REVIEW: ‘Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139…’ Is Beautiful Sadness (XSX)

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Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139...

Content Warning: Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… deals with themes of abuse

Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… is developed by Toylogic and published by Square Enix. The 2010 cult classic returns with updated visuals, gameplay mechanics, and new content.

Roughly 1,400 years into the future, the human race is dying. Beset by a terrible plague known as the Black Scrawl and under constant fear of attacks by vicious monsters known as Shades, humanity’s numbers dwindle. In this world lives a young man named Nier. Along with his little sister Yonah, the two try their best to survive in this harsh world. But when Yonah comes down with the Black Scrawl, Nier must set out to find a way to save the most important person in his world.

Like many who have been eagerly awaiting this game’s release I first discovered the Nier series through the 2017 sequel Nier Automata. Having finally gotten my hands on what Creative Director Yoko Taro calls a “version update” to the original game in the series, I can say that this game is everything I expected it to be. Both for the good, as well as the bad. Let’s start by taking a look at the part of the game that presents the most mixed results: gameplay.

The primary gameplay element of Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… is that of a stylish third-person view action/RPG. Most combat encounters throughout the game require the player to hack and slash their way through enemies utilizing a never-ending combination of light, and heavy attacks delivered through three different weapon types and supplemented by a bevy of magical options. Controlling Nier throughout these battles is fluid and fun. And when I say a bevy of magic, I mean it.

Over the course of the story, players will unlock a versatile arsenal of magic spells with which to dispatch the countless threats they will face. From the summoning of giant magic fists to pound enemies to rows of spears that protrude from the ground to impale enemies on, Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… gives the player a ton of fun options to utilize. Not only does the player have a ton of options for what to cast, the developers at Toylogic even got creative with how players can set up their magical arsenal.

By default, the two triggers on the controller are assigned to the block and dodge actions, while the bumpers are available for magic spells. However, the player is free to mix and match these four buttons however they choose. For example: while Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139…  features a parry system that rewards precision blocking, since I can never land the timing on parrying anyways I dropped the block button from my control scheme to have a third spell on stand by. This allowed me to lean into my strengths in a way most games don’t offer.

Along with the versatility of how I implement my actions, the game also offers numerous ways to adjust how my weapons and magic spells function through the use of words.

Words are enhancements that enemies randomly drop throughout the games. Different words provide different boosts to different things. Everything from damage augments, experience buffs, and even adding effects like poison and paralyze are possibilities. And with each upgrade having multiple tiers to find I was discovering useful power-ups long into the game.

Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… also features a weapon upgrade system. Though to be honest, this feature of the game is fairly superfluous due to the nature of acquiring rare materials to upgrade the better weapons. With no clear indicator of where to find these items, and many appearing as random drops on enemies, the grind to find these materials doesn’t seem worth it. I only upgraded one weapon fairly early on and never felt underpowered.

While how one dispatches their enemies offers lots of options, the threats posed by the enemies are not so varied. Except for the bosses, the vast majority of the game’s enemies are little more than punching bags. The only time any real threat is offered by them is if a larger enough number manages to swarm you, overwhelming your defenses.

While the bulk of Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… gameplay hinges on stylish action-driven battles as the player navigates a small open world and several dungeons, it is by far not the only gameplay players will experience during their playthroughs. Everything from puzzle rooms, to on-rail shooting segments and even text-based sequences, are used to break up the many combat encounters in the game.

While the bulk of these moments are implemented well, there are a few that struggle hard. Worst is a puzzle room that requires the player to cross an obstacle-laden area without utilizing many of the game’s mechanics. Chief among these is the ability to run. But the game doesn’t lock this option out but rather forces the player to restart the room if they try to run. This means that if the player presses too hard on the thumbstick for even a moment they are booted back to the start. I have never fully appreciated just how unsteady my thumbs are till now.

While Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… gameplay suffers from a few stumbles, its thematic elements do not. And this thematic strength primarily hinges on the amazing strength of its cast. And one cannot discuss this game’s superlative cast without beginning with the main character and his little sister.

Nier, Yonah, and their struggles through the hard world they find themselves in are the foundation of this narrative. While Nier only wants to protect his little sister, this quality of Nier’s character is also his greatest fault as he oftentimes shuts out all else in his single-minded pursuit that comes to border on obsession. This is best illustrated through the feelings of Yonah herself.

As someone who is chronically ill, Yonah comes to struggle with seeing herself as anything beyond a burden for her older brother. As she watches from her bed, Nier insists on running himself ragged to provide every possible chance for her. Even when she tries to tell him she’d rather he just stay by her side than chase after a long-shot hope he doesn’t hear her. This quickly escalates to the point where Yonah finds herself wondering if all she is is a source of pain for her brother and that perhaps he would be better off without her.

Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139...

While the siblings provide the basis for Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… character-driven story, the companions Nier meets during his journey end up being the most memorable elements of this game. Whether it is the condescending heckling of Grimoire Weiss, or the ardent kindness of Emil, every major player in Nier’s story delivers a memorable personality. But none of them land with so resounding an impact as Kaine. Perhaps one of the most memorable personalities I’ve ever experienced in any form of media.

When Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… first introduces the player to Kaine she comes across as little more than a scantily clad, profanity spewing badass whose sole reason for being is to shock and mortify Grimoire Weiss. As the player progresses through the game however the real character is revealed, as well as the history that brought her to this place in life. Her story touches on a plethora of themes, and never fails to deliver each with poignancy and power that is rarely seen in storytelling.

While the original game was released over a decade ago the folks over at Toylogic do a great job of bringing this game closer to modern visual standards. The animation is smooth, and the main characters look solid in every cut scene and close-up. However, some of their surroundings, as well as the side characters remind the player of the game’s age. And while these elements are not up to the normal standards, they are never so bad as to pull the player out of the moment.

Now we come to the point where I have to take a moment to praise this game’s phenomenal soundtrack. Legendary composer Keiichi Okabe delivers a masterpiece of musical brilliance. While tracks such as Kaine(Salvation) and Song of the Ancients are stand-out pieces, they are simply the best of an extraordinary bunch. Every track serves to amplify the moment in Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… it accompanies.

Lastly, I need to take a moment and give players a heads up about Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139…’s larger game structure, and how it affects seeing everything the game has to offer.

As many are no doubt aware, to see the entire game Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… requires players to beat the game several times with a single save file. While the game informs players after each victory that there is more to see, what it doesn’t mention is some additional conditions attached with unlocking several of the later endings. While I won’t say here what they are, I will say some are tied to a particular portion of the game. Once that part of the game is past, the player will not have the opportunity to go back. So if you have plans to see the game in its entirety I suggest doing some online research so you don’t end up 25hrs in to learn you need to start over again.

When all is said and done, Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… brings a cult classic to a new generation of gamers. If you love deep emotional, character-driven stories that will make you both laugh and cry, even if some of the gameplay suffers a bit, this game is a must-play.

Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… is available now on PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, and PC.

 

Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139...
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

When all is said and done, Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… brings a cult classic to a new generation of gamers. If you love deep emotional, character-driven stories that will make you both laugh and cry, even if some of the gameplay suffers a bit, this game is a must-play.