Published on May 22nd, 2017 | by Peter Freeman0
Nier: Automata Review
Summary: Nier: Automata is the sleeper hit of this generation. It's a game that hides one of the best science fiction stories in year within its core.
Nier Automata is a special game. It might not seem like it on the outset, but after a twenty hour playthrough I can say without a doubt that Nier deserves to be played.
The setup is simple and very anime in nature. The humans are gone. Aliens came thousands of years ago and took over the planet with their robot army. In an attempt to survive, the humans fled to the moon. Now they send down androids in order to try and retake the planet back from the aliens and their robot army.
You play as a 2B, a badass android who just hates to work with a partner. 2B’s attitude towards 9S, her partner, is half the reason her character is so fun and interesting. The same can’t be said for 9S, who whines like a love starved teenager for most of the game. He becomes vaguely more interesting as the game goes on, but boy is rough to deal with for the first ten hours or so.
On the onset, this all sounds like a wildly stupid plot. How could something like that be worth playing? The thing is, the game is a vessel through which to discusses themes like “what is life’s purpose” and “what does it mean to exist?”. The existentialism that’s found deep in this game is what makes it so important. And the way it’s told goes a long way towards why these themes work.
I would go into more detail if I could, but aside from the brief synopsis above, everything else would be a spoiler. It’s worth it to just go in as blind as possible so that everything is new and fresh to you. There are some endings that won’t work if you know they’re coming. Especially the final, FINAL ending, which left me stunned.
Not everything is perfect though. The gameplay is simple and isn’t really what you may have come to expect from developer Platinum games. It’s more or less a button masher with the occasional heavy combo. Because of this it is worth it to play the game on easy so you don’t have to deal much with the combat and just play through the story. Customizing your character’s chip loadout is neat, but it doesn’t add too much in the end.
Nier has an open world and there are a number of side quests but a lot of them are extremely boring. Too many of them are basic fetch quests that don’t tell much of a story. The fact that you don’t unlock fast travel until at least four hours into the game is an utter nightmare. The zones are so large that you can’t help but dash from end to end, wasting a ton of time trying to get to the next mission in the game.
Thankfully just about everything else in Nier is awesome. The visuals – while not perfect at times – have a great style to them. The contrast between the androids you play as and the enemy robots is stark. The copied city, an area late in the game, is one of the most interesting in the game.
The soundtrack, is simply one of the best I’ve heard in a long time. The lyrics fluctuate between English, Japanese, French, and then some combination of the three. Many times you can barely understand what the lyrics are, but the music is so charming that it doesn’t matter. Much of the music dynamic as well, quickly swelling up as combat begins and easily calming down when you go back to exploration. And the ending theme, is a somber testament to everything that happened to you in the hours before. It really helps to punctuate one of the best moments in the game.
It’s hard to properly explain why one should experience Nier Automata without spoiling it. The best thing I can say is that it’s worth your time and doesn’t disappoint. If you enjoy hard sci-fi that deals with themes of purpose and why we exist, but does so while wrapped in the aesthetics of sci-fi anime, then Nier is for you.
Game was played and reviewed on a base model PS4.