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Existential Crisis: The Video Game

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    NieR: Automata

    Rating: 4.5 – Outstanding

    Existential Crisis: The Video Game

    I went into NieR: Automata having absolutely no prior information about any of previous Taro Yoko games. (I just knew he was the crazy guy with the crazy mask at E3.) I’ve heard of Drakengard, but the original Nier entirely went under the radar for me. This game caught my eye due to the character design and the wildness of just the demo. I found myself very interested in figuring out what this world of Androids vs Robots was really about. I expected an action game akin to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance due to Platinum’s name being on it, but found myself playing with multiple different twists. Both in story and in different game play styles with a plot that leads one to questioning the meaning of life and finding a purpose. Not at all what I expected from this game, that is absolutely for sure.

    The game is set in a world where human-like androids are set in seemingly perpetual battle against kinda trash can looking robots. You are quickly introduced to 2B and 9S, two of the main protagonists of the game. The androids are fighting the robots in hope to allow humanity to return to Earth after being forced to the Moon by an alien invasion. Yes this all sounds crazy but believe me they do a good job building this world up. The environment is a unnamed post-apocalyptic city where an android resistance has taken hold. While I was expecting the game to start off with a hack ‘n slash style game play it actually started off with a bullet-hell style bit where 2B is introduced. This is a type of game play swap that will go on throughout the game. Some parts will be a regular action game and others will be very much this bullet hell. There are plenty of weapons to obtain and upgrade throughout the game. I mostly stuck with the default weapons and upgraded them as much as I could myself. If you’re a collector and love to grind out levels and upgrades then this might be a bonus for you.

    The game itself looks pretty good visually. However the environments will sometimes remind me of a mid-tier PS3 game. In spite of that the lighting, character models, and other effects are all very well done. Based on the scope of this game it does fit very well. It rarely ever took me ‘out’ of the game. There are plenty of ‘invisible walls’ in the broken down city that your character looks like it would fit but just simply can’t enter. However since there is nothing in these areas in the first place it really doesn’t matter at all.

    The game play is fine. It looks fluid, the combination of having a regular hack and slash character with a robot that you can shoot bullets out of is unique and works well. I am never great at these types of games myself so I did play on an easy difficult. If you are of like mind then you can turn on so many assists that the game is essentially playing for you. I instead just turned on auto-parry to avoid attacks and left every other assist off. I didn’t die once. I do know if you up the difficulty you can gain more of a challenge, however you may want to check with others on that viewpoint. I was mostly into this game for the story.

    Once you finish the intro you are thrown into a bit of an ‘open world’ map where you have objectives to go around completing. This map is not huge and it really can take some time to get from place to place. There are around a half dozen unique areas in this map that all have it’s own flavor and style. There is a kinda color washed filter over the game so some of the more vibrant areas don’t get a good chance to stand out, but in a game as overwhelmingly depressing at times it fits rather well. After time you will unlock a quick travel system. If it wasn’t for that traveling over this map would quickly get tiring and old. So the design there does alright.

    One thing I will say is that even though there are plenty of elements to the game that change over the time of playing it, by the time I was hitting the last few endings I was just powering through the game play to hit the story. It is not a bad game to play, but I think the actual game play doesn’t hold up completely over the entire length of the game. I at no point was frustrated or bored, just maybe not finding the action on screen to have the same ‘wow’ factor as I was getting in the first dozen or so hours. That might be due to the difficulty level I was on so your mileage on this may vary.

    One of the highlights of this game that will have me talking about this game for years and years is the amazing soundtrack. Right off the bat you will be introduced to great musical soundtracks. Each area has its own style of song. Each song also has a version with lyrics in the background which will naturally start and end depending on the context of what is going on in the story and environment around it. These songs will stick with me for years and years. I’ve even gone gone out and got the soundtrack for this game.

    When it comes to the story line there are few games I think that have ever been like this. Right up front I will say there are multiple endings and the game is intended for you to play through it multiple times. I know that might sound insane, playing through a game multiple times in a year full of massive games, but believe me the way the plot comes and just lays it on thick you will be glad you did.

    You do not need to have played the original Nier to understand or enjoy this game. I didn’t know anything going into it and didn’t miss a beat. After beating the game I was thirsty for more information about the world this game exists in and did read up on the story line of the original. For fans who have played the original there are moments in this game that will be rather enjoyable for you. If you have the time to play the game or maybe at least read a plot summary or watch a Lets Play for it I would recommend doing that heading in. It is just absolutely not required, just some bonus fun.

    Some of the characters in this game really stand out to me. There are plenty of different robots and androids having very real and human problems and emotions. Issues that maybe you have thought about, about meaning and purpose. The atmosphere of the game hits you hard and fast with just dark hopelessness. That isn’t to say there are not good moments or parts that make you feel alright, but this is a world that has gone through a hell of a lot of problems to be where it is now.

    This is a game I would highly, HIGHLY recommend to anyone with a PS4 or PC. There is a demo out to give you a taste of the game if you are still on the fence after reading this review. If you sound interested after this then I recommend skipping the demo as it’s just the intro of the game. Without a doubt I would call myself a fan of Taro Yoko games and really hope to see where they go from this.

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