Written and directed by self-proclaimed weirdo Yoko Taro, NieR is one of the most brilliant, mind-boggling JRPGs to launch in the past generation.
A sequel to the Drakengard series, taking place over 1000 years after the fifth ending of the original Drakengard, NieR is a standalone experience with numerous strings connecting itself to Taro’s previous work—including fan-translated novels, other games and even stage plays.
Set after the annihilation of modern civilization, you play as Nier. The protagonist changed drastically between regions, NieR RepliCant for the East and NieR Gestalt for the West. The former featured a young adult protagonist whereas the latter followed what the internet would later dub, ͞Dad Nier . Other changes took place as well, such as slightly altering the year the game is set, as well as changing the relationship with other main character Yonah with young Nier taking on the role of her brother and ͞Dad Nier͟ obviously taking the role of Yonah’s father.
Controlled through a third-person perspective—although certain areas of the game move into top down or 2D sidescroller view. Combat consists of hack-and-slash and shoot-em-up elements all wrapped up in a lovely JRPG coating.
The majority of enemies—known as Shades—switch between close range melee combat and long range projectiles. Going toe-to-toe with enemies requires you to utilize all of your combat skills such as intercepting enemy projectiles with your own to get in close and dish out a variety of combos.
The biggest appeal of NieR is its world. The land is ruled by the Shades and while humanity is mostly used to this by now, the deadliness of these foes are never understated by the population of the game’s numerous villages. You’ll spend hours travelling through the wide, varied environments of post-apocalyptic-turned-fantasy-Earth completing the many side quests, hunt down high-class enemies, fish and complete the fantastic main story.
Yoko Taro’s selling point of all his work has always been the story. While Drakengard’s gameplay is certainly very, very rough around the edges, as well as on the sides and in the middle, it was held up by a fantastic story. NieR does the same, although its combat is improved drastically to the point where it not only is a great story but also a fantastic video game.
But if NieR is so good why is it so unknown? NieR didn’t sell well. Terrible marketing on the part of Square Enix, confusion over different versions and generally mixed reviews from a lot of critics – an infamous one being written after just four hours of play where the majority of the review complained about a short minute-long section about fishing.
NieR is a good game with a fantastic world and some great characters. It’s been nearly seven years since NieR first released and soon it will be followed by a new PS4/PC game, NieR: Automata with combat created by Platinum Games. Check out the free demo now on PS4 and get sucked into the world of NieR. I dare you.