial has us use some of it to level up, Arnas gains some points that can be spent later on learning and improving skills to use in battle.
The elevator in Hotel Ende can also take us to the 99th basement floor where there's an arena set up with various challenges. Each challenge has different reward levels and conditions - for example, you might get 1-star for clearing a challenge with 500 points, 2 stars for 1500 points, and a full 3 stars for 2000+ points. Each tier comes with one-time rewards such as items, money, blood, etc. The initial challenges are good for getting used to various game mechanics like dodging, ordering servans around, transforming, and using certain types of attacks since sometimes the victory conditions demand that you only use certain abilities. The lobby of Hotel Ende also has jobs that Arnas can take to make some extra money. So far so good, I'm looking forward to seeing how it gets when I get a lot more transformations, servans, skills and abilities to play with.
Random JRPG blogging about the games I'm currently playing.