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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.”
IT’S A MUST-HAVE GAME AND CAN SECURE A SPOT IN YOUR COLLECTION.
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