I consider NieR Automata to be one of the Top 5 best games I've ever played and well after playing NieR Replicant, I might have to update the list to Top 6. I absolutely adore this game. Nowadays, I rarely get choked up while playing a game cause in all honesty, I've played and seen nearly everything that's out there so nothing comes as a surprise anymore.
Well, NieR Replicant, in a similar fashion as NieR Automata, says "Screw That" and plays you like a damn violin. The story goes... places. Places that will make you question your choices and well, choke you up. I played Replicant during what is probably the most difficult time of my life so far and it made everything, every character choice, life, death that more relatable and personal even though I was playing like a young boy/man with supernatural abilities trying to save his sister in a post-apocalyptic world populated with ghostly figures, robots and building-sized tentacle monsters and is accompanied by a foul mouth lingerie wearing badass half-demon lady, a boy who's actually a deadly weapon who later turns into a flying skeleton with a funky-ass head and a floating talking book which has a lot of comments to make for about everything that happens.
Yeah, NieR Replicant is wonderfully weird and unique and it baffles me how everything comes together so neatly and creates such an unforgettable experience. Something like this should not work. A game that switches between unexpected genres, such as shoot-’em-ups, side-scroller, survival horror, dungeon crawler, FPS etc. should not work. A game that expects the player to start a second playthrough immediately after the credits should not work. A game that expands the story in unexpected ways and makes you question everything you did the first time during the second play-through should not work. NieR Replicant should not work and yet, not only it works, but it is a masterpiece.
All of the main characters in the game have a dark and weirdly relatable back story, are extremely well written and well acted. They grow and develop as you play the game in a natural way that doesn't feel forced. The bonds that are created and cemented between them feel real which in turn makes their inevitable sacrifices all that more meaningful. Of course you will do anything to protect your friends and they do just that. Again, it's enough to make a grown ass man shed a tear or two... damn you Yoko Taro and the rest of the geniuses who made this game (jk, love you all!)
The same thing can be said about the gameplay which feels extremely good and satisfying. There are 3 types of weapons you can switch and use at any time during combat, each with its unique attacks and animations. You also have many powerful magical attacks that Grimoire Weiss, the floating talking book, provides for you. You can use these magic attacks at the same time in combination with the melee attacks for some devastating effects. The enemy variety lacks as there are only a few types of enemies, but oftentimes the large sheer number of them that can attack you in each encounter more than makes up. You can upgrade your weapons and augment their attack power and also attach different "words", which you unlock randomly by just killing enemies, to buff up and increase specific stats.
As with any other RPG, aside from the main missions, you also have your side missions which to be completely honest are not worth talking about apart from some that feature some interesting characters or that unlock some gameplay mechanics like fishing, farming or riding/drifting a boar... yup! Most of them are just boring fetch quests where you have to travel to a shop, get the items needed and get back to the NPC to get your reward. I just did a couple of them and well, skipped on the rest since they didn't add anything worthwhile.
Visually the game looks old, but that doesn't mean it looks bad. The world itself, however, looks and feels like a world from a 2010 game cause well, NieR Replicant is a remake/remaster of the 2010 NieR game. Some parts feature open spaces where enemies spawn gunning down for you and some are just corridors with no possibility of exploration whatsoever. The world feels empty which I guess makes sense in a post-apocalyptic world as you can't expect to find people just freely roaming around the wasteland. Contrary to the world, the characters are detailed, beautiful and the animation work is great. Cutscenes are extremely well made, especially the boss killing sequences which are pretty epic.
The music. Oh the glorious music, what a delight for your ears. Each new area you enter features a glorious piece that elevates everything to the next level. Each boss features a unique piece that cranks it up to 11. I can talk for hours about how transcendental the music is, but I wouldn't do it justice. You have to hear it yourself. NieR Automata had one of the best soundtracks ever and guess what, the same composer has done the soundtrack for NieR Replicant... absolute perfection.
NieR Replicant is a masterpiece. The story shifts in unexpected ways and plays with your emotions, characters are fantastic and the gameplay is as satisfying as it can get. Throw on top a stellar soundtrack and well, you have a game you have to play, no two ways about it. Thanks for reading.
NieR Replicant is available now on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. A PS4 code was provided by the publisher for this review.