Imagine being put in charge of creating a sequel to a spinoff game. That’s like asking if you could maybe create bubble-gum tasting broccoli. Sure, it’d be nice, but who the hell could do that?! Thankfully, Square Enix & PlatinumGames have been put in charge of such a task (just the game this time) and we’re presented with the amazing Nier: Automata. However, this time we’re diving into the goodness that is the ‘Game of the Yorha’ (aka Game of the Year) Edition!
Unlike other JRPGs, whereby you’re thrusted into a linear story that forces you to follow the story by playing as only one specific character, Nier: Automata breaks down the story into three chapters, playing each as a different character, all of which have their own ending. This does wonders for the overall story arch, allowing you to be emotionally invested and not just limiting you to reacting to one character hypothetically dying or turning evil.
As the game opens, we’re dropped into the year 11945AD and sadly, the world really isn’t in a good shape. Looking like something set in the Mad-Max / post-apocalyptic style world, a war between two robotic factions is taking place. On one side, the YoRHa (Androids, created by Humans) up against the Machines (attackers from a distant planet).
Chapter 1 sees you play as ‘2B’, a female android and ‘Pod 042’, a hovering robot. You undergo the standard tutorial style introduction, with the refreshing factor being that despite the additions of huge katana style swords as your default weapon, bringing back the favourite button mashing / hack-n-slash fighting game, it also includes a shooting style aspect to the game, via previously mentioned Pod 042. This breathes immense life back into the genre, keeping it common but fresh. During this time, you’re introduced to Anemone, the resistance leader & Pascal, a passive machine who extremely dislikes fighting.
You’ll find extremely hard to put down, yet when you do finish it, you’ll want to immediately play again
You discover that the main enemies are named ‘Adam & Eve’, two androids who have been discovered to have killed their original creators. Taking a page from Agent Smith from The Matrix series, the dastardly duo have broken free of their machine-controlled mindset and have essentially gone rogue.
Chapter 2 allows you to play as a male android, ‘9S’ & his robot traveller ‘Pod 153’. 9S main skill is being able to hack other machines. This aspect, once again, provides a new aspect to the game, allowing you to take a new approach to the term ‘hack-n-slash’ (see what I did there?).
Chapter 3 adds ‘A2’, an older gen-android, who has a history with 2B…
As previously mentioned, Nier: Automata’s gameplay takes heritage from the traditional hack-n-slash style gameplay that we’ve come to know & love. Its almost a given these days: If your main character has a gigantic sword, and is of JRPGs style creation, you’re in for a button mashing good time! The addition to the game is the shooting aspect, via your assistance droids. On paper, yes, it does appear to be a confusing element to add to a combo-busting, sword-swinging thrill ride but Nier does an amazing job of making the two hybrids.
Unfortunately, like most JRPGs, the action can sometimes overwhelm the camera, and you’ll find yourself wildly swinging the control stick around trying to refocus on the task at hand. This really does take some of the joy out of the game, because you don’t want to continuously switch between the consistent battle of camera angles vs the on-screen enemies, but even so it’s not even to hinder the overall product.
Eventually, the game presents you with ‘Plug-in’ chips. These are equippable boosters that you can add, or ‘plug in’ to your playable robotic hero, ranging from increasing your HP, invulnerability, increase of attack etc.
Nier’s gameplay style shows strong similarities to that of ‘Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance’, another game coming from the mind and development of PlatinumGames. Though somewhat arcade in nature (hack-n-slash attack this, shoot that, rinse, repeat), Nier’s story and alternate gameplay mechanics keep the action, and your attention, in check.
The only downside to Nier’s controls is the previously mentioned camera sensitivity. Even with the enemy lock-on targeting system button, the camera will flip out and on rare occasions drop the lock-on of the enemy. But again, it’s not enough to take away from the entire product as a whole.
GRAPHICS + SOUND
Game Developer PlatinumGames, arguably most famous for their work on the Bayonetta Series, & Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, has done an impeccable job on bringing the world of Nier to life, via amazingly fluid graphics, when comparing it to its former game in the series, Nier (2010). Given the huge task of updating a former game from a previous generation of consoles, whilst creating a sequel, NieR: Automata really does an impressive job, visually, across the board. Having played this game on the PS4 Pro, comparatively with the standard PS4, the Pro does an impeccable job handling and providing what’s required to make this game run silky smooth.
The sound design is fantastic too. Keiichi Okabe returns as the lead composer, providing the continuation of the immaculate sound quality that only NieR provides. All hits, movement and interaction-based sounds are crystal clear, with the orchestral music slotting in perfect with the on-screen story, easily switching between calm free roaming music to intense fast passed battle music.
DLC The Game of the YoRHa Edition is equal to that of a ‘Game of the Year’ release of game. For those that aren’t familiar with the term, ‘Game of the Year’ is a collection of all previously released downloadable content, all placed on disc or in some cases inserted into the main story of a game, allowing a finished start-to-end flow of a game.
Along with a ton of cosmetic upgrades and a few avatars to use for your PlayStation Network profile, the Game of the YoRHa Edition includes the ‘3C3C1D119440927’ DLC. Despite the name, the DLC unlocks a variety of high-level battle arenas, which all come with various restrictions and additions, providing an optional challenge towards the end of the game.
Considering the huge leap in graphics, sound and gameplay, NieR: Autoamta Game of the YoRHa Edition hits a massive home run on every critical aspect thrown its way. The character designs are unlike any seen before it, the story is in-depth, yet easy to follow. With the visually blissful scenery and now having all the additional content included, NieR: Autoamta Game of the YoRHa Edition is a game you’ll find extremely hard to put down, yet when you do finish it, you’ll want to immediately play again.
- Extremely hard to put down
- The action can sometimes overwhelm the camera