REVIEW: NieR: Automata reminds us why, after decades, we still play video games

Since I hadn’t played the first one, I was able to approach Nier: Automata with a fresh pair of eyes. Automata tries to make a stance under the cluster of AAA titles recently released. Can Automata compete with the wash-rinse-and-repeat open world phenomenon Horizon Zero Dawn? Yes. And can it surpass it? Hell yeah. If you played the demo and hoped it lived up, well I’m here to tell you it does and more.

Automata stands out because it is aware of itself. It works to keep the player entertained while creating a collection of small experiences that will have you nodding to the developers.

The game intrigued me the moment I hit “Start Game” because a text box appeared: “This game does not support auto save. Play the game to find out how to save.” It’s a bit unnecessary to directly state and could be considered pretentious, but I allowed it to create curiosity. I personally have never been a fan of auto-save, despite it’s clear convenience, so I was excited to see what Automata would do. Saving a game must be done manually by fixing the Access Points throughout the map that are being attacked by robots. The Access Points can also be used to read messages from story characters. Automata recognizes that traveling to these very specific spots would become tedious and waste time so the Access Points actually emit a “save radius” that you can see on the mini-map. Instead of having to go back directly to the Access Point players must simply be in the vicinity of one so a game can be saved.

From beginning to end, Nier manages to balance multiple genres without ruining one or the other. It dances between an arcade shooter, side scrolling platformer, isometric hack-and-slash, and third person rpg. Nier brings the opportunity to unite fans of Space Invaders, Resogun, Journey, Metroid, Dark Souls, and more. The first thing that all players notice about a game are the graphics. Will Nier make you stare in amazement? Of course, not. But Nier isn’t trying to sell you the power of the PS4, it’s trying to sell you a well thought-out gaming experience.

Protagonist 2B and her handy side-kick 9S travel the world together and each are accompanied with Pods (flying robot sidekicks). I love the Pods because it allows me to lock-in and constantly attack the enemy while simultaneously adding light attacks, strong attacks, and evading. 2B can be improved with momentary Enhancements, such as “Defense Up for 15 seconds,” changing or upgrading weaponry, finding new Pods with different abilities, or customizing her build with special Plug-In Chips. Be careful though because if you die then you will need to recover your Plug-In Chips from where you fell otherwise it will all be lost once if you die again.

The primary downside in design I have to point out is the map. The map attempts to simulate a 3D topographic map but the design is so minimal it’s not clear whether a certain section can be traveled to or through. There were times where I insisted the map indicated a clear passage but then I was welcome with a large blockade.

If you decide to connect to the network it gives you the option to come across other players who have fallen. You’re provided with three options: Pray, Retrieve, and Repair. Praying for the player provides that person benefits, retrieve gives you items, and repair allows the android to fight alongside you for a limited time. You can only have one android fight with you at a time, so during a boss fight it’s best to activate Repair throughout the duration of the battle.

There is so much to discuss but I want players, especially those questioning to purchase it, to give the game a chance and let it unfold naturally. Nier is a game that makes you think it’s a game and story you have done a thousand times over, unless you’re harshly reminded you haven’t. Unlike certain games that drag before it jaw-dropping moment is revealed, Nier surprises you very early. This game is a bolt of revitalization that the gaming world has needed in the last six months. If you have felt unsatisfied with the titles being released, I’m confident that this game will reminded you why video games became a huge part of your life. 















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