I should have played Nier: Automata already.
My MacBook tried about six times to correct Nier to “Tier” just now and that’s driving me nuts.
In fact, I should also have played the original Nier. And the Drakengard games that preceded it. Yoko Taro, the man behind the design for all these games, is often refered to as a genius in the serious game-appreciating community.
And yet, I’ve never played more than a few hours of his games, combined.
That trend of self-deprivation continues with the Nier: Automata demo. I downloaded the thing on my PS4 like 5 weeks ago, weeks and weeks after it had come out…and then I didn’t really touch it till this morning.
Guys, this shit is great.
Of course, I felt the same way about the original Nier at one point in my life and never finished it…but we’re not here to talk about that.
Nier: Automata is a newish sort of open-world Action RPG shooter/melee hybrid multi camera view thing with multiple endings.
It has a world design and story from mad genius Yoko Taro, and was developed by Platinum, the masters of the modern Japanese action game.
In the demo you play as 2B. She’s a lady robot with a blindfold over her face who carries two big swords and has a little floating robot buddy with a machine gun. You can shoot the enemies with the machine gun and hit them with swords at the same time. The combat is good. It’s Bayonetta good.
Also, sometimes it becomes a side-scroller.
Other times, it’s a top-down twin stick style shooter.
In between all the madness of the robot-fighting action…that’s right, the things you’re fighting are also robots…there are some crazy story sequences. These are rendered in real-time (EDIT: I’ve just found out some of them are videos? Okay sure!), and they’re kind of great and nuts, in a Metal Gear sort of way.
Look. I don’t have time to play this right now, universe. I’m still trying to get through Mass Effect Andromeda, and I’m still trying to finish a ridiculous backlog, and I also have a life with things in it. But I’m going to buy a copy of this thing before the day is out because I need it in my life.
Are the graphics the best ever? No. Is the gameplay the most mind-blowing combat I’ve ever played in my life? No. Are the individual elements particularly new or innovative? Not really. Is the music really awesome? Yes. Yes the music is really awesome.
It’s the non-stop willingness to just go nuts and play around with gaming’s form that has me interested here. The game changes camera perspectives and gameplay styles more often than that great weird Splatterhouse reboot.
I bet that’s the first time you’ve ever seen someone refer positively to the Splatterhouse reboot.
In spite of switching back and forth between different types of gameplay, it feels cohesive and solid and very confident in what it’s doing. Many critics I respect have said that Nier: Automata is one of their favorite games of the year, and now I know why. I know it’s hard to take a chance on something strange, but I’d implore you to at least watch some video of this, and take solace in the fact that fun weird stuff is still happening at established developers and not just in the indie space.
I also applaud Yoko Taro for making so many games over the years set in the same universe. There’s an alternate dimension where I got way into these games instead of the Metal Gear franchise.