NieR: Automata

Few games sparked so much interest in 2017 as NieR: Automata. A successor of not so well received NieR and a spinoff of Drakengard series, the game has paid dividends to NieR but also improved upon its design and introduced a fresh story and characters. It should also be noted that this game comes from Square Enix, a developer company responsible for Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy games, so you can already guess what kind of a game masterpiece you’re looking at.

When Robots Feel

NieR: Automata takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, centuries after humanity fled to the Moon in the wake of a powerful extra-terrestrial enemy. Now, in year 11945 AD, the android resistance fights a proxy war with extra-terrestrial machines to retake the Earth for the sake of humanity. The player takes control of 2B, a combat android, as well as 9S and A2, and hacks, slashes and shoots their way through the enemies, but also engages in platforming and shooting your way out of bullet-hells.

Indeed, part of why Automata is so popular (not counting the waifu material) is the mixing of game styles. For one part, Automata is an RPG, and the player makes an effort toward upgrading the character with chips that are either bought or looted. There are also different weapons, and combat, for the most part, is action- and skill-based where the player slays enemies using weak and strong attacks, alternating between the two, dodges and shoots. However, there is plenty of platforming involved, and in the traditional sense, with side-scrolling camera. The camera can turn isometric at some points, the game turns into a side-scrolling shooter at some point (the famous roller-coaster ride), and sometimes 2B will be given access to a flying mech that will allow her to dispatch enemies in bullet-hell styles. You can, occasionally, summon animal mounts, with the same riding mechanics present in NieR, complete with drifting.

As far as the story goes, it’s a little anime-ish and convoluted, as expected from a Japanese studio. The story has many twists and turns, and many characters interacting, and, at some point, you’ll have to start taking notes. The characters are also typically anime-ish, with predominant traits that govern their actions, as well as a little overdramatic. Not only that but, due to the dark style of the game and the setting, the characters sometimes seem flat, dry and humorless, making it harder to relate to them.

In the wake of Dark Souls, Automata follows a similar format of the death and blood stain mechanic. When you die, your corpse will still be there where you left it. At this point, you may try and find it, and collect the items, you may resurrect your corpse as a temporary ally, or you can fight it for some bonuses. And with the addition of online play, you can do this with corpses of other players as well. Oh, and you can self-destruct too, which won’t kill you, but severely damage you.

Conclusion

In the end, NieR: Automata is a truly stunning game on all fronts. For people who like anime, it will be the convoluted story will be no problem, and neither will overdramatic characters. But the game’s true worth lies in the diversity of gameplay and seamless combat, and that makes the game more than worth playing.