I’ve been a very big fan with full and semi-open world games and NieR: Automata just got added to my very own ‘to play’ list. When my wish came true and got the chance to play the full game myself, I got so hooked since it was both open world at the same time it was on third-person. NieR: Automata is (as what Wikipedia defines it as..) an action role-playing video game developed by Platinum Games and published by no other than Square Enix themselves.

This is made available to both the Playstation 4 console as well as Microsoft Windows this year. It’s a major spin-off from the Nier universe which was also derived from originally from the Drakengard series. What’s so cool about getting the game is that when it was first released in Asia, they thought about releasing an English-dubbed version of the game as well. Talk about thoughtfulness.

nier: automata

Platform Reviewed: PS4
Platform Available: PS4, PC
Developer: Platinum Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: February 23, 2017 (Japan, Asia) / March 7, 2017 (North America)
Price: $59.99
This review is based on a review build provided by the developers/publisher.
[Editor’s note: There are no embargo details provided to us by the publisher for the Japan/Asia version. The Japan/Asia version has english dubs and subtitles.]

The game’s story unfolds by presenting YoRHa No. 2 Type B a.k.a 2B a calm and serious combat android who was also the sole survivor of a search-and-destroy mission to eliminate gigantic machines called Automata that has been plaguing Earth for quite some time now. The game’s set in a post-apocalyptic world where an on-going war between man and machine has been at play. It all started when a group of alien lifeforms invaded earth and started to create machines to destroy all human life. Well, they managed to do most of it though.

Luckily a few human survivors managed to get away and built a stronghold on the moon and began their research in creating the most perfect countermeasure – life size androids shaped from their image and likeness. It’s also noticeable that they’re more fond of creating female versions rather than males since they dominate more in the force. Though in the game, 2B gets assistance from a male combat android – YoRHa No.9 a.k.a. 9S whose been assigned to provide surveillance and tactical support to 2B all throughout the game which creates a break in their “all females” army.

The game’s mechanics is simple – look for enemy bots. Hack-and-slash them and make them go boom! With her wide array of weapons which includes both a katana and a broad sword (that can be upgraded as you progress through the game) combo, as well as a small mechanized robot called a Pod. It does both small and large-scale damage in long-ranged combat and act as 2B’s comms-channel/beacon to make contact with ‘Command’ and 9S.

Apart from this, 2B can also gain access to a spear as well as combat bracers should the player want a deviation of the sword’s hack-and-slash barrage. Along with upgradable weapons, 2B can also find and collect certain items in the game called ‘chips’ that she can literally insert inside her system circuitry which provides either attack, defense, support and other ups. The number of chips that can be utilized are quite limited though, that is why the game provides sets that the player can customize so it’ll be easier to switch during the course of the game.

nier: automata 1

The controls are not that much different from any RPG game I’ve come across so far. It still invokes a menu where players can access (and customize) 2B’s weapons and items as well as her skills. The attack, action and jump buttons are pretty much the same. Aiming still uses L2 but firing at enemies using 2B’s Pod utilizes the R1 button which was kinda off for me at first.

Switching weapons is made easier by toggling the Up directional key, Pods can be exchanged by using either the Left of Right one and tapping on the down directional key allows the player to access the items menu for easy usage of consumables like ‘Small’, ‘Medium’ or ‘Large’ Recovery items that restores 25%, 50% and 75% HP respectively.

The left analog stick still commands movement from the character you are playing while L3 toggles the flashlight should 2B need illumination when exploring caves or dark areas in the game. However, the right analog stick still provides that 360-degree feel when navigating however there are times wherein its movement is restricted especially when it’s fixed in a top-down or side-scroller mode.

nier: automata 2

What I love about Nier: Automata is its crude contradiction of being unique and somewhat familiar in its own way. It strongly reminds me of one of Square Enix’s latest release – Final Fantasy XV. The way the game provides an A.I. that follows you around as well as the never-ending quests from all the areas that you come across with, not to mention it also has its own fishing and racing challenges!

How the character teleports in the game is also pretty much similar as with any RPG s. You discover a vendo-type machine located across the game and from there you get to move around from one area to another – fast-travel, in short. What’s more is that, these tele-vendos (as what I call them) are not just located in towns or settlements, but they can also be found in random areas around the map which makes it easier for the player to move around especially when doing quests! They also provide access to an email-like option wherein 2B can receive messages from ‘Command’ as well as other NPC’s that they’ve been introduced to.

A quicksave option is also made available through them though, saving can be done without direct interaction as long as 2B is within the tele-vendo’s signal which can be identified on the screen while in game. By accessing the network features, the game has this option of providing some kind of support to other players that are also online. Now, I’m not implying a multiplayer functionality here, okay. It just allows the player to pray (as what the game calls it) for another player’s (from across the planet) fallen character.

By doing so, that other player’s character somewhat revives or receives a certain boost from you. After doing so, you get to choose between two options: revive the inanimate character’s android and acquire loot from it, or repair the downed robot and it’ll provide you additional assistance in your travels. Now THIS was something I haven’t come across with in other RPGs which makes the game more alluring to play.

nier: automata 3

The musical score is excellent – no, superbly made as well. It reminds me of a Vision of Escaflowne OVA I watched a long time ago or that blackbuster movie Spirited Away’s created by Hayao Miyazaki (which is by the way an awesome anime). Apart from that, the game’s viewing angle is quite varied since it toys around a few lines of sight: behind the character (which is a third-person norm), top-down (which was employed by some old timers like Contra or this indie game I played before – Neon Chrome and the oldest of angles the side-scroller which was used by the earliest of the Mario Bros. franchise.). NieR: Automata also boasts stunning graphics and awesome gameplay which makes it by far one of the most anticipated triple AAA game this year.

As with all other games, it also has things which I personally consider to be somewhat a pain to deal with. YES, I did mention above that one of NieR: Automata’s strengths is how its camera angles are varied however in the long run, it becomes more of a challenge for me since there are some battles where I want to have a certain view (side-scroll for example) but instead its stuck onto the top-down view.

Another bump is its aiming sequence where I can’t seem to put a finger on how to properly aim 2B’s Pod’s high-powered ‘laser beam’ which ends up in me firing it in all the wrong directions completely missing the target in the process. It could just be me though, I dunno (lol). And lastly, sometimes I get easily annoyed by the A.I. 9S since it sometimes blocks where 2B is supposed to go.

Whenever I try to jump to some higher place, since 9S is blocking the way I wouldn’t be able to nail it the first time around or when I tend to circle back from where I came from, 2B’s character doesn’t just slip through 9S’ which ends in me dragging 9S’ sorry butt backwards all the way back to where I started. Talk about awkward movement. But despite these areas where the game might need some improvement on, this game is quite a huge success. It caught my attention from start to finish and it made me yearn for more when it ended. As what a famous quote said, “All good things come to those who wait.”


9.0

AWESOME

IT’S A MUST-HAVE GAME AND CAN SECURE A SPOT IN YOUR COLLECTION.
Read our Review Policy here to know how we go about our reviews.


  • Note5

    Like HZD and Nioh I knew this game is going to be a very special game when I first saw it.
    Love at first sight.

  • Rob_Steinman

    Amazing article, congrats God bless you!

  • Edonus

    I just dont buy it. I have been gaming too long to fall for these marketing tricks and over trending actions. Ps4 games have been racking up insane high level review scores. At first glance it would seem like we are in a gaming renaissance…. all of these near perfect games, how could we not be.

    But I am more inclined to look deeper. I havent seen anything special or new about any of these games. They are all technological things we have all seen before. And thats fine but so many and all getting only the highest marks. Then the fact that all of these games are Ps4 exclusives too…. So you are telling me with all this super development going on the people making games that are only on Ps4 are the one that learned these new super techniques.

    I am playing through RE7 righ now and it seemed like the game had to fight tooth and nail to be higher than a 7. I am playing the game right now and it is actually great should be 8.5 to 9.0 yet I have seen Last Guardian, Horizon, Nioh, Gravity Rush 2 getting 9s and 10s like water. The odds of these scores being accurate and not fluffed is so high its blatantly obvious that they are. Not saying they arent great games. Just that what we see in scores isnt going to represent the reality of what we play.

    • MiamiBeachMedMan

      Higher review scores should tell you that on aggregate, most people think they’re better games. That doesn’t mean they’re “better” for you, it simply means that the people who play them all judge them accordingly, and whether that suits your tender sensibilities or not, the score is the score.

      I would also note, many sites only depend on one reviewer scoring the game, so if that reviewer has a certain preference or bias, it is what it is. But that’s why you have review aggregators, which account for the many, and not the few. And if a game gets a higher score across the board, then people generally think it’s a “better” game.

    • Niello

      Here’s something that might change your mind. First, this is not exclusive, it will also be available on steam. Second, NieR, the original game, was considered a cult classic. When it was released other than the praise for its music it received reviews that labelled it as mediocre, like 6/10 or even a 0. As it turned out, the gameplay was was rather rough, and some reviewers got discouraged from the tedious side quests and some for its fishing mechanic. However, it’s very well loved by fans, mainly for the story, characters, music, and its absurd boldness.

      The thing is, every games Yoko Taro (the director) has made since Drakengard 1 (Nier is a spin-off of this) are supposed to be played more than once. In other word, you are supposed to play the new game + as part of the experience, as these new game + are more special than you might’ve thought. Reviewers don’t do this. These new game + often layer new narratives on top of what you have already experienced in the first run and will often net you different endings, new scenarios, new bosses, and new insights enough to change your understanding of the story, the world, the characters, 180 degrees.

      So here is a mechanic spoilers about the original Nier that makes the game interesting. I highly recommend you search for “Nier opening” on Youtube as a quick look on the game. So, by the second play through you’d realise that while the MC intention is pure, his actions doesn’t really lead to a good ending. To really really simplify it. To get ending D and E in the subsequence play throughs you have to gather all the weapons in the game. What happen in ending E is, you will be given a chance to save Kaine, the lovable foul-mouthed hermaphrodite character you have been with. But in order for that to happen the MC has to be sacrificed and erased from the world, no one will be able to remember him. You can just not save her and that would result in ending D. To get ending E, you accept, and then every single save files you have will get erased. They show this by showing all your items and spells getting erased one by one. When that’s over the final ending cut screen plays. After that, if you attempt to start a new game with the same character name, it won’t let you. Btw, I mentioned earlier that while optional those side quests were tedious and often unrewarding didn’t I?

      Now let’s mention the hack and slash RPG and the prequel of Nier, Drakengard 1. To get the ending that will eventually result in the setting which Nier and eventually Automata took place, you have to fight a final boss that turns out to be a really hard rhythm game that has frustrated a lot of people. You can find it on YT (chapter 13 Verse 3. You could also try Drakengard 3

      What I’m trying to say is that, it has its own uniquenesses. Ones that might be a bit weird.
      The series got out of its obscurity with this title because it has Platinum developing it, which translated to good gameplay, something the series failed at on occasions.

    • Mike Mohamed

      It’s year of the Sony, deal with it. It’s not their fault they got all the good games this year.

      • Edonus

        All the games Ps4 has released this year have been one off, hacky hacky slash slash games. I look for more skill and wit in my games. I am actually more interested in PsVR than most of the games I have seen.

        • Mike Mohamed

          you would get fuckin raped by the first level of Nioh. Also Nier is the best narrative in any game released this decade.

          if sony isn’t awarded company of the year or some shit in 2017 there is no justice on earth.

          • Edonus

            Playstation games have always had great presentations, setting and characters, and if that was all I was looking for in a game they would be the best……. But I like gampeplay, strategy, technique, learning curves, skills, community and competition. Sony is terrible in that department.

          • Mike Mohamed

            yeah i know right dark souls is a fucking kid’s game compared to sophisticated complex strategic games like mario and zelda right? my 10 year old niece ripped through bloodborne but then she got stuck on the first dungeon boss of zelda because she couldn’t figure out that you’re supposed to shoot an arrow at the big red glowing thing.

            people like you are the reason why absolutely no one takes nintendo or their fans seriously anymore. you wouldn’t know a learning curve if it fucked you up the ass.

          • Edonus

            I have not said anything about Nintendo…. I dont even know what you are talking about.

          • Unknowingreaper

            Why are you fighting with this guy? All the things he listed are in nioh which he said was over inflated. Maybe if he played the games instead of assume he’d know that.

    • Unknowingreaper

      Ok you didn’t play nioh. It’s one of the best games I’ve played one PS4 next to bloodborne. I’ve never seen a game play like neir automata. Bullet hell mixed with baynonetta action with an open world. Horizon I don’t know haven’t played it

  • Mithan

    This like Dark Souls style combat? Or button masher like God of War?

    • Note5

      This game has lots of gaming mechanics rolled into one: an open world action hack and slash rpg 2D & 3D shooter

  • Niello

    Seriously, every reviews on Nier: Automata fail if they don’t mention replaying the game on new game + and play through 9S and A2 routes. It basically boils down to “you have only played 30% of the game” and fail to grasp the real depth of the story narrative.

    • Mike Mohamed

      Yeah seriously, looking through the reviews so far seems every single one misses that the story continues once you beat it. At first I was disappointed the game ended, then I was shocked to see the game had barely even begun.

      • There’s also the point of not spoiling the rest of the game. Unless you like being spoiled and being told about stuff that you’re supposed to find out on your own.

  • Mike Mohamed

    Once again the reviewer has literally played 1/3 of the game and thinks they beat it. Bravo Taro.

  • Sean Filkins

    The original NieR got around 6/10 on average. I think it deserved at least 9/10.
    Automata
    is getting 9 to 10 out of 10 across the board. I bet, imo, it’ll
    deserve a 7 to 8 out of 10. Simply due to the fact that NONE of the main
    characters are appealing. It’s a cast of gratuitous cliche characters
    with some weird things to say. The charm of the original was a delicate
    balance: Kaine was the most gratuitous, but her personality was so
    infectious that it didn’t bother me at all. 2B is just pure cliche
    trash.

    • Niello

      A2 is almost like Kaine though.

      • Sean Filkins

        Minus Kaine’s personality and likeablity I’m guessing.

    • Vincent Chin

      playing automata is a harrowing experience. on the first play through it seems kinda shallow but on 2nd playthrough, it’s depth starts to show from looking at the story from another characters point of view. the writing is still good and the some of the side quest are very memorable. like the original nier you have to play through a few endings before starting to see the true beauty of the game.

      • Sean Filkins

        But why did Taro make all of the characters generic in design? The original game had a lot of unique characters. Does this game have one unique looking character?

        • Niello

          They are androids. If they are all unique that wouldn’t fit in with the setting at all. Plus they have blindfold for plot reason, so you’re not going to see their eyes most of the time, and they are also generally forbid to show their emotion. One more thing, A2 is supposed to be a prototype that would eventually become B2 (not spoiler by the way you can get this info from the stage play), so it makes sense even more for them to look similar.

          • Sean Filkins

            They could look similar without being generic. 2B looks like a rehashed maid from every anime on earth. It’s really disappointing. I’ll still play the heck out of it. But it feels like Taro got lazy in this one. Heck, even Drakengard 3 had horrible characters.

          • Unknowingreaper

            Like I said fan service you can’t argue how popular she’s become

          • Sean Filkins

            I guess the positive side is that this silly character might popularize a great developer. Which is awesome…but it’s too bad that I’ll have to wait another 5 years for a proper sequel to the NieR I know. Although, a sequel to the Westernized NieR will probably never happen. I think that’s why 2B is so jarring. She’s the complete opposite of NieR in the West.

    • Unknowingreaper

      I’m going to guess for the audience honestly. He probably wanted a game that appeal to more people and 2b’s ass has made this game more popular then neir 1 ever was and it isn’t even out in the states. Probably toned it down for that reason