2010 was a strange time for Japanese gaming, it was considered behind the times compared to western efforts, this meant alot of titles were overlooked for being “archaic” by reviewers firmly stuck behind cover in whatever cover shooter was changing the world that month, NieR suffered such a fate.
NieR Automata is widely considered one of the greatest games/narratives of the last generation and introduced a whole legion of gamers to Yoko Taro’s Drakengard born world, Square Enix have decided to let the dull gem known as NieR shine once again and grab the attention of the audience it so sorely deserved.
NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139 is a remake of the original titles with a few added bells and whistles attached. Putting you in the oversized boots of Brother Nier from the original Japanese release instead of Papa Nier from the Western releases your task is to find a cure for the Black Scrawl which has consumed your sisters body.
Along the way you’ll meet an insanely colourful and interesting cast starting with the sarcastic, all powerful and very amnesiac book Grimoire Weiss, the internet favourite foul mouthed hussy Kaine and the loveable familiar to some Emiil.
The story is fantastic and has a tendency to flirt with disaster and keeps your characters choices and actions in a rather uncomfortable grey area, something you don’t usually associate with a title from Square Enix.
It’s an engaging, hard hitting and brilliantly written story with a fantastic cast of characters who have an air of mystery to them throughout, much like the main narrative which keeps its card close to its chest until the right time culminating in more than a few jaws left ajar when the credits roll.
Visually NieR Replicant has a very distinct look, while it isn’t something I was describe as “pushing the limits of graphics” it looks great and the dulled colours really drive home the fact that the world has definitely seen better days.
The character models are fine even if the faces on them leave a lot to be desired. Animations are fine but throughout the game you’re plagued by stiff physics and invisible walls, as nice as this game looks it still has some old bones!
NieR was most famous for its music, often fans of the original (myself included) are guilty of harping on about how good the soundtrack is before anything else, it’s even better here. Keiichi Okabe has returned to help remaster and create some new tracks for this already game selling soundtrack and by the gods it’s happened again.
The soundtrack in NieR Replicant can switch from beautifully Orchestrated music to a techno thumping beat, switch over to heavy metal and be back on the harp as the scenes permit and it works just oh so well.
Voice acting is also done really well and gives the characters such charm, I never tired of hearing Weiss snap back at Nier or Kaine belt out some verses that would make even the most experienced of sailors blush. The NPCs have also been given voice acting this time around and that makes the world feel a little more real and just adds to the other ever growing quality of the remake.
Now the gameplay in NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139 remains largely unchanged from the original release, it’s still a genre bending, 3rd person action RPG only this time it has much better combat!.
Taking hints from Automata, the combat now features combos which can be performed with the weak and heavy attacks and there is also a parry system which goes a long way to improving the combat here where in the original it was very much one note and not nothing to write home about.
Aiding you in combat will be your A.I party members and Weiss who acts as your projectile and magic attacks, the true beauty of the combat in NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139 is that one moment your hacking and slashing away, the next stuck in an intense bullet hell shoot out!.
The game will see you running across its world, jumping, fighting, solving puzzles and completing a mountains worth of side quests through the story. The story does take a little while to really get going but around the 10 hour mark if you’ve been hitting the side quests such see you fully invested in the world and it’s plight.
Now NieR liked to be different and it was honestly a breath of fresh air on release, melding together different genres in a rather taboo tale, there is fishing, crafting, bullet hell sections, top down dungeon crawling and even a text based dungeon, these are back and beautifully break up the pace and offer side activities for you to spend even more time.
Anyone who’s played Drakengard or NieR Automata will know that when the credits roll that it isn’t the end of the show and NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139 follows suit.
When you finish the game you’re granted Ending A, this game has endings all the way to E, fortunately you don’t have to replay the full 35/40 hours and it does change aspects of the game and story each time you return, trust me you’ll want to see them all!.
In terms of extras, there is a new ending, new cutscenes woven throughout the game, new weapons, a new story arc and the DLC from the original comes over too with a very welcome guest appearance.
The only things I would say that drag NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139 somewhat are the literal onslaught of side quests, the grinding for the weapons and the rather slow start. Aside from these issues I still maintain the stance that NieR is one of my favourite adventures ever produced by SE and Yoko Taro. I was shocked when Automata was announced and loved it but I always felt more of a connection to the original, this remake thankfully only changes enough to make it the definitive way to play NieR rather than tearing it’s soul from the game or trying to make it fall in line too much with Automata.
I would warn newcomers to NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139 that this is still very much the original 2010 release, it has shinier graphics and some extras to help it be a little more digestible but all in all this is NieR Replicant/Gestalt warts and all & I for one wouldn’t have it any other way.
Imperfect Perfection, the niche beast is back in its ultimate form
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