On the day this is posted I will get my preorder of Nier Replicant, the prequel to Nier Automata. So I figured this would be the perfect time to write a review for one of the best video games I ever played.
Nier Automata (PS4): ★★★★★★★★★☆
I love this game! This is in my top ten video games of all time. I recommend this game to everyone. As long as they are old enough to play that is. This game has some real dark moments that would emotionally scar children. I’m emotionally scarred, and I’m a jaded twenty-something!
The main characters are well written and experience significant character development as the game progresses. There are multiple events when the game subverts expectations or has events beyond what the player could have imagined. While playing the game secrets are uncovered by the characters and through them, the player discovers multiple concerning truths about the world. The combat is fast and engaging with multiple ways to change your playstyle. The scenery in the world is varied and atmospheric. The music is beautiful. Nier Automata is a masterpiece!
You would like this game if
- You like hack and slash combat
- Enjoy story-rich games
- Want to have an existential crisis
- Appreciate character development
- Enjoy moments of cute quirkiness and weird “What the Heck?!!?” scenes
- Need a good cry
Quick Note: Nier Automata is a part of a series of video games connected by lore. Luckily you don’t need to have played the other games to understand the story. After beating the game I looked up the extended lore. If you’re interested you should check out this video explanation. I’m intentionally not going to mention years and specifics about the timeline. Two reasons for this: One spoilers, Two it’s complicated and I don’t want to screw it up.
In the distant past, an alien race invaded the earth with their robotic minions, called Machines. To defend themselves from the Machines humanity used androids as their soldiers. While the androids were fighting the Machine armada, all of the surviving humans fled to a colony on the moon. Now the androids and the Machines have been engaged in a constant battle for the dominion of the planet on behalf of their respective creators.
Nier Automata takes place in the distant future of the earth. The battle between the androids and the Machines has lasted for thousands of years. Now there is an organization with a station orbiting the earth called YoRHa. This is a group of elite military androids. The story follows the YoRHa androids 9S and 2B as they are sent to earth to combat the machines and scout for military intelligence. While completing their missions for YoRHa and the android resistance on earth, 2B and 9S learn more about the Machines and the long-hidden truths of the war.
This is important. You reading this with full attention? Good. This game has five endings. The first time you play the game and reach the first ending, you might think that’s all there is. Wrong! To get the full story and experience you will have multiple playthroughs. If I explain more it will spoil the experience. So just trust me on this, whenever you think the game is over it’s not over. You can also get multiple joke endings by being stupid or ignoring what the game wants you to do.
Nier Automata is an action RPG. Combat is divided into two sections, hack n’ slash and bullet hell shooter. The shooting sections occur throughout the game whenever the characters enter their flight units. Those are always pretty simple, dodge bullets and shoot the enemies that are shooting at you. When you are wandering the world you encounter Machine enemies that you dice to bits with whatever weapons you have equipped. Some weapons are slow and hit hard and others do less damage with fast strikes. Dodging is important in this game. If you perfectly dodge attacks time will temporarily slow down and you get a chance to deal extra damage. You also have a friendly, floating pod companion. All hail the pod! Because these guys can shoot endless bullets at all enemies and have a big laser for whenever you want to blast someone real good. While you can change the pods charged attack nothing feels as effective as a giant laser.
Out of all of the different characters you play as in Nier Automata, only 9S can hack enemies. If you hack them successfully it will either deal a great deal of damage or destroy them instantly. It’s overpowered. Sadly the hacking mini-game isn’t nearly as much fun as hitting everything with swords. The hacking segments are geometry bullet hells. Just keep moving and shooting and you’ll win.
Character’s stats and abilities can be enhanced and changed by adding computer chips. They are androids after all. As you play the game you will find chips in the environment, earn them by completing quests and using materials to build and upgrade them. These chips can do everything from increasing movement speed, increasing attack/defense, and enable auto-heal. Read the default chips carefully before you remove anything. Remove the wrong one, and it’s instant death.
- There are a lot of side quests, some of them are good/important story-wise yet they can be easily missed. They should have been part of the main story or should have had an indicator or something.
- At certain points during the game, it was hard to find things. Not a big deal but the trial and error were tedious at points.
- I won’t put spoilers here but I cried at the ending and one point early on the third playthrough. When I say crying I don’t mean a few stray tears. No, I mean grab the tissue box and pause the game. Because I couldn’t see the game through my tears! It was so sad!! Which is great, but also curse you developers for making me feel!
- The 9S hacking mechanic. It wasn’t bad, and I enjoyed it sometimes. The shooting mini-game just isn’t as much fun as cutting everything down with swords.
- All the joke endings in the game. They were so much fun to accidentally get by being stupid. Later I ended up getting all of these joke endings by following a guide.
- Pet the pod! You can pet your pod whenever you want by clicking the touchpad of your controller. I love that you can do that. Your combat buddy deserves all the love and affection.
- There’s a character named Jackass. Looks like I never outgrew childish middle-school humor.
- 9S!! My precious boy deserves to be protected and happy!
- After beating the game you can jump to different parts of the story to replay what you want and do side quests you might have missed. This was super helpful in getting all of the joke endings to the game that I missed.
- Combat. It was fast, responsive, and all-around a good time.
- Befriending wildlife. I don’t know why they added it in the game. But who cares? I can ride a moose!
- Music, the music in this game is so amazing! It sets the mood of climactic battles and important story moments.
- There are a lot of quirky moments in the game. At times it was funny. Other times it added to the characters and the environment.
*Image does not belong to me. It belongs to the developers of Nier Automata