Review by: Night Ninja
|Action JRPG||Platinum Games||Square – Enix|
There are many things a game can do right, usually, it’s pretty easy to keep to the formula that everyone else uses, but then there are those games that deviate from the norm and can either be a mess or a masterpiece. NieR: Automata I can agree is the latter of this, being a spiritual sequel to the original NieR that was on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 back in 2010, that was a spin-off of the Drakengard series that was all directed by Yoko Taro. For years this man has been gaining a following for one major thing, and that is his storytelling. What about the gameplay of these titles you may ask? They have all usually been poor in the gameplay, but fantastic in design, music, and story. It was thanks to Platinum Games taking over developing the game that really saved NieR: Automata from just being shelved with the rest of his games as having those pros, but also the cons that have kept Taro’s work from being given the recognition his cult following has. It needs to be said, however, that this game has a very unique way of revealing the story to you, as it happens over multiple playthroughs with canon endings that you can easily tell happens, and many other endings more so added in as joke endings. This is a misconception that many media outlets that reviewed this game didn’t get, only rating what they played being the first canon ending, leading many to unfairly judge the title. I will say that this game is very niche with its design and the demographic it aims for, but believe me when I say this game is to be enjoyed even as a leap of faith from what is normally played.
The story takes place in the year 11945 AD in a post-apocalyptic world where humans have gone to the moon and earth had been invaded by aliens, having waged war for years using machines against humanity’s own androids. The biggest players in this war regarding the androids are YoRHa, having the goals of eradicating the alien threat fully and to save the world for man kind’s sake. The initial story may be simple, and for many, that is a plus, but its what is done in this world, with the setting, and the use of philosophy with many other elements to tell a strong and compelling story. Even some of the side quests leave you questioning things and growing more invested as time goes by, the deep and hard questions asked and the thinking never really stop even after completing the game. As to be expected of a Platinum Games title, the combat is fantastic and has the level of polish you’d get from Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, but this time it’s a full-on action RPG. Not only does it handle the story well, have the amazing action that Platinum is known for, and makes you think; but the characters are handled extremely well even, some being references either biblical or philosophical, and you take control of YoRHa units of the Battle, Support, and Attack types being: 2B, 9S, and A2. This is where the multiple playthroughs come in, you start the first as 2B, capable of close range combat with a variety of weapons from swords, spears, axes, claymores, and even using your bare fists if you wish. 2B can carry 2 of these weapons, you can mix and match as the heavy and light attacks you can use, switching them on the fly to gain plenty of different combos.
On top of the close range combat you also have a pod that follows and supports you in battle, they have 3 different types with their own main firepower, one that has a constant rate of fire like a machine gun, one with much less range but is a constant electrical current, and finally one that fires lock-on missiles. They can be upgraded and you have the secondary firepower being anything from buffs, shielding, and healing; to new attacks like a mega laser or even a giant fucking hammer! All around combat has plenty of aspects to help it be unique from other titles, while also having the flare of action games like Devil May Cry, but it doesn’t stop at just this style of gameplay, this game is also a shooter. In sections mostly scripted you are either hacking or in a transformable jet or mech, usually in top-down or left to right style shooters where you take out the opposition by firing back and avoiding as much fire as possible. I will say now that this isn’t usually my type of genre or cup of tea, but it was genuinely fun even when frustrated and I never felt like it was bullshit, that it was my fault if I failed. It is however much less frequent in 2B’s playthrough, but once you move onto 9S, not only is his campaign initially VERY similar to 2B’s when you go through a good chunk of the same quests and story but still gives enough insight to keep it engaging.
The biggest difference between 2B and him, however, is his strength in hacking, having only 1 weapon at a time, his heavy attack is replaced with the ability to freely hack, doing so can instantly kill the enemy or take a good chunk of his health away, you could also turn the enemy from hostile to a full-on fighting Allie, or you can take full control of the enemy and even fool others to get the jump on them. After completing both playthroughs you unlock the final one, as you start with 2B and 9S but eventually A2 comes in replacing 2B for the remainder of the game, playing just like her, but with added features like taunting and a bigger focus on physical combat. On top of that, this game is fucking gorgeous! Definitely one of the most impressive games I’ve seen graphically as of late, running at 60fps with very rare drops on a base PS4 console, no Pro benefits! I must warn any PC adopters however, the port was butchered and never got the fine tuning it needed, but I have heard that there is a mod out there that fixes the problems, do proceed with caution when in regards to the PC version. Upon the fantastic gameplay and story, the fantastic graphics helping bring the world to life, and on top of that another staple with Taro’s games is the music always being of TOP quality, and this game doesn’t disappoint. From the theme that plays in the City Ruins area when you begin the game, other fantastic exploration music in each area and combat variations of said tracks, to some of the most bombastic and explosive boss themes I’ve heard in a long time; really only Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts coming close with such quality in music, and this game got last year’s award at The Game Awards for best soundtrack over the likes of Persona 5, Super Mario Odyssey, and Zelda Breath of the Wild. One of my personal favorites is Wretched Weaponry, the theme of the factory area you start the game in, being eerie and unsettling, and as the battle variant kicks in you get more pumped up, epic, bombastic, and ready to bash all the machine’s heads in. On top of that, I must make a quick note to mention the voice acting performances of the game, they are all great! It doesn’t matter if it’s the Japanese dub or the English dub, either way, everyone does fantastic and gives great performances, including in the leading roles! I won’t deny, this game ended up making me cry at the end, not just for the fantastic story that I enjoyed, and when you do get to the REAL ending, you’ll see why with how sincere and passionate of a game this is on top of what people had to do for me to help me finish it, once I’ve completed it at %100 and played the DLC, I will be giving up my save too for anyone else who will need it.
No this game isn’t perfect, but its imperfections, even my own tastes for game genres, it will not take away from the experience and the title overall, if you haven’t played this game yet then I insist you do, it’s a video game masterpiece that should be recognized as such for years to come!