Nier: Automata – Review
“Everything that lives is designed to end”
A chilling concept to open a game with, but one that is no less true. This is the existential sentiment that Nier: Automata opens on, making you question everything you think before you even see who is talking. Three seconds in and this game is already more powerful than anything I’ve played in a long while; taking me by the hand and pulling me further in.
Nier: Automata is an action RPG published by Square Enix, the second game in the Nier series, although unrelated to its predecessor (bar a few subtle references). It follows the journey of 2B and her mission partner 9S, both of which are android soldiers manufactured to fight against aliens that have driven humanity from Earth with their evil machines.
For two beings that are essentially robots, the emotional response they elicit from the gamer is unreal. 9S is instantly likeable with his sense of humour, good nature and youthful appearance and attitude. 2B, the protagonist of the game, is much more closed off. Though seemingly capable of feelings, she chooses to shun them and keep herself closed off from 9S and all others around her- a concept that is more human than realised. The most fired up you’re going to see 2B get is when she’s demolishing bad guys- which is something she does very well.
The battle system in this game is fluid and beautiful. 2B explodes in vicious energy to cut down anything that stands in her way, and with a variety of weapon combinations and combo moves there’s a range of ways to destroy what stands in your way. Most weapons also have the ability to be upgraded and altered, giving you further avenues for customisation. Nier: Automata also has an auto-battle mode (if played on the easiest difficulty), which is worth checking out at least once. It shows what battles look like if you’re actually good at the game (which in the beginning I very much was not). 2B glides around the world with ease, using her weapons as projectiles and flipping all over the place to lay waste to the bad guys.
Customisation in Nier: Automata isn’t restricted to weapons either; you can customise pretty much everything including 2B herself, and her trusty pod, a floating artificial intelligence system that kicks arse. This is done through the use of ‘chipsets’ which can be purchased from the various storefronts in the world. Chips take up memory, however, which isn’t unlimited, so you’re going to want to be particular about which ones you use, especially later on in the game.
I enjoyed absolutely everything about this game but what stood out to me the most was the sheer amount of emotions it was able to elicit from me considering you’re playing as an android who doesn’t believe in feelings. As 2B and 9S walk through the shattered remnants of the planet Earth there’s a sense of idyllic calm that washes over you. There is nobody left. There are no more people on this planet; only the androids that have been sent here to save it, the machines that have been created to destroy it, and the animals that are happily existing in the middle of it all (except that moose that stomped me into oblivion when I walked up to him for a pat. He wasn’t very happily existing.) At every turn in the plot there’s something that digs into your skin and kickstarts your empathy. Even side quests had me pondering thoughts and deliberating over decisions that could potentially hurt character’s feelings. Yes, I didn’t want to hurt the feelings of an android. Shutup.
There is a lot of beauty in this game; not just in the storyline and the characters but also in the graphics and the soundtrack as well. I’ve never utilised the in-game screenshot function on my PS4 as often as I did whilst playing this game- I just wanted to capture everything because it was just that pretty.
The only thing about this game that didn’t score a 10/10 was the fishing mini-game. I don’t know what it is with RPG games and fishing these days, but it has to stop. Fishing is never done right and it has to come to an end. Besides, doesn’t 2B have better things to do? Like saving the world?
Nier: Automata is easily one of the best games I’ve played in a long time. It evoked an emotional and thoughtful response from me, and overall, is just a tonne of fun to play. It’s polished and gorgeous with a quirky sense of humour to break up the more deep, dark existential themes that run through. If “to be or not to be” is the question running through your head, trust me when I say the answer is always “2B”.