**SPOILER TERRITORY, PLEASE DO NOT KEEP READING IF YOU INTEND TO PLAY THROUGH WITH NO PRIOR KNOWLEDGE**
P.S. – All images captured from my own gameplay.
Let me get this out of the way immediately:
NieR: Automata is one of the best, most aggravating, complicated games of all time.
This is due to the “unconventional” director, Yoko Taro, making the decision to create a meta, philosphically bloated game featuring sexy androids. On one hand, this is a typical anime-trope heavy action romp–on the other, it’s a heady sci-fi exploration of humanity with skill-based fight mechanics.
The synopsis of the story is that you are part of YoRHa, an organization of uptight androids created by the last of humanity to fight and destroy machines that were sent by aliens to eradicate humanity. Sounds convoluted like this, but it gets much worse [the lore is loosely linked to the prior Nier as well as the Drakengard series, but I have no knowledge of those].
N:A is a film theorist’s dream, with hints at existential questions and no answers for really any of the main story problems. However, if the title was more straightforward, it probably wouldn’t have been as popular. I say this because if you didn’t know, YOU HAVE TO FINISH THE GAME 5 TIMES TO GET THE “TRUE” ENDING.
NieR: Automata has 26 different endings, one for each letter of the alphabet. Most are inconsequential, or just jokes, but each time you get an ending, you are presented the end credit sequence and kicked back to the title screen. Endings A through E are the ones that matter.
I played this game as part of the Video Game Book Club for LFG KC, which started as a hopeful playthrough of a popular game with plenty of talking points. Forty-four hours later, I had run out of steam (marathoning the game on 5 or 6 occasions) and wanted the validation of that 5th ending.
Don’t get me wrong–I made a hefty statement at the start. This game is outstanding.
I could talk about this game for a long time, so I will simply give bullet points and you can comment your argument or agreement below–thanks for understanding.
- There’s a reason the female main characters are famous online. Search 2B fanart and be pleased
- Graphically stunning character models
- Flashy, smooth-as-butter animations
- Gameplay switches from hack & slash to shmup or isometric bullet hell in several awesome instances
- Combat and winning battles is physically satisfying
- Large world to beat on robots to your heart’s content
- Lengthy, twisty sci-fi story
- Meta jokes that would make Deadpool blush
- Ending E is one of the most unique moments in gaming
- There’s a reason the female characters are famous online. Search Rule 34 2b and you will likely regret
- The difficulty level is completely fabricated (to be unfair)
- Large swathes of gameplay requires more healing than attacking
- Large environment is full of uninspired sidequests
- Saving ability is extremely inconsistent
- Plotholes abound
- Not enough enemy designs
Even though it has a few problems, I sustain that NieR: Automata has been one of my favorite gaming experiences in years. It is beautiful, thought-provoking, and far more experimental than most triple-A games get to be. It is worth the time investment–just know what you’re getting into.
P.S. This game is yet another killer app available via Xbox Game Pass. If you’re already a member, then this is a must-play. If you’re not, Microsoft is probably doing that $1 first month trial, and there literally is not a better deal out there. Get to it!