NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139...

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Toylogic Inc.
Release Date: April 23, 2021


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PS4 Review - 'NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139...'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on April 22, 2021 @ 5:00 a.m. PDT

Prequel to NieR:Automata, the cult classic third-person action-RPG NieR Replicant is being rebuilt for modern platforms.

Buy Nier Replicant Ver.1.22474487139...

It's difficult to explain how distinct and unique Yoko Taro's games are. They focus on dark worlds with flawed protagonists and make strong use of the meta aspects of video games to draw emotional connections.

They're also just plain weird.

Nier is the direct sequel to what seemed like a joke ending in Drakengard, a somewhat obscure PS2 game that's best known as the first Square Enix title. No matter what, you know that a Yoko Taro game is at least worth a look. The original Nier was one of his best stories, dragged down only by some boring combat and tedium. Nier Replicant Ver.1.22474487139... — as far as I can tell, that basically translates to Nier 1.5 — is a polished-up remaster that fixes a number of the problems in the original. Just be prepared for some tedium.

Nier is set in a far postapocalyptic future. An event in the distant past has ruined humanity, and thousands of years later, the survivors live in small villages, where they're constantly harassed by monsters known as Shades. Players control Nier, a boy who takes on mercenary work to buy medicine for his sick sister, Yonah. An unexpected encounter brings him into contact with snarky Grimoire Weiss, who has immense magical powers and can cure Yonah. Naturally, Nier sets out with his companion to discover how to save his sister. Of course, not everything is quite as it seems, and Nier's adventure won't exactly be fun for anyone involved.

The biggest change for English-speaking audiences is that this version of Nier stars the younger variation of the protagonist who previously was exclusive to the Japanese release. Originally, I expected to be full-on team Dadnier once I played this version, but I came away pleasantly surprised. Brother Nier fits the story extremely well, arguably better than the dad version. A big part of this is that Nier is effectively a twisted JRPG, and brother Nier starting off as a protagonist who's powered by love and friendship helps the story beats hit more strongly than they did with Father Nier. Ultimately, I enjoyed this version of the character more, despite the uniqueness and general likeability of the old gruff version.

It helps that he bounces extremely well off the excellent Nier cast. Nier has a stronger cast than Nier Automata, and that goes a long way toward creating an absurdly enjoyable adventure. Between the foul-mouthed Kaine, the floated book version of Alan Rickman that is Grimoire Weiss, and the always likeable Emir, your main party is delightful to have around. Some new scenes in the "1.5" version of the game further flesh out the characters and give them more depth, but even without those scenes, Nier had one of the best casts in JRPG history.

For the most part, the story is unchanged from the original release. The Mother's Diary DLC from the original game is still here and unlocked once you finish the "A" ending of the game. Beyond that, there are some new scenes that flesh out the characters, but there are only a couple of major changes. The most significant change is that the previously novel-only side story, The Little Mermaid, is now a full quest line, including the coolest boss fight in the entire game. If there's anything more hidden, such as an "E" ending, I wasn't able to discover it, but there's still plenty of content for fans to explore. Knowing some of the esoteric secrets hidden in these games, I wouldn't be surprised if something else crops up.

The original version of Nier still had a fantastic cast, but it was held back by its dull and awkward gameplay. Nier Replicant Ver.1.22474487139..., on the other hand, has seen a complete reworking of the combat system. It now is more similar to Nier Automata than the original game. The result is a plus, though perhaps not a game changer. Combat is smoother, more fluid, and significantly faster. At the end of the day, it still remains button-mashy — and that's also a problem that Automata had. The new combat gives a fresh face to the existing game and make some of the tedium feel less tedious.

Nier is a game of tremendous creativity — and frustrating tedium. The core gameplay is an action-RPG hack-and-slash, but you rarely do the same thing for long. One stage might be a parody of Zelda where you follow certain rules during battle. Another is a pitch-perfect black-and-white homage to Resident Evil, right down to the inexplicable weirdly shaped keys. Rail shooters, isometric slashers, and even text adventures are all represented, and the title does an excellent job of making itself feel fresh toward the end, despite a rather simple combat system.

The tedium comes from a few things. Nier partially functions as a satire of RPGs, and that means tons of fetch quests and side-quests. Many of these are worth doing for the dialogue between the cast members, but a chunk of them involve tedious grinding for rare materials or lots of back-and-forth travel. Little has been done from the original version to make any of this less annoying. Some of the tedium is just the Nier experience, but it would've been nice to not have to grind for hours for a giant egg. You don't need to touch more than a small handful of side-quests to finish the game and get the final ending, but it sucks to lose out on some hilarious interactions with your crew.

The other source of tedium is in how Nier is structured. After you finish the game the first time, you can start over from a significant event at the halfway mark. This second playthrough shines new insight into the world of Nier and the truth about your enemies. Finish that, and there are third and fourth endings, but to get those, you have to play through the second half of the game again — this time with significantly fewer differences. The final "D" ending is 100% worth it, but a bit of the excitement is lost by forcing yourself through another two hours of mostly skipped cut scenes. I understand why the game is this way, and I feel that it mostly works thematically, but it isn't fun to beat down the same bosses while you're so over-leveled that you'll spend more time waiting for their phase trigger dialogue to finish than actually fighting them.

With that said, Nier is a genuinely charming game. It's difficult to express how interesting it is. In many ways, it stands above the excellent Nier: Automata by just being a fun experience, especially with the reworked combat. Even if you've already played Automata, it is worth going back to try the predecessor. Coming off a playthrough of Nier, I think it might even be the better of the two games! If you've never touched Automata, then Nier is the best place to start hopping on Yoko Taro's bizarre ride.

The remastered graphics for Nier Replicant Ver.1.22474487139... are quite good, for the most part. It's still bluntly a PS3-era game, but the updated graphics give it a nice polish. It only really shows during cut scenes, where characters' faces don't emote as much as they should. The voice work is excellent. Most of the original Nier cast returns to reprise their roles, and every single one knocks it out of the park. Liam O'Brian's Grimoire Weiss is a constant delight, and nobody can spew a string of utterly foul language like Laura Bailey. Likewise, the music is absolutely incredible. Much like Automata, the soundtrack is one of the best in gaming. There are some notable remixes, but by and large, it still sounds delightful.

Nier Replicant Ver.1.22474487139... is the best way to play a genuinely amazing game. The flaws of the original version have been smoothed out some more, and while it still struggles with tedium and grind, the bright spots stand out. Even if you're not traditionally into JRPGs, I can recommend Nier because its unique story and tremendous voicework make it stand out as an extremely well-told tale. Be prepared to curse the designer who decided that one of the most common items you need to upgrade weapons has what feels like a 1% drop rate.

Score: 8.5/10

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