Nights of Azure is a tragic love story. Players watch as Arnice, a half-human/half-demon knight, and her lifelong friend, a priestess named Lilysse, fall in love, knowing all the while that life is conspiring to pull them apart. The very organization they serve, Curia, and the world in general, require the two to part. While it may seem like a clear cut case of questioning whether someone could sacrifice someone they love for the greater good, there’s another issue being debated. Nights of Azure asks you to decide between selfishness and selflessness.
Arnice and Lilysse love each other. We see examples of it throughout Nights of Azure. The women are tender with one another. Arnice risks her life for Lilysse. Lilysse openly admits her love for the woman she’s known and depended on for most of her life. Despite that bond, the two have very different attitudes toward Lilysse’s role as Curia’s saintly duty.
Lilysse acts as the control. As the saint, she’s appropriately selfless. She understands the state of the world and repercussions of her not fulfilling her duty. The Nightlord is about to be resurrected. The world will be covered by an endless night. Demons will end up having full rule and control over the land. She knows the life of one woman, especially someone who might have enough power in her to seal the Nightlord away forever, is worth sacrificing for the good of everyone else on Earth.
With Arnice, players are offered an outlet to make their own decision and come to their own conclusions regarding Lilysse’s fate. Nights of Azure sets her up as the more selfish of the two. When Lilysse gets the call, asking her to become the saint, Arnice’s narration says she wishes she’d been the one to answer the phone. People are told that, when the time comes, Arnice will be the one to sacrifice Lilysse on the Blue Altar. You’re set up as the one who tries to defy the odds to save the life of the one you love, even if it could doom everyone else. But, you’re also given the freedom to make decisions as Arnice and choices at the altar that may support Lilysse’s decision.
People are forced to think about what would be the right answer, all while participating in scenarios where they learn more about Lilysse as a person. You discover more things to love about her. As a bond grows between the two, you better understand the depth of their feelings and consequences of their actions. People who might have been okay with doing the right thing and allowing Lilysse to do her saintly duty could start wondering if one woman’s life is too great a sacrifice to make.
Of course, being a game, there’s a way to eventually have it all. A true ending unlocks after defeating Nights of Azure once and completing an additional scenario. But prior to that, people are forced to decide between selflessness and selfishness. They see the consequences of allowing the night to run unchecked throughout the game. Situations become more and more dire. When the time comes, they do have to make a choice and, at least for a few minutes while the ending rolls, live with it.
It’s a powerful decision, one that goes beyond right and wrong. Because really, both answers fall into a moral grey area. Sacrificing Lilysse means committing murder, even if it is for the greater good. Saving Lilysse condemns everyone else on Earth, but keeping your lover alive. Even though the one is more selfish than the other, is that really the bad choice? Is being selfish good sometimes, when it saves someone’s life? Can being too selfless be a detrimental quality? Especially since Curia only suggests Lilysse’s power could be stronger than the first saint and enough to seal away the Nightlord forever.
When Nights of Azure sends players down a road that could lead to possibly sacrificing a loved one for the good of all, it’s evoking powerful emotions. The game forces people to think about what they could and couldn’t do to save the world. There’s no easy answer, which perhaps makes the experience more satisfying. And, even though a true ending eventually supersedes any decisions a person might make, the journey one takes and debates they go through might make them a better person.