Yoko Taro(Drakengard, Nier) and Platinum Games(Bayonetta, Vanquish) have teamed up, and decided that the sequel to Nier should have all the stylized action to go along with some fantastic storytelling. Throw in a great art direction and soundtrack, and you get a game that is easily in the running for game of the year.
As I had stated in a previous Game Dash article, Nier: Automata was on my list of games to play. I have heard good things about it so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about-A, and B- how this game could tear me away from Final Fantasy XIV, or even contend with Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
At first glance I will admit, I chuckled at the amount of “fan service” our main character named 2b received in the form of the barely revealing top and practically nothing form of a skirt. I watch a decent amount of anime, so this is nothing new here, but I wonder if it could deter some of the western audience from playing such a wonderful game. I will tell you here and now, don’t pass this game up. Perhaps I should elaborate.
Do you need to play the Drakengard series, or the first Nier to enjoy this one? No, But at least read up on a quick recap to understand how Yoko Taro weaves multiple story lines into what if scenarios that can spin off into different games. A certain ending of Drakengard could lead you to a certain timeline that results in the first Nier game. Then a certain ending in said Nier game could lead you to what is Nier Automata. Confused yet? That’s completely fine, because I honestly believe that Mr. Taro loves to create confusion and mystery to leave you to your own thoughts and feelings.
Enter Nier Automata- Far into the future, around 11945, Humanity is almost extinct. They have been fighting off machines, which invaded earth some time ago. Fearing that the battle would be lost, the last remaining human colonies set up a base on the moon, and began constructing androids to send to earth to fight for them. A space station called the bunker acts as the android’s home base, where memories are uploaded and restored to reconstruct whichever android had died down on earth. The bunker is almost this clean, white room of emotionless busy work. The whole android entity is called YoRHa, with a catchy slogan- Glory to mankind. So 2b gets sent to earth, meets up with 9s, and they investigate what is going on, and fight with the machines and……..
Sorry, was I going on there? This is where I get to tell you that Nier Automata takes you right into the action. You watch a brief cutscene, and you are right in the game. 2B can have two weapons equipped. One for more fast ranged attacks, and one for more heavy area damaging attacks. While you fight, a little machine known as a pod flies around you to assist. It can shoot at the enemy, do various actions such as a shield for 2b, or 2b can grab the pod while jumping to sort of float down long drops. I can tell you the combat is spot on, letting you battle it out while your pod is shooting, creating almost this bullet hell jumping and dodging while you fight. It is very fluid, and an all around blast to fight. And since this game is an open world action rpg, it is good that the action will keep you entertained.
But wait! There’s more! Every now and then 2b and 9s will get into YoRHa flight units, this sort of mech(think Macross almost) that can transform into a jet, or into this mech that can fight. Now you are confused again. Isn’t this an action game where you jump around and slash stuff? Well, you can also fly around and go into side scrolling and top down bullet hell type games, and once again, they are a blast to play through. Usually when a game tries to stretch itself into different genres, they all end up being bland, and no one type really stands out from the other. This isn’t the case here. The fighting, the platforming, the bullet hell scenarios are all fun to play. Changing it up every now and then keeps things fresh, and they aren’t overused to the point of getting bored with the same old song and dance routine. So while you are experiencing all of this, you can go into towns, opt to do side quests, and even learn that not all machines want to fight back. This game starts making you question what is really going on. And all the while 2b and 9s are asking the same questions. It is really engaging. Every time you enter a different area, there is this shift in the soundtrack. It is so unique, and I often find myself humming some of these tunes, and think about the area they were in, and the machines/androids I would interact with while traveling to each place. I am seriously doing my best not to spoil things here! I want to talk about it, but I would rather you experience it.
Want to upgrade your weapons, and chipset? Go do quests or grind drops from certain things. 2b’s chipset is more or less her gear. You can upgrade slots to fit more in, allowing you to mix and match to your playstyle. Want melee attacks to do more damage, while being able to dodge farther? Set it up. Or a whole bunch of things, like, when you kill an enemy, you get health back, or when you take damage, you are invulnerable for two seconds. Get more drops, run faster, have pod cooldown abilities shorten. There are tons of chips, and ways to upgrade them to make them stronger. The same goes for the various amounts of weapons you can get. From your fists and feet, to swords and spears, there will be a playstyle here for you. Need money? Go fishing! Yep, there are tons of little things to do. If you manage to get yourself killed, you will be reconstructed at the bunker and sent back down. Go and find your previous body, and collect your gear. If you happen to die before that, well, your stuff is gone. It is easy to reclaim your body, so don’t sweat it too much.
This is one of the few times where I will tell you that multiple playthroughs are worth your time. These aren’t just for different endings, you actually get to see what really happens while playing, and get to play through as other people to see from different perspectives. Like I said, I don’t want to spoil much, but I was blown away by who 2b and 9s really are, and what has happened during these years to drive the machines and androids/humanity to eradicate each other. This game is worth your time. It is worth your time over and over again.