Game Review: NieR: Automata
There is a lot to say about this game, but when thinking about how to say it and the words to use, I am at a loss. All that I am comfortable with saying is that NieR: Automata is a fantastic piece of work that is visually stunning and conceptually remarkable. There were a few dislikes with the game's mechanics, but nothing more out of the ordinary of a typical problem with most games. Without further ado, let's get into the review.
The story of NieR: Automata is vastly different than what most people would consider 'normal'.; however, with the rise in popularity of android and machines in the media with the shows, "Humans", and "Westworld", this game adds its own take on androids. Human civilization has encountered alien lifeforms and there was war immediately. The humans were in a losing battle and thus came up with the project, 'Project: YoRHa', a plan to create human-like androids to fight the aliens. The aliens had taken over the planet earth and thus the humans created a colony on the moon. As the player, you take control of various androids, 2B, 9S, A2 and Pascal throughout the story to fight in the forever long war between the Androids and the machines the aliens created to fight their battles. You were built to fight the machines, and you will die by fighting the machines. As the story progresses, two god-like machines, Adam and Eve, are created and they must be destroyed in order to stop the machines from destroying all that is left of humanity. With this in mind, the player sets out to find and destroy Adam and Eve and rescue what is left of human civilization while learning about human emotions and the cycling of Android thoughts.
NieR: Automata plays like a free-roam hack and slash game, but in reality, it is like all games combined. Starting off, the player is flying down to earth to fight a 'goliath'-level machine in their flying unit. During this game sequence, the player is given an offset birds-eye perspective and is told to shoot. All the player can do in this sequence is move around while always pointing forward and shooting wherever the character is pointing (which is forward). The sequence plays much like that of old arcade games such as Space Invaders, but with more intricately choreographed enemies. After this sequence, the flight unit switches to a transformer-like machine and the game changes from Space-Invader like to Asteroid like.
There are also times in the game in which the player will be on a 2.5-dimension adventure with enemies coming from above, left and right. Also, while playing as certain playable characters, the player will have to play another type of game-within-a-game as a little pointer shooting black marbles, pointers and cylinders in order to gain control, destroy or open certain objects or enemies. With the multitude of different play-styles within the game, any player will be kept on their toes to make sure that they adjust to each type quickly and efficiently in order to continue on.
There is a 'god-like' mode within the game as well where the game will 'play' for the player if the player wills it. All the player must do, is turn on easy mode then add the auto chips to the player's chipset and turn the chips on with L2 or LT depending on the system. This will have the player play as a badass android, always shooting and hitting the enemy while dodging most if not all attacks from the enemy. What more could anyone want?
The game looks phenomenal. It is entirely stunning and the colors fit the mood. As the game is a fluffy, happy, the world around looks colorful and when the story starts to get dreary, the color seems to leave the world as though it never existed in the first place. There are a few different areas in the game that everyone will go through. The desert, the amusement park, and the broken town are among the few that are visually stunning. Walking through the park, watching the fireworks and having the robots dance around you is like a perfect date come true!
The robots that the player combats against are bland but fit the world perfectly. They stand out in the broken town, blend with the foliage enriched forest, and dress as jesters while in the amusement park. They have their own emotions and feelings towards the way the world looks and during conversations with the friendlier robots, they point out how beautiful the world looks.
The Bad Parts
Even with the amazing visuals and the very intricate story line, there are some small nuisances within the game that impaired portions of gameplay. With the different gameplay types such as the Space Invader/Asteroid like gameplay, the 2.5D adventure and the open world adventure, the switch between each was smooth, but there are some gameplay mechanics that would've been nice if they were to overlap. For instance, the 2.5D and the Space Invader/Asteroid sections of the game, the camera is static and focuses on your player. It would've been better if the camera could've been free as it is with the open world sections because then it could've helped with times that I had no clue where I was going. Riding a rollercoaster is not 2.5 dimensions.
Upon looking at the map, I was confused. It seems to be a topographical map that tries to show the depth of the overlying areas but instead confuses the player with the lack of a depth perception for quest objects and entrances to new locations. It is good to look at the map for a general understanding of the world, but to try to find a finely detailed point, the map is useless and would hinder the player in doing so.
The Feel of the Android
I never felt like a powerful badass android unless I played on the god-like mode in which the game plays for me. I have a companion machine that tells me where to go and can shoot and use special abilities, but with the way the controller fits comfortably in my hand, trying to melee attack with my character while also using the shooting ability, dodging, and special abilities is nearly impossible without extra flanges. By putting the game on easy mode, I lost the challenge of the enemies. They had become weaker and more predictable in their attack patterns. I wanted more of a challenge, without having to get carpal tunnel.
There are 26 different endings in the game and each one could be a viable option to play the game. The endings A - E seem to be the more precise and understandable endings but each ending on their own is standalone. They cannot blend together, except endings A and B because they kinda end the same way. Each ending could be the true ending, but without knowing what the true ending is, I don't know the actual story of the game. Could ending C and D be 'what-if' scenarios or are they truly the ending. Is 9S deserting his post to understand the human life the true ending? Are the androids competent enough to uninstall their own OS chips to commit suicide that that could be the true ending? I will never know until they make a second one, but depending on the ending a sequel cannot be made. I wanted a more clear cut story of which one is true and which ones are false.
This is a must play game! Without a doubt, this game had me feeling emotions that weren't really felt before. This game has made me want to have an android as a partner due to the conversations between A2 and B2's Pod. I want to sit down across from these androids to have conversations with them like in Ex Machina. This game is amazing and it has points throughout that may be a nuisance, but overall this game will make any player think in ways that were thought impossible.