FOR many gaming “titos” and Playstation OGs Square Enix will always be remembered for Final Fantasy. But for the millennials, there’s another RPG that has become synonymous with the revered gaming company–the NieR series.
Originally released for the Playstation 3 and XBox 360 in April 2010, NieR is an action role-playing video game published by Square Enix. It was released as Nier Replicant in Japan with a younger main character, while an alternative version titled Nier Gestalt was released for the XBox 360 and featured an older main character. Gestalt was released outside of Japan as Nier for both platforms.
For those who don’t know, the game is actually a spin-off from another older game called Drakengard, and follows the fifth ending of the first game, the events of which have left the planet Earth in a state of decay. Set over one thousand years after this, the game puts the player in control of the protagonist as he attempts to find a cure for an illness, known as the Black Scrawl. The gameplay borrows elements from various video game genres, occasionally switching between them and the main role-playing-based gameplay.
Ten years later, Playstation 4 gamers get a new version, which Yousuke Saito, the series producer, clarified “is not a remake or a remaster. It’s a version up.” Hence, the new subtitle which is why it is officially named Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139…
Both the original and the new version that’s out in stores right now were directed by Yoko Taro in the original and the remastered version is directed by Saki Ito. The game is also produced by Takuya Iwasaki and Yosuke Saito. And yes, its a prequel to the massively popular NieR Automata which came out in 2017.
The game puts you in a role of a young boy in a European post-apocalyptic world where humanity is picking up the pieces and is terrorized by these beings called “Shades”. Our boy doesn’t worry too much about that though because he has to constantly deal with his sick sister Yonah afflicted by this disease they called the “Black Scrawl”. He gains the power of this mysterious talking book called Grimoire Weiss and sets out in the world to find a cure and maybe save the world too while he’s at it.
Visuals and Graphics
There are a lot of themes and elements from Automata that get neatly transferred here. To call the game a facelift is a disservice too because the majority of the look and feel from the 2010 game is here, Square Enix made sure that it gets more relevant for the new players who will be jumping into the title after getting hyped by “Automata”.
Without spoiling much, there are also characters from the Automata game that make appearances in “Replicant” and they play a big role for our protagonist and his ragtag crew of warriors with colorful personalities.
The world is also refined a lot to match Automata to some extent. “Replicant” also does away with the old world and switches to 60fps for frame rates although it still suffers from the aesthetics of the 2010s era and the limit of what the Playstation 3/ Xbox 360 can do at the time. Remember, touching more will mean it would be a remake and not a remaster and clearly this game is a remaster.
The NPCs also get some necessary changes compared to the original with them now having voices so players don’t have to hurt their eyes constantly reading texts on-screen. They are stiff as a log still which comes as no surprise.
Music and Score
The musical scoring for Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… is top-notch. It’s no wonder the game has garnered such a cult following since its initial release as an action/RPG title. At one point or another you’ll find yourself listening to the overworld theme which constantly plays whenever you’re out doing main missions or side quests.
Square Enix and company also did good in making each boss battle a piece of its own with sweeping orchestra music to get you going and remind you of the sheer scale of toughness you need to overcome to move forward with the story. So gorgeous.
While the world where our heroes in Replicant traverse around looks gorgeous, the way it was created and traveling around it could have been better. Players still have to slog through load times going from one section of the big plains to get to another part.
The game uses a nice mash of slashing and gunning to take care of pesky enemies. It’s flashy and nice to look at initially but it becomes stale towards the end. You’ll definitely ask for more moves and variables and end up not getting anything new, which is sad.
NieR Replicant ver.1 also polishes the combat system and brings it to new heights. You can feel that it wants to work together with “Automata” in terms of how you dispatch enemies. Given the conditions, you can really say that the fighting is fluid and streamlined. The combat controls also get some lovin’ as it’s now easier to move around and use your magic to knockdown Shades left and right.
Mixing and matching the right skills and magic to use against enemies per area is another trick that you need to get right away. There are some enemies who fall easily to the Dark Blast magic but shrug off Dark Lance attacks. Don’t worry though as you continue on your quest, you get access to more and more new attacks.
Don’t expect a lot of weapons too for NieR Replicant as you are only confined to three weapons. The good news is that it means you can play with one particular type of weapon and finish the game and then do another game using a different type. There’s no problem too if you want to nail down every upgraded weapon before the game’s conclusion. Let me warn you though, it can be costly and requires a considerable amount of time to accomplish.
Upgrading weapons and skills can also be done by adding in “Words”, these literal words can be attached to give additional buffs such as additional attack points or defense points or even increase your magic’s effectiveness.
Camera angles are never boring in NieR Replicant. They can be tricky too like there’s one particular segment in the Junk Heap area that tricks you into thinking the gap was short enough for a double jump but then you need to switch perspective to see just how far you have to go to make it to the other side.
Other times, the camera also shifts the genre making the game go from being a standard slash and bash game to button-holding platform shooter and that works really well. Really surprised they thought of this a decade ago. In the early parts of the game, you have to follow Kaine in a multi-segmented boss fight in the Aerie where the game becomes a sidescroller and you find yourself shooting at enemies with Dark Blast to clear the way and make it to the next area.
Story and Narrative
Nier’s story starts slow but gradually builds up to a point where it’s almost impossible not to want to see what happens next. The game’s story is rich and the characters are interesting whether its our main hero Nier or the foul-mouthed and scantily clad Kaine or even the aloof Emil, the game provides spunk and character.
Beware though as the game can get pretty dark sometimes and will often focus on death and despair. But like real life, there are a lot of positive things to take from the experience.
One aspect most games don’t offer these days is replayability and NieR Replicant gives us that. There are a total of five endings that you need to unlock that gives a new twist. And take note that this isn’t something where you start a new game and make alternate choices from your previous playthrough. This means you end the game, start a new game, finish it with the proper parameters and get a different ending. Some of these endings even makes you face hard decisions which will impact your next playthrough.
It’s these little things that make NieR Replicant such a good game in the current-gen consoles and one that makes it a classic for fans.
Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… is an outstanding game in its current form. Its hampered by dated stuff but Square Enix and its team did an excellent job of giving it the necessary updates to proudly stand with its sleeker, hyped up successor. The game still suffers from silly sidequests and can get a little tiring from time to time especially if you want to see the ending. It’s power though is what made it popular back then; a good story, dialogue and an equally entertaining cast especially Grimoire Weiss. Combat is more polished than the original and there are new contents worth investing all those hours in.
REVIEW SCORE: 8/10
Special thanks to our favorite FanboySEO Earl for contributing this review!