Nier Replicant’s bleak world is over a decade previous (the unique Nier launched in 2010), and but its morbid commentary on human frailty nonetheless resonates. This bittersweet narrative is supported by enhanced character fashions, satisfying hack-and-slash mechanics, and a haunting soundtrack that spins a riveting story of its personal. On the similar time, outdated options that made the unique recreation tedious to play stay current, and that’s as a result of Nier Replicant is neither remake nor remaster of that 2010 title. Artistic director Yoko Taro prefers the time period “model improve,” and this moniker suits completely – for higher and for worse.
Followers will instantly discover Nier: Automata’s affect; Replicant’s fight is easy and flashy. A brand new lock-on digicam makes parries and evasive maneuvers a lot simpler to carry out, however mild and heavy assaults stay your bread and butter. Chaining combos with an array of various weapons or executing incapacitated foes emerge because the quickest methods to win engagements. Fancy animations, like midair twirls and slow-motion floor slams, made the melee motion really feel thrilling sufficient for me to actively hunt down clusters of adversaries of my very own volition.
A repertoire of dazzling magic actually brings these barren battlefields to life. You’ll be able to equip two skills at any given time, so experimentation is vital. I normally paired Darkish Whirlwind – which conjures spinning, crimson blades to deal AoE harm – with Darkish Blast’s rapid-fire bullets so I might at all times keep on the offensive. You can too give instructions to your companions, however aside from outright ordering them to disengage once in a while, I by no means observed any modifications of their habits.
You want these mystical powers to outlive as a result of the world is dying. Small settlements dot the countryside the place umbral monsters known as “shades” rove in packs. What’s extra, a mysterious illness is slowly consuming away final vestiges of civilization. The withering state of humanity is much extra private for you than anybody else: Yonah, your little sister, is slowly succumbing to a plague known as the Black Scrawl. Unusual runes proceed to unfold throughout her flesh as you enterprise into the wilds to discover a remedy. However you’re by no means alone. A floating tome named Grimoire Weiss, a kind-hearted boy named Emil, and a foul-mouthed, scantily clad warrior named Kainé accompany you all through the far reaches of the continent. Collectively, you courageous stormy deserts, sprint alongside the seashores of seaside cities, and scour spooky mansions to save lots of Yonah. Exhausting-hitting story beats like generational trauma and the cycle of hatred supplied thrilling surprises that left me in emotional shambles on a number of events.
I additionally cherished Nier Replicant’s quirky solid, and this extends past the primary crew. Conversations that you just strike up with characters are stuffed to the brim with profound, albeit campy, sentiments. Facet missions give narrative taste to an in any other case bland recreation world, however I want these duties had extra variance as most quantity to forgettable fetch quests. Moreover, in distinction to your gorgeously realized occasion members, all of the NPCs are poorly textured. Due to this, the emotional stakes and resolutions of facet missions fall flat. It’s exhausting to narrate to a personality when their facial options are virtually indiscernible.
Shades are the commonest enemy you encounter throughout your travels. They strike in mobs, however don’t be fooled by their numbers; they’re pushovers, save for the high-tier harm sponges that spawn within the late recreation. Shade assaults are significantly straightforward to anticipate and counter, making their fixed ambushes extra annoying than the rest. Boss fights, nonetheless, are enjoyable sequences that push your mechanical abilities to the restrict, forcing you to shortly react to a flurry of magical and bodily assaults, usually, on the similar time. Atmospheric choruses coupled with the visible smorgasbord of blood and sword-sparks makes every of those tense confrontations memorable.
It’s too unhealthy that strengthening your gear to comfortably clear these battles is much less fulfilling. Fight mods, known as Phrases, drop from slain shades and may be slotted into weapons or magic skills for everlasting buffs. You can too gather uncooked supplies scattered all through every location and trade them for upgrades. Each choices (particularly the latter) require hours of monotonous grinding, backtracking, and luck. At one level, I spent shut to 5 hours in a single location attempting to gather sufficient “Eagle Eggs” to degree up my favourite one-handed sword and spear. Harsh random quantity mills are frequent in RPGs, however Nier Replicant’s implementation makes for a irritating exploration loop.
Regardless of some dated shortcomings, this “model improve” is greater than the sum of its components. Novel design selections like digicam and style shifts are as spectacular in the present day as they had been greater than 10 years in the past. Essential characters are dynamic with their very own attention-grabbing backstories, and the plot is as deliciously devastating as you’d anticipate. Nier Replicant won’t convert gamers that had been turned off by the unique or Automata, however there are greater than sufficient quality-of-life updates and story-centric nuances to maintain longtime followers and new initiates coming again for subsequent playthroughs.