NieR:Automata Ver1.1a Episode 1 Review “or not to [B]e”

And so it begins. The NieR:Automata Ver1.1a anime announcement caught everyone off guard, and hype for it has been quite infectious ever since. Now, the first episode has finally been launched, and the project is looking pretty nice so far. So, as a relatively moderate fan of Taro’s work, NieR included, I decided it’d be fun to review each episode as they release.

Before beginning the review proper, though, I should note that due to being someone who has not watched any anime for years, these reviews will not be critical or professional like our site’s video game coverage. My assessments will solely originate from my personal feelings as a fan. Therefore, potential issues regarding presentation and the like will likely not be noticed by me.

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In all honesty, there isn’t too much to say about this first episode, “or not to [B]e,” because the vast majority of it is a straight adaption from NieR:Automata. However, the opening monologue and visuals do differ significantly. In-game, 2B states the following right before the mech gameplay initiates:

“Everything that lives is designed to end. We are perpetually trapped…in a never-ending spiral of life and death. Is this a curse? Or some kind of punishment? I often think about the god who blessed us with this cryptic puzzle…and wonder if I’ll ever have the chance to kill him.”

Contrastfully, in the anime, 2B states the following while carrying 9S as the world is being seemingly destroyed:

“How long will I keep fighting…within this blood-soaked vortex of the battlefield? How long will I keep protecting…within these infinite killings that will never end? How long will I keep believing… in this world filled with deception and fabrication? How long will I keep telling lies…while continually feeling despair at the bleak future?”

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The tone and specific subject matter do not match, as the latter is immensely more somber, compared to the former, which radiates aggression and cynicism. Both passages are questioningly existential yet tackle the broadness of it all entirely differently. It’s likely worth keeping these opening quotes in mind as we dive deeper into the anime since I’m confident the narrative events will diverge at some point.

Afterward, the rest of the episode plays exactly like the game’s introduction, with 2B crash landing from her mech and battling the Goliath-class weapon. Further, there are cuts to 9S’ perspective, likely implying that the anime will simultaneously adapt both 2B’s and 9’s routes from the game to avoid retreading identical ground.

If you’re unaware, NieR:Automata requires players to replay the first third or so of the game as 9S, with his hacking ability and branching off from 2B granting further insight and background into the lore and characters. But the storyline is the same up to where 2B’s route initially concludes.

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Following the gorgeous opening sequence, a brief scene shows a robot carrying a bucket of oil to one of his destroyed friends, obviously fruitlessly. This segment was actually playable in-game during 9S’ route, so it was neat to see it here for a bit. Then, 2B and 9S converse as the former navigates the factory, eventually finding the target they were assigned to eliminate. The dialogue throughout these sequences matches the game, and it’s all adapted faithfully well.

Everything from 9S’ hacking to the duo’s victory utilizing their Black Boxes was paced strongly. Finally, the episode concludes with 2B and 9S back at the base, with the latter’s memory of their efforts having been erased. The tragic sacrificial expectations of the Android lifeforms are put on full blast here. And based on 2B’s veiled reactions coupled with her opening monologue, she’s not too happy about this status quo.

I enjoyed this debut episode, though as someone who’s played the game, the closeness of the adaptation wasn’t all that thrilling to see unfold. I hope the later episodes take far more creative liberties and go balls to the wall with it. Other than that, the aerial mech battling in the episode’s first half dragged on a tad too long for my liking.

Regarding a rating, I’d say somewhere between a 7.5 and 8 out of 10 fits my feelings well. Actually, maybe an 8. There were plenty of shots of 2B’s posterior that I appreciated.

I should also note the Puppet Play that occurred at the very end of the episode, comprising a comedic skit with 2B and 9S as they introduce the types of androids present in their organization, YoRHa. I’m looking forward to seeing more of these endearing segments.

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NieR:Automata The End of YoRHa Edition is now available for Nintendo Switch worldwide.

The game has a physical release with a reversible cover, and it is not a Cloud version. It includes all existing DLC and new NieR Replicant & Re[in]carnation costumes.

Check out our review.

NieR:Automata was initially released in 2017 on PlayStation 4 and PC, with an Xbox One release in 2018. The game follows characters named 2B and 9S, who are agents of Yorha, an organization tasked with various combative and information-gathering missions. This entry became highly popularized for its storytelling and characters in a fusion of action, exploration, and shmup elements.

NieR:Automata is currently available on PlayStation 4, Xbox, Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.


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Orpheus Joshua

Random gamer equally confused by the mainstream and the unusual. Fan of JRPGs, Action, Platformers, Rhythm, and Adventure titles.