Nier (2010) Review

Posted: January 23, 2015 in Console Games, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Rating: 7-5
EU Release Date: April 23, 2010 (for Xbox 360)
Total play time: 34:58:29 (Normal Mode)

I loved this game. From the very first line of dialogue, this game was working its way into my favourites. And the longer I played, the more I loved it.

The tutorial level begins in 2049, in the ruins of a big city. You are introduced to your character (referred to by the game manual as “The Father”), struggling to protect his young, ill daughter Yonah from shadowy monsters. After a seemingly endless wave of monsters and a whistle-stop tour of all the magic available in the game, something happens and you find yourself 1300 years in the future.

Now, for me, this is where the game lost half a star. There are certain plot points in this game that don’t quite make sense. However, NieR is a kind of sequel to 2003 game, Drakengard, which I have not played and, like Drakengard, it has several possible endings, of which have seen only one.

Battling a giant shade.

But back to the game. The Father is still looking after Yonah, who has an illness known as The Black Scrawl. As he travels the land in search of a cure, he fights all manner of monsters, including the shades from the tutorial, giant robots and rampaging local wildlife. Along the way, he picks up a magic, talking book called Grimoire Weiss and meets Kainé, a foul-mouthed young woman who joins him to battle shades. The last companion is Emil, a boy with no family who turns everything he looks at to stone. Together, they unlock the Sealed Verses, magic that should allow Grimoire Weiss to cure the Black Scrawl. Sealed Verses gathered, they head home, but disaster strikes when a gigantic shade attacks the village and the most fearsome of all, the Shadowlord, swoops in, threatening to steal away Grimoire Weiss – and worse, Yonah. Your new focus is to rescue her, but it is not without its own complications.

The Father and his companions

The Father and his companions

The story is strong in this game and strengthened by well-written and unusual characters. The Father is one of my favourite main protagonists in any game I’ve ever played – he will do anything for his daughter, regardless of the cost to himself. What’s even more refreshing about him is that he’s not a teenager, like most Japanese video game protagonists. He’s over 40. And Kainé isn’t all sweet and innocent; she’s one of the rudest characters I’ve ever encountered and I love her for it.

Another brilliant aspect of this game is the variety of play styles it incorporates. For the most part, it is played as an RPG. You explore the maps, battle the monsters, find treasure and level up. However, venture into the Forest of Myth, and you find yourself in a beautifully-written text adventure where success is reliant on observation and good decision making. Go to the desert and you face dungeons full of puzzles to solve with platform-style passages in between. Emil’s mansion is decidedly Resident Evil in style – complete with camera angles that occasionally spin you 180 degree and creepy music.

In fact, the music is brilliant throughout the game. Emi Evan’s haunting vocals perfectly capture the melancholy feeling of the game – a world on the edge of despair. On the strength of the soundtrack alone, this is a game worth checking out.

This game might just break your heart. I’m not sure if it’s quite in league with Crisis Core, but it has made me cry once already. And , if the first play through didn’t melt the ice around your heart, there are alternate endings that might. Keep playing past Ending A and you find out more about the story you’ve just seen – including snippets of the story from the viewpoint of the shades. You think you’re the good guy? You might need to think again.

  1. […] by Platinum Games and released in 2017, NieR: Automata is a sequel to the cult classic game NieR (Cavia, 2010). Set thousands of years in the future, NieR: Automata is an action role playing game […]

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