Content of the article: "A Nier Automata Review (Spoiler Title in Body)"
I'm talking endings A through E here, mostly about the story. So steer spoiler clear!
I liked playing Nier: Automata. I really did. I had fun exploring a saturated world against a contrasting pair of grey scale androids. I enjoyed mixing and matching weapons, unplugging my OS chip, listening to the soundtrack change after turning in a quest, and watching the world evolve and grow dim throughout the main quests. Nier: Automata is a good game. But it isn't a great one.
The largest issue with Nier is the storytelling. The actual story and themes are excellent. Machines and Androids creators are both dead, and each group has to figure out how to live on their own. When life suddenly looses meaning, how can we cope? This is an excellent stage for an emotional story. Despair, tragedy, hope, it's all there, ripe for the picking.
But Nier's story is executed awfully. The cutscenes are ugly, the actions that lead to the development are largely waypoint prompted and do not feel natural or logical, and important climactic moments are uninspired, sometimes confusing, and frequently immediately forgotten. 9S goes absolutely nihilist crazy after the God Box, but immediately I can turn in a quest where he expresses empathy to a resistance member about his fallen comrades. The final straw, the great revelation that YorHa was always supposed to fall is straight up illogical. The humans are long gone, who designed this system?
I don't believe a story has to make perfect logical sense to be good, but major reveals should be cathartic, not confusing. Twists should make me go "Oh Snap!" not "wait what?" Beats and sequences should flow into each other, Nier's simply do not.
So 9S' story is bad, which is unfortunate because the entire game revolves around him. He drives the plot start to finish, but his character is flat and his motivations uninteresting. 2B exists as an entity for 9S to grieve for, A2 exists as an object he can fixate his corrupted grief on. And he's boring. 2B and A2 have their own arcs, but 2Bs revolves directly around repeatedly killing 9S, and A2's serves as a foil.
The thing that sucks, the reason I'm writing this is that Nier should have been good. I should have cried watching 9S destroy himself. I should have found A2's ending C sacrifice admirable and touching. All the right pieces are in all the right places, but somehow it just doesn't fit together well.
The pod's develop their own will by interfacing together about our heroes because it turns out sentience is the friends we made along the way. I like this fundamentally, on our own we are nothing, but we can come together to create something more and that's where humanity is found. Again, the execution is poor. The Pods are Navi squared, obnoxious to the max. Having the second thematic climax delivered by Proposal: simply fails to impact the way it should.
I like pretty much everything about this game fundamentally. The themes, the colors, the individual character arcs, the machines, the androids, even the style of the story telling, including the parts that are just reading text. However, almost none of it comes together well, and certainly none of it carries the emotional impact it so desperately needs.
I do want to talk about something I thought was fantastic about this game: 2B's skirt.
No, I'm serious. The way her character model contrasts with the muted reds and browns, the saturated greens, the colorful NPCs creates a spectacular effect. Moving around feels really good, the characters flow acrobatically, and her outfit supports the feel. I had fun playing Nier: Automata, but a narrative driven game has to have a good narrative, and this game just doesn't.
- YSB Nier Automata (PS4/Xbox One/PC)
- The game finally came out on Steam. Just finished it. Amazing game! 8/10 Here is what I didn’t like about it.
- Review NieR: Automata – A VERY mixed bag (full spoilers)
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