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A Tale of Two Reviews

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    NieR: Automata

    Rating: 4.0 – Great

    A Tale of Two Reviews

    I originally gave the game 5/5…flawless. Which, I will admit, was mostly me supporting Taro Yoko’s work as well as letting my fanboy out.

    I love Drakengard. I thought D2 was decent. I think NieR is one of the best games ever made, despite its flaws. Drakengard 3 was…a hot mess. Not much to praise, there. And then we come to Automata….

    Initially I thought it was 5/5. I really did. It starts out with an intense intro and what follows is truly beautiful in every way: level design, character design, combat, music, exploration, etc. How everything comes together is truly something to behold. The 25 hours that followed was mostly side quests with a small spattering of main story content.

    The side quests are the meat of this game. Some of the best parts of the story are told through the side quests, which are mostly collection quests or bring something from Point A to Point B. Boring. Frustratingly so. The stories told through these boring quests are what it made them worth while, though.

    But as I reached the end of my first playthrough I started thinking "how is this the ending?" I reached ending A at about 28 hours. I felt like most of what I did was play side quests. Which became even more apparent in Route B. I finished route B in between 1.5 hours and 2.5 hours, tops. As the credits following path B rolled I realized this game was unbelievably short in terms of story.

    I thought, once again…"how is this the ending?" and "How is it this short?"

    Then I reached Route C and realized it was literally just beginning.

    To avoid spoilers, I’ll just say that route C is about the same length as the first path. Which leaves Endings D and E. Which can be zipped to in no time flat. The story in this game is about 8 to 12 hours total. Which seems pretty thin when you consider I finished the game in 44 hours. Where’s the story? I thought.

    Where is the story?

    Then I as sacrificed my data and watched the "true" ending I started to get angry. I felt I wasted my time and my money on this game. And that’s how I felt for a few days after finishing the game. I felt cheated. I felt like some kind of trick had been played on me. This is NieR! I thought. No way NieR’s sequel could be awful.

    The truth is complicated, however. NieR Automata is awful as a sequel. It does connect to the original, but Automata doesn’t connect with the player’s emotions the way the original did from intro to finish.

    Then I started arguing about this game online with other people. I started getting into heated discussions about it. Then…something clicked. I realized I both hated and LOVED NieR Automata. I still dislike the story. I didn’t like the characters all that much and the story was too short for my taste. But despite all that, I loved the overall philosophy that is hidden in the simple story. The game made me think about it endlessly, long after finishing it, even though I thought I hated it. How often does this happen? How often does something stick in your head, when you felt sure you hated it?

    The game is very well made. It’s super fun. The music and world is all fantastic. But the story is a bit too swift. There’s many bugs: crashes, ladders trapping your character, bullets being just out of range during perspective changes that hit you but you can’t hit them, framerate stutter, etc.

    Initially I thought the game was flawless, but now I realize it’s very flawed.

    NieR Automata sucks and is genius simultaneously.

    So my final review score is 8/10. I love that it made me think and I hate that it let me down.

    Thank you, Taro Yoko, for making me think! …I think.

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