Believe it or not, NieR: Automata is not the first game of the series. It is a sequel to NieR, the game released on PlayStation 3 in 2010. The original didn’t exactly have great success as it didn’t sell many copies. Also, it didn’t have great reviews because of many technical flaws it had. However, the fans of the RPG genre that actually played the game absolutely loved it. The reasons were smart writing, intriguing characters and intriguing questions NieR was asking.
The brain behind the NieR series is Yoko Taro, who RPG lovers probably know from the Drakengard series. That explains why people worldwide loved the game and why it became somewhat of a classic. Seven years after that, we have the opportunity to play a sequel called NieR: Automata. Although we didn’t expect to get the chance to explore the bizarre game’s world further, we are thankful to PlatinumGames and Square Enix for enabling just that.
A journey into the future
Compared to the original NieR, the sequel is set thousands of years into the future. The developers probably decided to do this to make a plot that won’t be too related to the first game, which would enable new players to jump right in. NieR: Automata tells a story of humans fleeing to the moon because the Earth was invaded by the machines from a different world. The fact that the mankind fled doesn’t mean that it gave up on its home planet. On the contrary, they are sending YoRHa androids to free the Earth from the evil machines. Your task will be to control 2B, a female android that gets sent into the battle along with her partner 9S.
If you haven’t played the first part of the game, you won’t miss much. However, what NieR: Automata keeps from its predecessor are the key themes. While you lead two androids on their journey, the game will ask you a bunch of thought-provoking questions. You will wonder what exactly does it mean to be human and what defines you like one, as well as how far would you go to protect your family, friends, and people you love. Please note that these questions are anything but random. Each of them is carefully implemented and, by the time you finish the game, they will brilliantly tie up into a breathtaking story. You might even think that a particular scene doesn’t feel important to the story only to end up thinking about it days after you complete the game.
Enough talk, let’s fight
The plot is the greatest selling point of NieR: Automata. However, the game’s combat system is what will keep you busy between the narrative periods. I will assume that people that are reading this review who played the first game in the series and mention that the combat was significantly upgraded. The original featured messy and slow battles, but the sequel brings action-packed fights against waves of mechanized invaders.
You will need to use both ranged and melee attacks to battle challenging enemies and bosses. The important thing is that the controls are extremely fluid, which leaves you a lot of options to combine different attacking and evading moves. This depth to the battle is why NieR: Automata manages to avoid repetitiveness. There is a broad range of ways to inflict damage on your enemies while timely and gracefully avoiding their attacks. The combat system is also inviting for the new players without great gaming experience as the controls are pretty easy to learn and are very responsive. There is also an “Auto Mode”, which will make it much simpler to avoid enemy attacks. While it makes the game more attractive for novice players, it makes the combats too easy, so I advise against using it.
Over the course of the game, you will obtain different new weapons and learn battle skills that will help you fight tougher enemies. Thanks to the Chip System, you will have the option of bringing different things to the combat. Such as healing or dodging automatically when you have an appropriate chip equipped. Upgrading your EXP levels will naturally help your character throughout the game. An interesting thing I noticed is a particular upgrade counter that is duplicated from Metal Gear Rising.
A beautiful mixture of story and characters
It will take more than 20 hours to complete 2B, and 9S’ quest to free the Earth from the machines. The good news is that you won’t get tired of combat at any moment of the game. NieR: Automata technically features an open world, although I would rather call it a semi-open world. Either way, aside from the main quest, you can also explore vast gaming area and find side quests to complete. If you want to dive into the beautifully crafted world of NieR: Automata, I advise you to finish all side quests. They will provide you with additional information about the world and the characters themselves.
While we are discussing characters, let’s mention that they are all unique in a particular way, regardless of how big of a role they play. 2B is a female android, but she is a stoic woman that doesn’t talk often and always chooses her words carefully. On the other hand, 9S seems more outgoing and free in expressing his emotions. The problem is that there is not a great amount of emotion to tap into, considering the fact that he is an android. The relationship between the two main protagonists is amazing, and you can’t help but like them both. If you played the original game, you would certainly make comparisons with the past between NieR, Emil, and Kaine.
It is good to see that Platinum didn’t improvise when it comes to non-playable characters. On the contrary, they were also designed with a lot of details, and they add to the atmosphere and the overall experience of the game.
I Have to tell you, it’s not perfect
NieR: Automata offers an open world with some truly stunning environment. You will be able to move between the locations without the loading screen, which is something anyone who plays the game will appreciate. All the environments are rendered in 60 fps and they look very stylish and detailed. The world of the game is beautiful, and you can see that the developers tried when creating it.
That being said, the new NieR doesn’t come without a couple of annoying issues. You will encounter a few glitches from time to time. The problem is that some of them will lead to the game getting stuck. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it is annoying, especially considering the fact that autosaving is not included. I respect the Platinum’s decision to leave the autosave out of NieR: Automata. The majority of players today only look for how to make things easier for themselves, and they could relish a challenge. Unfortunately, the glitches forced me to return to the previous saving point. So, I had to repeat the same segment multiple times, and I wasn’t exactly happy about it. I might have mentioned a few mean words along the way.
If there are some issues with the graphics, the sound of the new NieR is just like the original – absolutely perfect. Each of the soundtracks fits perfectly with the game and adds to the atmosphere. There is no multiplayer included in Automata, it is still the single player action RPG the fans remember and love.
I already said it, but I will mention it once again, the story is the best part of NieR: Automata. The choices you will have to make during the game won’t be easy. Also, they will truly remain stuck with you long after you complete the game. The ability to make a true impact and offer a unique experience is why you should try NieR: Automata.
If you played the original game, you will probably give a chance to the sequel. I should mention that Platinum made a step in the right direction. If you know how annoyed a player could get playing the first game, you are in for a treat. The issues are reduced to a minimum, although a couple of them will still haunt you. Despite that, NieR: Automata is much better than its predecessor and is one of Yoko Taro’s masterpieces.
In the end, let’s say that NieR: Automata was released for both PlayStation 4 and PC. Unlike the original game that you could only play on consoles, this one is also available on Steam. We can only hope that this will help to expand the fan base of the game. NieR deserves a much better engagement from gamers.