- Original release year: 2017
- Consoles: PS4, Steam
As a forewarning, I am not a professional writer. I’m not good by any stretch of the imagination. I say this, because Nier Automata is one of my favourite games of not just 2017, but of all time. I don’t think I have the ability to articulate just how strong the ambition and style executed in this game is. I should have paid more attention to English when I was in school, but hindsight is great like that. I digress though…
What can I say about 2017 that hasn’t been said already? It was one of the greatest years for video games ever. Resident Evil returned to its roots, Sega released a true follow up to the classic 16-bit Sonic series and we had the release of a new Nintendo console, which came with a new Zelda and new Mario, both of which were outstanding. There was a lot of incredible games released last year, but two games stood head and shoulders above the rest and one of those, was Nier Automata.
When I first heard of Nier Automata, I didn’t really know what to make of it. I was aware of the first game, but I was also aware that it received quite a mixed response in the West. My only experience of Yoko Taro was the Drakengard games released on the PS2, but I was never the biggest fan of those (which reminds me, I need to revisit them). Needless to say, I decided to leave Nier Automata, especially as there were so many incredible games being released around that time (Zelda, Horizon Zero Dawn, Persona 5). After Horizon and Persona failed to blow me away though (yeah, I know…), someone recommended Nier and I’m so glad they did, because my God, what an experience it is! Platinum Games being involved probably should have been a giveaway.
Within just the prologue of NieR Automata, the game demonstrates all its strengths, representing the diverse and stylish gameplay in excellent fashion, all within a 30-40 minute introduction. From the post-apocalyptic setting where machines have taking over from mankind, to the bullet hell shmup moments, to the epic boss battles, to the Bayonetta-esque exciting combat, to the sidescrolling action, to the 360 degree shooter sections. The game starts off difficult and doesn’t fully explain what it’s all about straight away, but if you can get through the introduction, then there’s so much enjoyment to get out of this ambitious masterpiece.
Whilst Final Fantasy XV disappointed, NieR Automata is the perfect action RPG I didn’t see coming.
In Nier, you primarily play as two androids, 2B and 9s, in a war between humans and machines crafted by aliens. Your adventure takes you to all sorts of bizarre places, such as a fairground, or a forest village inhabited by peaceful, pacifist robots.
Like the first game, the presentation is incredible, if you can overlook the somewhat bland graphics and muddy textures. The art direction is fantastic and the soundtrack is absolutely sublime. I’d even go ahead and call it one of my favourite video game OSTs of all time. The melancholic and beautifully composed songs fit in perfectly with the sombre tone of the game.
One of the best parts of the game is when you first see the credits roll. That might sound strange to someone who has yet to play the game, so spoiler alert, the first time you complete the game you have only actually seen 40% of the game, give and take, which is great considering the massive cliffhanger it ends on. Continue the game after the credits end and you will begin again, this time seeing the story from the perspective of 9S (having already finished the game as 2B). You get to play from a new perspective and this time combat focusses on hacking skills. Finish the game as 2B and continue the game again to finally play what happens after that cliffhanger, where you will now play as a mysterious third protagonist who had featured a couple of times prior. There are 5 true endings to experience and then around 22 other ‘joke’ endings to find.
Overall, there’s tons of content to keep you playing Nier. The story and characters are truly captivating and the experience is so good that you will want to jump back into the world after you’ve finished it.