I missed out on Nier when it first arrived in 2010, so my expertise going into Nier Replicant Ver. 1.22474487139 was a recent one. I discover myself quite grateful for that as a result of if there’s one factor you want to know going into this new model of artistic director Yoko Taro’s daring, genre-bending action-RPG, it’s you can anticipate to revisit the identical locations, combating the identical enemies, and pushing the identical godforsaken bins round lots. It’s one of many larger points with Nier, however the necessary factor to notice is that the methods wherein Nier Replicant disappoints are largely forgivable when you think about the methods wherein it astounds: Surprises await round each nook, characters are unforgettable, and the emotional story will resonate in my thoughts for a protracted, very long time.
Ver. 1.22 (for the sake of my very own sanity, I’m simply going to spherical down from right here on out) is in an odd place of being greater than only a remaster, but additionally lower than a remake. It clearly seems to be significantly better when in comparison with the muddy unique, with dramatically improved draw distances, cleaner textures, higher character fashions, and a constantly clean 60fps framerate. On the identical time, although, it nonetheless provides off that PS3/360-era RPG vibe: environments lack element, NPCs are stiff and simply form of stare lifelessly into the void, the world is damaged up into small chunks with loading screens bridging the gaps, and there aren’t any current-gen console enhancements for the PS5 or Xbox Collection X. It definitely isn’t an unpleasant recreation anymore by any commonplace, nevertheless it additionally nonetheless feels a step behind 2017’s Nier Automata.
Nevertheless, one huge change, and one of many explanation why I feel it’s unattainable to label this simply as a remaster, is the truth that each character is now voiced. It is a big enchancment that goes a great distance in bringing Nier’s otherwise-sleepy world to life.
Past the visuals and voice appearing, Nier’s fight additionally has seen some love, smoothing out its animations and making it really feel extraordinarily akin to Nier Automata’s. One of many huge issues that was taken from Automata is the seamless integration of weapon fight along with your expertise. So the place within the unique you needed to sit nonetheless whilst you cost a spell like Darkish Lance, now you possibly can fairly freely transfer round and cost any spell, in addition to solid them whereas attacking. That every one makes fight behave far more like a conventional motion recreation and goes a great distance in enhancing the precise really feel of Nier’s fight.
That mentioned, it’s nonetheless fairly shallow and straightforward. You by no means acquire new sword expertise, rank and file enemies are available solely a handful of varieties that each one rapidly succumb to your button-mashy assaults, and I used to be at all times swimming in well being restoratives, which took virtually all rigidity out of each combat. Finally, the problem grew to become extra about discovering the precise mixture of magic and sword fight to see how rapidly I may clear a room, as an alternative of being a check of whether or not I may clear it in any respect. That’s enjoyable in its personal approach, and the fight definitely is flashy and enjoyable to take a look at, nevertheless it did get fairly stale earlier than I completed my 35-hour playthrough. Sure, there’s a exhausting mode, nevertheless it largely simply makes the enemies into irritating sword sponges that also aren’t tough however simply take without end to kill, particularly within the early elements while you don’t have entry to stronger weapons.
On the plus facet, there are three totally different weapon courses with fairly distinct combating types and transfer lists. There’s a caveat to having fun with all of them, although, in that upgrading the weapons inside these courses may be very costly and requires numerous grinding. Except you need to spend much more hours within the Junk Heap farming robots, you’re inspired to select one and keep it up.
There’s additionally a small aspect of playstyle customization within the type of upgrades referred to as phrases that you just accumulate as you degree up and defeat enemies. These phrases could be added to weapons, spells, and your defensive methods so as to add particular properties to them, akin to added power, guard break, magic energy, and so forth. Whereas having the ability to tailor your character by swapping phrases out and in is a welcome characteristic, I by no means felt any type of must customise my weapons or talents in any type of approach different than simply equipping no matter phrases that gave me probably the most injury on no matter I had outfitted, as a result of the fight situations by no means challenged me in any ways in which required me develop into extra specialised.
What saves it from turning into outright boring are the methods wherein Nier Replicant throws you into its fight encounters, which fluctuate wildly. It masterfully performs with digital camera angles and perspective shifts in some actually impressed methods, and people do a terrific job of assuaging at the very least a few of that feeling of repetition.
A Submit-Apocalyptic Fantasy
Nier’s story begins sluggish, however finally turns into the very best half. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world wherein an adolescent named Nier (or no matter you select to call him) units out to discover a treatment for his sister, Yonah, who’s with a terminal sickness. It’s a deeply private story; one a couple of brother’s love for his sister far more so than any type of grander ambitions to save lots of the world, which is without doubt one of the extra intriguing features about it as an RPG. Nier and his companions aren’t “chosen heroes of sunshine” or something of the type, and the actions that they take fairly often fall right into a morally grey territory – and generally they push the needle someplace even darker.
It’s a credit score to the power of Nier Replicant’s writing and the performances of its solid that, no matter how darkish or grim issues get, its characters are at all times a pleasure to be round. The snooty sentient floating e-book Grimoire Weiss is endlessly entertaining along with his condescending commentary on no matter’s taking place; the scantily clad and foul-mouthed Kainé is simply an absolute badass and is hilarious in her vulgarity; and Emil is simply the purest and most kindhearted floating skeleton with a creepy head you’ll ever see.
I’d be remiss to go away out the hauntingly lovely soundtrack. Like Nier Automata’s, it’s composed by Keiichi Okabe and options the soothing vocals of Emi Evans, and it’s simply an absolute pleasure to hearken to. Whether or not it’s the catchy and stress-free overworld theme that performs as you’re working by the northern plains or the grand operatic music that hits while you face off towards a boss, it’s all phenomenal. And as an added bonus for model 1.22, you possibly can even change the soundtrack to Nier Automata’s for those who so want.
However like most RPGs, Nier Replicant is made up of each predominant quests and facet quests, and whereas the principle quest is implausible (effectively, at the very least finally… once more, it begins very sluggish), the facet quests are horrible. They’re completely mundane, with the overwhelming majority of them turning you into an errand boy as you bounce backwards and forwards between areas amassing substances, delivering objects, or discovering sparklies on the bottom. It’s made even worse by the truth that there’s no approach to set a facet quest as your energetic quest, which implies that there aren’t any waypoints on the map or minimap to information you to your subsequent vacation spot. That is an space that completely feels prefer it ought to have been addressed as a high quality of life enchancment for Ver. 1.22, however no cube. The truth that they’re tremendous unrewarding and never definitely worth the effort truly finally ends up being a internet optimistic as a result of it means you possibly can ignore them and go just about all the recreation with out ever letting them distract you from the principle questline.
The Finish is Simply the Starting
One of many boldest selections on the subject of Nier Replicant is the truth that, as Yoko Taro video games are inclined to, it calls for to be performed greater than as soon as. If you happen to simply did one playthrough from begin to credit, you’d be lacking out on actually half the story. This may occasionally sound like a drag, and to an extent it form of is, however that’s crucial to inform a narrative in a approach that would solely be informed by video video games – and it’s a sacrifice that’s value making. In addition to, it’s not as unhealthy because it sounds, as a result of after you beat the marketing campaign as soon as, you’re in a position to load your save again up and replay from the start of the second act. So that you’re not truly enjoying by the entire thing once more, simply the latter (and higher) half of it.
The second playthrough of Nier Replicant is definitely the very best one, as a result of though you get all the identical occasions as the primary playthrough, albeit with a couple of new scenes and crucially necessary bits of further dialogue, you’re going by those self same occasions with the data of what occurs on the finish. That which completely recontextualizes every thing all the second half and results in some actually unimaginable story moments that hit me tougher emotionally than a online game has in a while.
NieR Replicant Screenshots
The third playthrough, which you have to do so as to see the ultimate three endings, is the place issues get a bit of out of hand. It’s almost an identical to the second, and you have to additionally discover all the weapons earlier than you problem the ultimate boss. Fortunately, the sidequests which might be tied to the weapons are significantly better than the usual sidequests, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a frustratingly grindy requirement simply to see the true conclusion of the story.
And sure, for the hardcore followers questioning if there’s a brand new ending added to Ver. 1.22, with out going into spoilers let me simply say that sure, there’s one – and it’s actually particular.