It is not every day that we get to see two different developers come together to create a masterpiece of a game and NieR: Automata is exactly that game. It takes the concepts of Yoko Taro, known for his crazy but well written stories and characters, and then combines it with the action gameplay that Platinum Games is known for to create a spectacular game that will be remembered for years to come.
NieR: Automata is sequel to the cult classic NieR that was originally released for the PS3 and Xbox 360. However it didn’t fair well with critics and received harsh reviews even though it had an excellent story and memorable characters. Part of the reason was because of the gameplay, which wasn’t really up to the standards of the story and even action games of that time, resulting in critics bashing the game. Thankfully with the release of NieR: Automata, which is a sequel to the original, the gameplay aspect is now in the hands of the industry’s finest action combat developer, which is Platinum Games.
While the game is technically a sequel to the original NieR, the story is completely unrelated to the original aside from sharing the same universe. It is set several years after the end of the original in a post-apocalyptic setting where the player takes control of a Android manufactured by the Humans. If you haven’t played the original NieR then this game should be a good entry point. NieR itself was supposed to be a spin-off to Yoko Taro’s Drakengard series so it is great to see the story continue with this sequel.
The two main protagonists featured in NieR are 2B and 9S, two combat Androids that are made by Humans for the purpose of eliminating any threats. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the Humans were forced to leave Earth after an invasion by a machine army from an Alien world. They plan to assist the resistant against these machines by sending their combat Androids, 2B and 9S. While I obviously can’t disclose much for the story considering there are potential spoilers, I will add that it is one that will remain memorable for a long time.
I am a big fan of Platinum Games after having played games like Metal Gear Rising and Bayonetta so when I originally heard about the collaboration between Square Enix and Platinum Games, I was genuinely excited to see what they could accomplish with it. Needless to say, the end product has not only managed to meet my expectations, it has also surpassed it.
NieR: Automata features hack-and-slash combat that involves multiple weapons, which can be easily switched with the press of a single button. This works as intended and results in some sick looking combos while we kick enemies’ ass with 2B. However NieR: Automata is not only a hack-and-slash, it is also an action RPG at its core featuring sidequests to discover, weapons to unlock/power-up and experience to gain for the characters to improve their stats and level them up. The game also frequently changes to a completely different genre with top-down or side-scrolling action that mimics a shooter. Switching to a different camera style works seamlessly and even though I was never a fan of such type of gameplay, its implementation in NieR: Automata is fun for the most part.
While the combat deserves to mention special praise here considering how seamless it is in the game, it is important to mention how the developers have created some of the other mechanics that integrate with the Android persona in the game. If we get killed by enemy in NieR: Automata, it is possible to start again from an earlier checkpoint and retrieve our body. In this case, once we gain access to our former Android shell, the game gives us the choice to either repair it or retrieve it to fight along with us. If we select the option to keep it as an Ally, it becomes another combat partner and can help with battles. This doesn’t always work and the retrieved body can also become hostile at times. But if it joins the party then the experience point it gains can be utilized by our main character, which makes this an exciting new feature that seems to put another spin on the Souls series with its death mode.
Combat mostly takes place along an AI party member that can also help the character during some of the boss fights. Speaking of which, the game has some absolutely amazing boss fights that might not be challenging on the normal difficulty setting, but with the option of a higher difficulty, they can easily destroy the player. Of course, if you have managed to master the combat system along with dodging the attacks of the boss, you should have an easier time dealing with them. Still, the boss fights here are among the best in action games and this is one aspect of the game that I didn’t expect any less considering it was developed by Platinum Games.
NieR: Automata might feel like a short game at first since it doesn’t take that long to finish it the firs time, but with the way the story is told in the game, completing it the first time is just the beginning of an adventure. While I can’t spoil any of the surprises that lie in the story, I will just highly recommend to give the game multiple playthroughs since it is essential to do so in order to get the true ending of the game.
I will conclude this review by saying that this year has been absolutely amazing for gaming in general with many notable games, mostly from Japan, getting released to critical acclaim. NieR: Automata is another addition to the list here and it belongs at the top of the list for sure. I hope Square Enix has further plans for the franchise and hopefully gives Yoko Taro more chance in the future because if we can get more game like NieR: Automata, then I can hardly wait for them.
NieR: Automata Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: NieR: Automata is an action role-playing video game developed by PlatinumGames and published by Square Enix for PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows.
NieR: Automata offers top notch action with an emotionally engaging story. It is the perfect blend of the crazy direction of Yoko Taro with the gameplay specialty of Platinum Games, resulting in one of the best games to be released this year.