Nier: Automata REVIEW
The delight in Nier: Automata is finding yourself falling further and further down the rabbit hole. At first it’s a peculiar anomaly you poke your head into without really understanding what you’re looking at, but you’re drawn in deeper by its barmy story and the wild combat. Before long you’re caught by an unstoppable momentum that pushes you through the game to uncover its every secret. What you’ll discover is one of the most unique and fulfilling action RPGs in a long time.
It’s strange to think how this sequel has even been given the opportunity to exist in the first place. The original Nier, despite being a lovable curiosity bursting with madcap ideas, was a fundamentally flawed game. It could be a little finicky at times; other times it simply felt broken. It was, however, the sort of oddity that gathers a cult following. Players were willing to look past some shoddy production values to appreciate its more distinctive touches.
A partnership with Platinum Games was a genius move to prevent Nier: Automata from succumbing to the same faults as its predecessor. The taut, balletic and frenetic action combat of the Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Bayonetta developers is the perfect companion to the quirky and thoughtful scenario penned by Nier’s eccentric designer, Yoko Taro. Both are as bonkers and alluring as the other.
The story takes you to a dilapidated Earth 10,000 years in the future after it has been abandoned by humanity following an alien invasion. Humans now live on the moon and use an army of androids to fight their battles with the machines on the planet’s surface. You play as 2B, one of the androids who is sent down along with another named 9S to Earth in order to assist in the fight to take it back for mankind. Yet, it’s not simply a case of slaughtering whatever metallic constructs stand in your way.
The less said here, the better. The air of mystery and self-discovery is what makes Nier: Automata so special and to offer more than just the briefest synopsis will ruin every reflective and inventive twist the game takes. Just know that it doesn’t fit within the broad structure of an action RPG. Yes, there are side quests and weapon upgrades and levelling options that allow you to tinker with your skills and abilities. There’s also so much more that you couldn’t guess.
To spoil one surprise, though, know that it’s not over after the end credits roll. Nier: Automata is a game that unfurls the more you prod at it, becoming richer and cleverer all the time. Each playthrough steadily dives deeper in the game’s themes and mechanics, offering wild new gameplay ideas and entirely new perspectives to ensure an enriching experience whether you’re on your first or fifth run – and making it unlike any other game out there.
Review by James Pickard