Nier is one of the most underrated games of the previous console generation, and sure, it took a while, we finally have a sequel. Dubbed Nier: Automata, it has been developed by Platinum Games this time around ? yes, the same Platinum Games that masterpieces like Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Bayonetta ? under the direction of Yoko Taro ? the same Yoko Taro whose insanity brought us the original Nier and even classics like Drakengard. Is it worth your money? Do you need to have played the original Nier to really enjoy Automata? Let?s take a look.
The meat and bones of Nier: Automata lie in the single player campaign. The story is an emotional roller coaster that manages to tug at your heart strings and make you laugh with ease. The overall plot revolves around humanity?s struggles for survival after an alien invasion. The protagonist ? 2B ? is an android created by humans to help fight the war against the aliens. The plot thickens, however, as you discover that the aliens? own robot army has grown some form of sentience, and a couple of other androids have more sinister plans in mind.
The campaign will have you explore a nice variety of levels, starting off with a post-apocalyptic city where nature has started to reclaim man-made structures, much in the vein of the recent Horizon: Zero Dawn. Soon enough the levels progress into an open desert, and even a carnival, with an entire fight sequence taking place on a rollercoaster in the form of a side-scrolling shoot ?em up!
To say Nier: Automata?s gameplay is insane would be a huge understatement. It starts off like a vertical shoot ?em up in the vein of Space Invaders, has you fighting some stuff in a twin-stick shooter kind of way a la Geometry Wars, and finally, when the game lets you touch the ground, it turns into a hack-and-slash which borrows liberally from bullet hell games. No, seriously, even in hack-and-slash mode, you?re going to be spending a lot of time dodging screen-filling attacks while trying to get closer to your enemies to destroy them.
The level design compliments this insanity quite well, with the on-foot segments especially seamlessly turning into a side-scroller as you fight your way through hordes of robots. The shoot ?em up sections offer plenty of freedom of movement to avoid the enemies? attacks. And let?s not forget the ever-awesome boar drifting making a return from the original Nier.
Nier: Automata has a few things wrong with it, especially with its thick, beefy backstory. Sure, you won?t really need to play Nier to be able to enjoy Automata, but being familiar with the original certainly helps. The story itself is also relatively slow to start, and offers little in the way of directions except for some side quests you?re supposed to do at the start. On the visuals side, plenty of obvious sacrifices have been made for the silky smooth frame rate of 60 fps. Human NPCs especially are barely detailed apart from their clothes. I myself found this trade off to be quite reasonable, and you won?t ever find me complaining as long as the game offers 60 fps.
4. So, should you buy it?
Nier: Automata is pretty much unlike anything you might have played. It incorporates elements of hack-and-slash action games, bullet hell games, side-scrollers, and jRPGs. The whole chaotic mess comes together to create a beautiful action game with an engrossing ? if slow ? story that really succeeds in making you feel things. Sure, it might not be the best looking game out there, but with gameplay this fun and varied, who really cares? Nier: Automata is imaginative, frantic, sad and hilarious throughout its story beats.