Title: Nier: Replicant ver.1.22474487139...
Release Date: April 23, 2021
Reviewed On: PS4
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Action RPG
In 2010, the original Nier was released for PS3 and Xbox 360. Given that the game initially starred a teenage male, pressure from Square Enix’s American branch led to the creation of a grizzled dad character that would take the lead role in the western version of the game. This wasn’t a bad thing by any means, as practically everyone who played or watched the game loved the grizzled papa. The overall reception was middling, but the title was a cult hit. Similar to other titles Yoko Taro has directed.
Nier: Replicant ver.1.22474487139…, developed by Toylogic and published by Square Enix, sees the original story hit modern consoles 11 years after its initial release, which finally gives the west a chance to experience the teenage protagonist’s adventure.
1.22474487139… according to Yoko Taro means nothing, but it’s also the square root of 1.5. So it might just be a nod to his calling the game a “version upgrade.” Who can say? Anyway, from this point on, I’m just going to say Nier Replicant and refer to the original as just the original, to alleviate any possible confusion.
Nier Replicant stars a teenage boy named Nier about 1500 years after what looks like the end of the world. He lives in a small village and cares for his younger sister Yonah. She’s become afflicted with the black scrawl, a magical illness that is unfortunately terminal. That’s not going to stop our hero, as he desperately hunts for any way he can to find a cure.
After investigating an ancient shrine, he stumbles upon a magic book named Grimoire Weiss, whose very name, according to him at least, “sends shivers down the spine of any kingdom who hears it.” But first, he’ll need to get his magic back, which is the root of his power. Further, according to the”song of the ancients,” doing so will give him the power to save the world. And so begins Nier’s journey to find the sealed verses to get Weiss his power, all so Nier can save Yonah.
This isn’t all the main band, though, as they’ll rope in an intersex young woman with a penchant for killing, named Kaine, as well as a boy named Emil, whose eyes are cursed to turn the things he sees into stone. Their writing, the development, and exploration of these characters are fantastic. I love this group of outcasts, they are precious, and each interaction between them a joy to witness.
As you travel around the world, you’ll come across ghostly ethereal creatures called shades. They’re dangerous, and with few fighters in the village, you’ll need to dispatch them directly.
You can lock onto enemies and utilize six “action buttons” to take them down. Aside from a dodge and a guard, you’ve got light and heavy attacks, each with their own associated combos; these can be charged up for fancier hits and alternated at will. The remaining two buttons are for the sealed verses of your choosing, powerful magic spells, and you can even pick magic over dodge and guard if you so desire.
There are 8 sealed verses to unleash hell with, the pods in Nier Automata function similarly to them if you’ve played that. Magic can be charged while Nier moves, some slowing downtime so you can set up your optimal movements, make fancy dodges, combos and perform perfect strikes.
Despite the button layouts being seemingly identical to the original game, combat has been completely rebuilt, with the help of several staff members from Nier Automata to ensure that the combat system is just as good as its sequel’s, if not better.
It’s fast, fluid, and full of depth and strategy, especially on the highest difficulty. Just slapping enemies silly isn’t going to cut it. You’ll need to hit weak points, interrupt enemy movements or break down their guards to maximize your damage output. Sidestepping, dash strikes, combining your magic with swords, with spears and greatswords adding to your arsenal later, everything has a use for abuse.
If you are concerned about the complexity, then feel free to switch the difficulty to Easy, and there’s even an auto-battle if you want to just not deal with it. This is a very character-driven, story-heavy game with a unique tone that I think many players inexperienced with this style of action game would be wanting to pick up. Normal is a good mix of challenge and ease, though.
The world of the original Nier was criticized for flavorless and lifeless environments, so the remake visuals are overhauled. The overworld is as aesthetically pleasing as you can make wide-open plains and deserts be. There are many level designs for variety, from sidescrolling platformer dungeons, industrial mazes, or even a town compiled almost entirely out of text adventures even without the overhaul.
The towns are more vibrant in the remake and have their brighter colors emphasized, making them stand out. Additionally, in this remake, every single NPC is voiced, which helps the towns feel alive. The voiced dialogue really helps the quests feel more interesting, as while some are incredibly mood-setting gut punches, others serve little purpose outside of set pieces for the main characters to banter with each other about.
Only a few sidequests are mandatory for ending requirements, and they’re fairly obvious once you spot them and know the requirements. If you need some cash for new weapons, items, or upgrades and want to break from running and fighting, gardening and fishing are also available money-making options.
Nier: Replicant is referred to as a version upgrade because it recreates the entire game, not to provide players with an entirely new experience, like Final Fantasy VII Remake. Instead, this seems to provide players with the best possible experience of the original source.
The original cutscenes are largely identical, and they were already fantastic. They just have the benefit of now being backed by updated graphics, a re-recorded and extended soundtrack, and returning voice actors who have delivered incredible and fine-tuned performances 11 years after. The soundtrack is a marvel, full of emotional tracks with a somber undercurrent that makes them feel that much more impactful even when dramatic and tense. And the delivery of all sorts of lines destroyed me in the best possible way.
I should note that there’s even new content added in the form of new characters and sidequests. The short story, ‘The Little Mermaid’ from the Grimoire Nier supplementary book, based on cut content from the original, has been added to the game proper and expanded. There’s even a new ending added to round out the ones already there. It’s all Amazing.
Nier: Replicant ver.1.22474487139… is a beautiful experience and exactly how you should play this amazing game. Upon finishing, it’s easy to say that it is unequivocally one of the best games I have ever played. This story emotionally moves players with the help of its character-writing, intense action, and somber tone, making it easy to immerse yourself in their world.
Perhaps I did cry more than a few times, but were they tears of sadness or tears of joy? Good question. But you always feel a little sad when such a wonderful journey ends, don’t you?
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