Nier Automata is one of the best games I have ever played
Wow, that a strong claim to make, but I stand 100% behind that. Nier Automata is refreshing, engaging, intriguing and wonderfully weird. I do not know what the director was smoking when he came up with the premise of Nier Automata, but that must have been some high-level DMT or something like that, cause damn.
But the good awesome kind of weird, the kind that makes you think and question everything during and even after you’re done playing the game. The writing is fantastic, but it’s not in your nose. You are thrown into this world given little to none explanation to why or what is happening and yet, you are hooked from the first playthrough to your fourth or fifth. Yes, Nier Automata has multiple endings even though that is not technically correct. I don’t want to go into spoil territory since even talking about this can be considered a spoiler, but once you finish the game and see the credits, just continue from there as the game doesn’t start from the beginning like you might expect.
And you’ll want to continue for two main reasons, one being that you still want to play the game as it’s gameplay is so satisfying and second being that you want to explore and understand more this world. The year is 11942AD and the Earth has been devastated by an alien attack. The last humans took refuge to the Moon where they set up camp and launched the YorHa program, humanlike sword wielding androids to fight and win the war against the aliens and the machines that they created. This is all you know at the start of the game. However as you play, you start to uncover and see the hidden threads all over the place and how the devs do this is simply amazing.
They smartly use an assortment of biblical names, imagery and references to build up and explain, to a degree, this world that they have built. What is human? What makes us human? What is machine? Can a machine become human? What is to feel? What is love, pain, passion, lust etc.? They have perfectly woven all these elements into what seems at first a very weird game and don’t get me wrong you’ll see a ton of weird stuff in Nier Automata, but it also tells a bigger and cohesive story. The game protagonists go through a lot and they have quite nice characted development archs that frankly humanizes them making it in a way totaly relatable. The same goes for the supporting cast which is quite vast and each one feel and act in a unique way. Some are quirky, some act heroic and some same are just weird. Now I didn’t really play the first Nier game, but that one was also praised for it’s story and its characters.
I am trying very hard to not spoil anything and it’s quite hard to describe how emotional, relatable and quite powerful some of the encounters can be and not only the main quest ones. There is a side mission where a machine stands over a ledge and begins to question its own existence, facing its own demons and its mortality and that’s surprising to find in a game where you can literally drift a pig. And this is only one small instance. Each mission, be main or side one, has something meaningful, a message behind it and to really get and understand that is beautiful.
But if you don’t care about the story and only want to play the game well, that’s OK too since the gameplay is fantastic. Since it’s developed by Platinum Games you know what to expect. The action is fast, pure and highly satisfying. The protagonists have an assortment of swords and lances to slash down the machines and a nice trifecta of ranged attacks to wreck havok in the battlefield. It feels so good to execute combos, mix and match close combat with ranged one and the special abilities that come in between. Killing stuff and completing missions earns you XP and well, you level up, your stats go up. However, much like in Transformers: Devastation, another Platinum Games game, you can equip plugin chips to add capabilities and increase the stats even more.
There’s a ton to choose from and they do make a difference in the gameplay so I highly advise to spend some time finding your combination. The enemies you fight are as well varied, from simple small machine robots to massive electrified shielded enemies so there’s a ton of stuff to do and try out. Boss fights are another thing PG is well known for and you’ll encounter some interesting ones, especially one which is outrageously massive and good among other things. Another thing that might surprise you is the brief changes of game genre. Most of the game is a 3rd person action adventure game, but that doesn’t stop it from becoming a sidecroller or a top down view game or a shoot ’em up or a twin stick bullet hell game or a text based game. Weird? Yeah, but these are a nice break from all of the intense action and they work surprisingly well too, mechanics feel and all.
The open world is big and filled with enemies to fight as well as hidden chests that contain various things from weapons to other cool upgrades. Now going back to the ending, once you finish it the first time, the game doesn’t really end and it doesn’t on the third time too. You have a lot to do and see. You might have read that the game has like 26 endings and while that is true, it’s not technically true as you don’t have to play it 26 times. But you totally can and will do as I’ve personally spent around 40 hours to do each ending and finish a ton of interesting side quests with still a ton left to do. Will I go back to play them? Of course and that’s rare for a game nowadays since once those credits roll in 99% of the time you stop playing the game and never come back to it, if it doesn’t have a multiplayer mode that is. Nier Automata falls under that 1% of games, you want to see and do everything and get that Platinum Trophy even though the Y ending is extremely hard to achive.
So the story is fantastic, gameplay as well, what about presentation? Well, while it’s not going to win any award on mindblowing graphics ala Horizon Zero Dawn, the atmosphere is quite spectacular. The use of different palettes like bleak and washy with a splash of vibrant green used on the City area contrasts perfectly with the monogram one of the bunker and if you know what’s up with the story, it makes perfect sense. Combine that with the masterpiece score and well, f*cking goosebumps. Nier Automata is one of the best games I’ve ever experienced not only this year, but like ever and casual player or not, you have to play this game. Thanks for reading!