NieR: Automata – Review

It had its moments, some better than others.

In the distant future, humanity doesn’t live on Earth. It was lost long ago when aliens attacked and humanity fled to the moon. For centuries humanity has been trying to reclaim their home by sending androids to fight the machines that rule the Earth. In this never ending struggle 2B is paired with 9S. Their task is the same as all other androids, to defeat the machines so the Earth is safe for humanity once again. This task sounds simple but it has never come to pass.  2B and 9S will do everything they can to be successful but they are going to find some surprises along the way.

This game is both awe inspiring and awful in so many ways. The things that it does well are brilliant and fantastic, whereas what it does poorly is absolutely dreadful.  This game is very different from games I normally play and that was taken into great consideration before writing this review. It was a welcome step out of my gaming comfort zone. The consensus on the internet is that three play throughs of the game gives you the most complete version and that is where I likely will leave off. In those three play throughs, I’ve seen so many nuances that it is hard to know if I even caught all of them. Here are some of them that I did: family, obsession, unrequited love, sexuality, self realization, depression, self loathing, creationism, being a recluse, establishing a monarchy, religion, isolationism, culturalism, humanity, self image, pacifism, cannibalism, suicide, self sacrifice, and loyalty.

On the surface, the game starts out being about a robot samurai lady and her partner. How this game does the story and the characters is where it really stands out. The main characters quickly go from shallow robots to deep, nearly human people. Some of the inner growth of the characters seems oddly paced, as if it is happening to quickly or unnaturally, but the pay off it gives is well done on almost all counts. How quickly the two androids become attached to each other seems awkward but the relationship becomes a pivotal point of the game. How the game is built is even part of its unique nature. When you save the game you are actually uploading your conscience and when you change abilities you are actually changing chips in your character.

Stylistically the game is all over the place but in the best of ways. Jumping from third-person slasher to 2-D runner keeps the game moving and somehow invigorating. Some of the parts I enjoyed most were the 2-D shooter sequences. From a story aspect, it goes from saving humanity to falling in love and everything else possible as I’ve mentioned earlier. I don’t know how else to say it but this is a very Japanese game. It makes me feel like I spent almost forty hours playing an anime but loved every minute of it. Admittedly, the third play through was my least favorite of them. The story was intriguing but constantly jumping in between characters broke down the continuity of the game.

Then there are some bad things. Graphically it is somewhat less than what can be expected on the PS4. Granted that some of the environment and characters are made they way the are from a stylistic choice but seeing grass and other parts of the environment render makes the game less enjoyable. As far as the upgrade systems, well…, not knowing where to get materials and then having to grind for them isn’t much fun to say the least. Maybe there are systems built in to aid in this but I did not find them. The worst part of the game, for me anyway, was the combat. I couldn’t get a handle on the range of weapons nor could I get the timing of the evades right. Early in the game I switched the difficulty down to easy, this removed a lot of my frustrations and allowed me to just enjoy the story.

What exactly it is about this game I liked is hard to put my finger on. I know I liked the characters and the story but I’m not sure why I like the overall game as much as I did. Given that I did not like the combat takes the game down a bit for me. Although it is still high in the running of the best games of 2017 so far. One step behind Horizon Zero Dawn but miles ahead of Mass Effect: Andromeda.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

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3 thoughts on “NieR: Automata – Review

  1. I’m happy to hear you stepped out of your comfort zone and ended up enjoying the game more than you anticipated. NieR didn’t have the budget of a major release, but the characters, storytelling, world design, and especially the soundtrack were incredibly well done. I’m with you in thinking the third playthrough was the least enjoyable (I didn’t care for the character’s distinguished ability as much as 2B’s dual-wielding and 9S’s shooter hacking mini-game). Hopefully, this entices you to take more chances on other niche Japanese RPGs. Have you considered Persona 5 yet?

    • That third play through almost broke me on the game. I wanted to see the payoff but some of the things in that one were frustrating at the least. I don’t know anything about Persona 5 outside of the 10 minutes of Giant Bomb’s quick look that I watched. I’m not opposed to it but I’m not sold on it either.

  2. Pingback: Dude’s Chronicles 5-18-2017: RIP For Another Legend | Reviewer Discretion

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