I’ve been wanting to play NieR: Automata since I downloaded the demo about a month ago. Since I did not play the original NieR or any of the Drakengard games that came before Automata, I didn’t know what all I was in for besides a game about Androids on a Post-Apocalyptic Earth with the awesome Hack’n’Slash experience out of any Platinum game. What I received was an experience beyond anything I’ve seen in a long time.
Let’s be frank for a second. Technically, you can easily jump into the game without ever playing the original NieR. However, there are a lot of references and callbacks that do make the road a little bumpy. For that reason, I’ll be citing down below two videos you can watch that gives you a rundown of what led up to Automata. That way, should you choose to buy this game, you can go in with the important bits of the history.
I absolutely love the story of this game. As I always had this sense that I had to continue in the game because I wanted to know more. However, there were a couple of things which I was confused about…And I’m sure that I had read every archive, email, and everything else that the game throwed at me (so that I wouldn’t have been as confused as I was). Nevertheless, the issue being that such an awesome action-packed experience can easily get bogged down if you stop everything you’re doing and read the archives you’ve obtained. Luckily, there is a remedy for these moments. You’ll find that there is a lot of downtime throughout your playthroughs where you can take a moment and read up. There isn’t just one story either.
To get the entire story, you must finish the game as 2B, 9S and a mysterious third Android by the name of A2. Once you finish the story as A2, the Chapter Select option appears that allows you to replay any part of the game, allowing you to collect whatever items and weapons you didn’t get before, complete any side quest, or what-have-you. The lore is extraordinarily deep to the point that every weapon you obtain has its own story to delve into if you’re interested in that kind of thing.
The game also looks amazing. Running at a nice 1080p on the PS4 Pro (900 on standard PS4) and 60fps is only the beginning. There’s something amazing about the environments shown to us throughout the game. Whether it’s the City Ruins, the broken-down Amusement Park, or even the Desert, there’s a certain beauty for everything that you see. For this reason, enemies are few and far between. This allows you to appreciate the charm and beauty of the world around you.
The game does have a problem with textures though. As the game suffers from popping textures and near the end of the game, I did have an instance or two of lag. This usually happened when I was going in between areas and can easily be explained by the fact that the game is seamless, with the entire world being accessible without loading zones. These issues are still distracting in any case and should be mended if possible.
As expected from the original NieR, the music is almost perfect. Every area has its own sound, and each is unique from the rest. Though I’ll be honest, the City of Ruin theme comes off awful strong in comparison to the rest of the game. However, for the rest of the game, there’s nothing better than reaching a new location and getting to hear its theme for the first time. It’s a sound that should be heard in its original context to get the full experience of the game.
Let’s talk about the action. There are so many ways to play, even given how few weapon variety there is in the big picture. In the game, you have four types of weapons: Small Swords, Large Swords, Spears and Combat Bracers. This doesn’t seem like a lot until you realize that there are 40 different weapons in total, and the number of combos you can pull off with them seem almost endless. The game gives you these options along with customizable pods that allow you to shoot a Gatling spray of bullets, create giant hammers to crush the opposition, and create gravity wells that hold your enemies together so you can take them out at once.
I also never felt underleveled for where I was at. As doing the large number of side quests and fighting enemies in the main missions, does seem to give you the experience you need to be at an adequate level. As such, when I was fighting the final boss of the first act. I was only four levels below him, and I still managed to do just fine. As for the side quests, the clear majority of them have an opportunity to build the world and the NPC characters, and they succeed in doing just that. Practically everyone you meet has a story to tell, and it’s always quite the experience.
Furthermore, “Nier: Automata” offers more than “just” hack-and-slash moments, because there are plenty of segments where you take command of a flying Mech. A mech that allows you to fight your way through many airborne enemies on your way to the next segment of the story, and it comes into play into the story whenever it made sense. In other words, I never felt like I was dragging my way through a flight mission because it happens at just the right moments to give a little breathing room from the grounded environment, not that you necessarily need it.
Since you play as an Android in this game, it would only make sense that you can upgrade your personal hardware, and you can with Plug-in Chips. Enemies will sometimes drop upgrade chips that allow you to up your attack, give a shockwave to your weapon, or even auto-use an item when you’re at low health. Each one takes up a certain amount of memory, so it’s important to choose wisely.
Of course, that’s only the beginning. There is so much to this game that I couldn’t possibly talk about it all in one review. NieR: Automata gave me an experience I hadn’t seen in quite some time. The game is gorgeous in every aspect; the music is incredible. The lore is deep, and the action is everything I expected and more. I did have a couple of problems, such as the texture pops and one glitch where I knocked an enemy through a wall, but overall, I don’t think it takes away from the experience by any measure of the imagination.
+ Incredible, well-paced combat
+ Fun story that always makes you want more
+ A music score to write home about
+ Well-mapped controls that are very clear from the very beginning
– Couple instances of texture popping
– May need to read in-game archives to help make sense of the plot
Replay Value: 5/5
Never expect this again. I never want to give a perfect score to any game, but in the case with “Nier: Automata” I had to make an exception. This game is a fun trip from the very beginning. I never felt disinterested in what was going on, and the way the game changes visually in certain areas works to the game’s benefit. I expected an awesome Platinum Hack’n’Slash game, and what I got was something beyond that, a game I’m excited to complete 100%. Newcomer or longtime fan, this game is for you.
Title: NieR: Automata
Genre: Action, Hack’n’Slash, RPG
Resolution: 900p on PS4, 1080p on PS4 Pro
Release Date: 2017-03-07
Spent time: +50 hours
Average grade internationally: 89.73% Gamerankings.com
ESRB Rating: M
Robin Ek – Editor
The review code was provided by Play-Asia.
The Gaming Ground
More by Justin Easler:
Save 3$ with our Play-Asia coupon code "thegg"