I recently played Nier:Automata, an action hack-and-slash adventure fantasy science fiction video game and I am still recovering from the emotional rollercoaster two months later.
Contains spoilers, duh.
The game starts off unassuming and, frankly, disappointing and a poor representative of what is to come. A bit like a lacklustre prologue. Standard 80s arcade shooting game leaving you rooting for nobody and a bit bewildered as to what was going on. Is this a shooter? Is this a hack and slash? Is there any story at all?
Then you get throw gratuitous booby and butt shots and suddenly you wonder if this is just misogynous eye candy.
It was not, thank goodness.
The first run of the game makes it come across as a standard hack-and-slash. Not much skill, just button mashing. You kill a lot of robots, roam this relatively big open world, do some side quests, meet new people, collect titbits that hint at the previous human civilisation from a few thousand years ago. In terms of information load, I liked this better than Horizon Zero Dawn (a game I played immediately finishing this so there might be quite a bit of comparison, and I will review that in time) because it gives hints rather than info-dumps. The interface is smooth, the action slick. Each of the characters stands out to me (and 9S singularly stands out as the weakest, most annoying piece of shit in the entire cast) and the voice-acting is spot-on, as always with Japanese dubs.
The design of the scenery also makes for great post-apocalyptic devastation fodder.
Having said that — Play Nier: Automata in subbed, they said. Better voice acting and quality, they said.
Yeah, and it’ll also tell you the backstory AND give battle prompts IN JAPANESE in the MIDDLE OF COMBAT when you CAN’T READ THE DAMN (WHITE ON SAND BROWN) SUBTITLES so you understand f*ck all. Freaking hell.
The plot itself seems a bit more convoluted than it should be, I have to say. Humans created androids to fight against aliens, who created robots. Humans got wiped out. Androids continue to fight against aliens and their robots. The robots wipe out the aliens. Robots and androids continue to engage in warfare. Robots wish to continue their evolution and so control androids to fool themselves into thinking humans are still alive so they still have a purpose to fight.
Did I get that right?
The music is gorgeous. Hands-down the most beautiful collection of music I’ve ever heard in any media. I’ve been washing my brain with this when I write stories and in the car. The chaos language means there aren’t words getting in the way of literary creativity and the ethereal aspect make it inspiring and relaxing.
I played through the game another two times after getting the five canonical endings (just to get the rest of the 21 and collect all the collectables, because it’s fun).
Main points are:
- Gorgeous game, beautiful scenery, amazing, gut-wrenching (if overly-complicated) plot
- THE MUSIC GAH
- Literally want to murder the dickwad who thought using glorified space invaders was a great way to depict fantasy hacking in NieR: Automata. IT’S NOT. The MOST annoying and unfulfilling aspect of an otherwise wonderful game. What a waste of my time.
Verdict: 5 stars — go play the damn game already (get the PS4 version, not PC — I heard the PC version is buggy).