Shadow’s Note: Aff wrote this for me some time back, and then shortly afterward, we got buried in being busy. I found this on my desktop and decided to go ahead and post it.
So I haven’t written anything in a while (injury, lack of free time), and Shadow suggested I review a game I blew some of that free time on.
It’s extremely rare that I buy a game for single-player content. Truth be told, that wasn’t exactly why I acquired it – NieR: Automata was added to my Steam account because the box art character looked interesting… and by interesting I mean she looked very hot.
The goal was simple; get a really silly achievement on my Steam account, and then move on. I wasn’t expecting it to have a lot of play value beyond that. I went into it with very low expectations:
- It’s a console port. Almost every game ported from console suffers from awkward control schemes when trying to use a Keyboard & Mouse.
It’s a single-player RPG. I could never get into Skyrim, wasn’t a real fan of Final Fantasy, and the closest thing I’ve played to such was Sonic Adventure on the Sega Dreamcast… and that wasn’t exactly my favourite game on the console.
So, what did I find?
I found a game so rife with content that to simply tell you about almost any of it would ruin it for you. The story from start to finish is something so polished that the few flaws you encounter from its console roots are almost immediately forgiven once you pass the prologue.
NieR: Automata tells the story of three androids; 2B, 9S, and A2. They’re on a mission to save the world from Machine Lifeforms. That’s about as far into it as I can go without ruining the whole thing. Even the smallest story elements fit together into this huge picture – the organisation that commands them, the way they fight, and what they think. This was something I wasn’t expecting from a game about Androids where emotions are prohibited (but apparently present). Most attempts at portraying them are rather awful, but finally Data from Star Trek would find some kinship here.
Combat is fast and fluid. The attack and defense style of the characters really exploits the fact that they aren’t Human to an extraordinarily satisfying degree.
The art style of the world is phenomenal. While the graphics themselves are not that impressive by todays standards (it came from a console, so what do we expect) the quality of craftsmanship that went into blending the music, ambient sounds, and art together into a fantastically immersive world is likely unmatched.
My first load of the game where I intended to spend a few minutes doing something silly ended up in a multiple-hour run that ended only when I happened to get a message on my phone – I checked it and noticed that it had somehow become 0400. I never quite understood the ‘time flies’ expression before, I certainly do now.
Trying to describe how this game is fantastic without spoiling it is so completely impossible my ultimate solution was to gift it to Shadow, so that she too can experience it – then we can talk about it before I explode.
This is the single greatest gaming experience I have ever had. Nothing else compares. None of the early console games I played, none of the online multiplayer games – nothing.
From the start to the finish I was fixed to my chair. The keyboard, mouse, and background of my room faded into invisibility for my mind as I played; no movie, book, or game has ever captured my attention so completely and lingered for long after I completed every aspect of the game.
Have you ever watched a great television series with a fantastic storyline, or read a series of books and finally reached the end of a completed story? Did you want more even though you know that’s unlikely? And then were you saddened when you realise there isn’t anything further? That’s how I am right now.
NieR: Automata is another work of Yoko Taro. A game developer so completely insane that he wears a moon mask whenever he is being interviewed or photographed. Or uses sock puppets: https://www.polygon.com/2014/5/20/5734400/drakengard-3-beauty-violence-trailer
Yes, he’s bonkers – but after seeing some of what is rattling around in that head of his, I hope he’s not done.
Go play it. And whatever you do, avoid spoilers. Don’t look it up. Don’t get a walthrough. Don’t read the synopsis. Don’t view guides. Just go play it.
Shadow’s comments: This game was ridiculously absorbing, and had some of the best English voice acting I’ve heard. I normally prefer to play with Japanese voices turned on, but this time, I didn’t even notice the difference at all, given the emotion put in by the actors into the voices.
Yoko Taro has another game I’d love to be able to play, but apparently it’s a phone game available only in Japan: SINoALICE