Here’s an epic action RPG from 2017, a big old AAA title with interesting ideas and lots of robots. We had a go on the XBox One and sure did like it.
NieR: Automata is a Robotic RPG
Righto, this is was one of the most celebrated RPGs of recent times. It’s from the Japanese developer PlatinumGames and is a sequel to the 2010 title Nier.
Nier: Automata is an action RPG, though, with minor elements of 2D platforming and Ikaruga from the arcades. Or any other space shooters you can think of.
These sections aside, the main part of the action is traditional role-playing stuff.
As with many Japanese RPGs (JRPG), the plot is pretty complex and takes many twists and turns.
This is nothing new for the genre, it’s something of a trope these days. Chrono Trigger was at it in 1995, for example, and it’s now the norm.
NieR Automata’s Plot
The opening to the game is one of the coolest we can remember for a while, chucking in all manner of excellence at a quick rate.
It’s modern, but has a certain retrofuturistic charm to it. And it gets NieR Automata’s adventurous plot rolling.
In summary (and we’re not doing spoilers!), the game is set during a proxy war between alien-created machines and human-created androids.
You take control of 2B, a combat android of female form, and her companion 9S. The latter is a represents a geezer.
The unique thing about NieR Automata is it takes multiple playthroughs to unlock the full story. Every time you play it again, you find out something new based on the route you take.
And like many modern RPGs, you head out exploring, taking out baddies, and wondering why the protagonist is wearing such a provocative outfit.
Full credit to the developers for trying a daring approach to the plot. There are grand philosophical themes at play here, although that’s nothing new to video games.
It is, however, way behind other mediums like novels, film, and music.
But for what it’s worth, NieR Automata contemplates the nature of existence and what it means to kill other beings.
Naturally, this provides it with heavy considerations on existentialism.
NieR Automata’s Gameplay Mechanics
Structurally, the gameplay experience is fast-paced and energetic.
2B has a way of floating about the place at speed, battling robot baddies and completing quests, between advancing the main story.
It has a certain Bayonetta quality with this, as the combat system is frenetic and often difficult to figure out what’s going on.
We resorted to button bashing, which seemed to do the job.
However, NieR Automata occasionally shifts perspective. Some sections move into a 2D platformer and other times it becomes an overhead space shooter.
We enjoyed these little shifts a great deal, we must say, as they broke up the more traditional (and sometimes repetitive) nature of running around battling robots.
Issues? We did find the natural progression of the game a bit baffling a couple of times.
At one point, we were totally stuck and there was no obvious way to advance the main story. Even after completing a load of mini-quests, we really had no idea what to do.
Again, that can be quite common in RPGs. And you often have to wander around until you figure it out, but a hint would be welcome.
Hell, maybe it’s just because we’re useless noobs.
The NieR Automata Experience
Our issues with it aside, we’ve enjoyed NieR Automata a great deal.
We don’t think it’s quite the staggering masterpiece some are making out. It came out the same year as Breath of the Wild, to which we found it pales in comparison.
But there’s a lot to love about PlatinumGames’ title. Primarily as a fast-paced and spectacular romp with a big nod towards Blade Runner, Philip K. Dick’s themes of reality, and what our lot all means.
As a technical achievement it’s also very impressive, boasting some beautiful graphics and incredible backdrops. It’s a very pretty game to behold.
The soundtrack is also excellent. This may sound odd, but bits of it reminded us of the outstanding documentary Stranded: I’ve come from a plane that crashed on the mountains.
Keiichi Okabe is responsible for the work, as lead composer.
As below, there are emotive, minimalistic piano compositions with a clear emphasis on dealing with internal and external strife.
A lot of the rest of the soundtrack is more bombastic, with exotic singing sometimes mixed with pulse racing dramatics.
It’s all very impressive and a fine piece of work, even if we think it works at its best without any vocals.
Everything adds up to an impressive title in NieR: Automata. Definitely one for RPG fans to try out and enjoy.
It has a lot going for it and full credit to the developer for taking bold steps in this project, a few pressing issues aside.
Near, far, wherever you are, NieR Automata is good. Hurray.