An open world ARPG to set the bar.
note: I haven’t completed the first playthrough as of yet. I hear theres three playthroughs to complete the game fully.
Nier Automatica is a truly beautiful game. Not just visually either. The sound of combat, the voice acting, the music is all spot on. There’s not a moment I have not enjoyed. It’s serious at one instance then goofy another. It deserves more screentime than it got. It’s also very clever in gameplay.
Set in the year 11945 AD, the world of Nier is slightly different to the one we know and loathe. There was a war between humans and aliens long ago, the aliens sending robots to fight the war. Humans lost, legged it to the moon and began creating androids to send down from the satellite home dubbed the ‘Bunker’ to take back the planet. Nier Auto follows the story of one of these androids, known as 2B.
2B is joined by 9S, a male type android who shows a lot more emotion than 2B. You head down to Earth and begin your fight against the machines and make the planet habitable for the human race. Only not everything is as it seems. The robots you are sent to cut into tiny pieces of metal talk. Mainly about love and joy and fear. Which immediately makes you think twice about cutting these ’emotionless tin cans’ to ribbons. I don’t want to talk about the story too much as it’s something to be experienced yourself. Which makes reviewing it harder than usual. However I am willing to state that the melancholy feeling as you explore this tragic world and the denizens within is done really well. Robots and androids just trying to get by, to have a purpose. To be left alone. The tone of this game is spot on. Even when your completing quests and beating bosses you never quite feel like your doing the right thing.
So as I’m going to tell you precisely jack shit about the story I suppose I should talk about the gameplay. Luckily this is easy as this game was made by Platinum Games, the guys and gals behind Bayonetta which if you remember, has fucking awesome combat. 2B moves like a dancer, mixing light and heavy attacks seamlessly as well as a beautiful dodge and counter mechanic. The aim is to never get hit, to move between attacks like your a god damn Jedi Master. It takes some learning but you soon find yourself in the flow, taking out hordes of robots without a scratch. You have the option of different weapons and weapon types as well. Go in hard with giant swords and spears or dart around with daggers and swords. Or mix them up as you see fit. Weapons can also be upgraded to hit harder and provide additional stats.
It’s not all just melee combat though as the game will transition seamlessly at certain points into a bullet hell scenario. The camera work during this is fantastic and suddenly finding yourself dodging orbs fired at you from all directions adds to the fights on another level. That’s not even mentioning the hacking aspect, which turns it into a retro style arcade game. It’s these little touches that keep the game fresh and exciting.
Along with weapon upgrades, you can also upgrade yourself. Makes sense as your an android. You can upgrade your chip to improve certain abilities, like critical hit chance or evasion. Interestingly, there’s some mods in your chip that you cannot remove as they are core chips that make you work as an android which is a nice touch.
There’s a lot of running around the remnants of the world and plenty of side quests to keep you busy. My favorite is a little robot who claims to be a great warrior who you decimate in the first fight with him. As you keep bringing him scrap he gets harder and harder until he is an absolute monster. All this takes place in world torn apart by war and nature slowly claiming the world back. It’s a beautiful, depressing place.
The music is one of the best soundtracks I have ever heard. From running around the world in different environments to the tempo ramping up as you enter battle. All fantastically done, especially the boss fights. The boss fight music in this game is on another level. It’s timing is perfect, its tone and speed spot on. It builds the fight up to epic proportions.
Now I know the game has several endings requiring multiple playthroughs and I spoke to a friend regarding this and he says it’s different each playthrough. So ‘new-game+’ is essentially a continuation of the story, adding bits here and there and rounding out the mysterious story.
I can’t wait.