What defines a great Yoko Taro game? Great combat, amazing animations, and freaky as hell storyline. And all of these elements are found in Nier Automata, Yoko Toro’s latest outing. A PlayStation 4 exclusive, Nier Automata shines and developers should surely be proud of what they have put forward.
Nier Automata Review
Nier Automata challenges the definition of living. Even after you are done with the game, you may find yourself asking one question;”what does it mean to be alive?”
Nier Automata brings us a world overrun by machines. The concept seems overused and dated but it is not the concept, it is its presentation and the subtle Yoko Taro touch that makes Automata a great game. You are playing as 2B, a female android, and you also have 9S as a companion by your side.
Nier Automata is probably the first game in a long time that managed to actually bring out the player’s emotions for an android. By the end of it all, you will start you deeply care about the character and the events taking place throughout her journey.
The original Nier lacked when it comes to engaging gameplay but its narrative was enough to develop a cult following. The sequel took notes from the original’s shortcomings and focused more on gameplay. Platinum Games is also the developer of Bayonetta so you will notice Bayonetta DNA in Automata’s gameplay.
Your movements are swift, fluent, and the final blow feels satisfying. Meanwhile, a simple yet streamlined dodge and counter system keeps you in control of the situation.
You also have support from your companion who offers ranged attacks during combat. You can upgrade the abilities of your companion making it potent. Options are limited but effective – lasers, shields, and we also have a hammer for our companion.
The upgrade system is very interesting and slightly differs from our usual “earn skill points and upgrade” systems. The upgrades are handled by plug-in chips. There is a maximum threshold which is expandable and interestingly, you can customize your HUD elements within this system. You can remove damage stats to compensate another attack increase, auto heal, among other things.
The hack n slash gameplay is the most fun but that’s not all Nier Automata has to offer. Platinum Games blends genres with help from some not so subtle camera angle shifts. Every now and then it feels like a side-scrolling R-Type shooter. The camera angles do become a problem sometimes when fighting indoors and in enclosed places.
The top-down or side-scrolling angles make dodging difficult. You will also notice a mini-game when you slice into enemies, it sort of becomes a twin-stick game. You can break down firewalls and use antivirus software against enemies which is fun for the first a couple of hours, but it becomes extremely repetitive.
There is also some minor Souls DNA in there as you lose your chips when you die. You need to come back to collect your chips from the dead body.
The game’s combat is without a doubt the highlight of Nier Automata so the narrative had its work cut-out for it. However, it is safe to say that Nier Automata’s narrative is cohesive and coherent. It is one of the best works of Yoko Taro.
There is depth to Nier’s narrative, there are multiple endings, and each will make the story whole in a different way. For those new to this time of a game, you can go with the easy mode and enjoy the narrative. The easy mode allows you to have auto-chips which basically does everything for you so you can enjoy the story. The mode also benefits those with lesser reflexes.
The game is around 30 hours long and throughout your journey you will get to know a number of different characters. You will have a deeper understanding of the characters, their motives, and what drives them to survive. Some mature themes are covered such mental illness, religion, loneliness, and aggression.
The environment and art style are gorgeous, the open-ended nature of the map compliments the themes of loneliness within an android, and a soundtrack that helps immerse in the ambiance. Of course, sometimes we do feel like developers could have added more to the world, especially, in certain large areas. But we understand that developers wanted us to feel alienated at times, which works.
One could argue that the game’s limited budget and hardware limitations may also have something to do with this. Platinum Games consists of a committed bunch of developers and their hard work combined with Taro’s unique story telling ability makes Nier Automata a thought provoking experience.
Apart from minor glitches and frame rate issues, the overall game is pretty well optimized. It would surely need an update to deal with these issues though.
Nier Automata exceptionally delivers on every cylinder and leaves a lasting impression.