Before we start, I feel it’s of utmost importance to do this game justice and convince you to play it yourself, so I’m going to refrain from making any jokes or puns.
Okay, serious face.
When I ask my friends if they’ve played NieR: Automata yet, they reply “What’s that?”, which would annoy any die-hard fan of a game – but not me, because now, I have the pleasure of introducing them to this underrated behemoth of game design and storytelling.
You play as 2B, a Gothic Lolita-styled combat android, accompanied by 9S, a more sensibly dressed recon specialist android, who assists you by using his ability to hack enemies and lower their defences. This allows you to charge in and make the final blow. What enemies, you ask? The game takes place in the year 11945, during the 14th Machine War, and Earth is now inhabited by mechanical alien lifeforms who drove humanity close to extinction. Your purpose is to vanquish these machines and reclaim Earth for humanity, the last of which fled to the moon long ago.
Being a combat model, you have an arsenal of melee weapons at your disposal, ranging from small and large swords to spears and combat bracers; each weapon type has its own unique move set. You also have a pod by your side at all times which enables you to engage enemies from a distance with its variety of ranged attack modes. You’ll use these weapons during enthralling, refined combat that’s enhanced by an absolutely breathtaking soundtrack.
Automata’s soundtrack not only heightens enjoyment during combat but also captures the essence of each environment and scenario perfectly. Most impressively, it changes and adapts to suit every situation. For instance, in one action sequence, the chanting of enemy robots morphs into a thrilling ensemble of haunting vocals and orchestral majesty. The soundtrack alone may be the best thing about NieR: Automata and I’d be surprised if it didn’t win every award for best soundtrack in 2017.
As for the gameplay, NieR: Automata constantly switches things up so you don’t get bored, but not so much so that the gameplay feels frantic and rushed. It smoothly transitions between top-down bullet hell to 2D side-scroller to 3D hack and slash. It even includes the occasional text adventure segment!
The game’s visionary, Yoko Taro, is responsible for the game’s frequent change of genre, due to his desire to “make a game from a different genre each time. He even went as far as to say that “if there are similarities between games (he’s) worked on thus far (he) considers it to be a form of failure”. After playing NieR: Automata for almost 60 hours and even acquiring the platinum trophy, I can say that he most certainly did not fail in the making of this game.
Automata constantly surpasses itself, leaving you both satisfied and excited for more. I honestly would have to force myself to stop playing because after a 7-hour gaming session I felt I had to finally have my breakfast!
Even though I could praise this game until the cows came home, admittedly, it isn’t perfect. Occasional drops in framerate in highly detailed areas can slightly hinder your experience. On top of that, you may encounter loading textures in new areas and lots and lots of invisible walls. This is merely nitpicking though, as they won’t make a negative impact on your overall enjoyment of the game.
You likely won’t find NieR: Automata on a “pre-owned” shelf as anyone who’s played it wouldn’t dare trade it in. Which means you’d better get your hands on a copy before they’re all gone! I could easily double the length of this review, explaining all the great aspects of it, but with every word I type, I’m keeping you from playing it. So that’s it – Automata is a truly amazing game worthy of your attention – I’d go as far to say that it’s NieRly a masterpiece. Damn it, I made a pun! Oh well, I guess it just wasn’t meant 2B.