Well oops, I didn’t know there was a spoiler Nier:Automata thread. @rhamorim told me about this one.
Here’s what I wrote in the other one:
[quote]Right. I just finished the game! Here are my thought on Nier: Automata. Extreme spoilers ahead!
First of all, I’m writing this as a Drakengard/Nier “veteran”. All the games in this loosely-defined series have always been mediocre, but had original ideas to make them stand out. I was hesitant about this one, but I was won over and decided to try it because of the cool menus, the chip system the Platinum-designed combat… and by 2B’s sexy (but creepy) figure. Turns out Nier: Automata is still mediocre. Its biggest sin is that it contains ALL the clever tricks the original Nier had up its sleeve and very few new ones, and they’re used even more poorly this time, on top of not being so clever anymore.
First, let’s give the game its dues. The grayish computer menu interface is really neat. The combat is much improved… but it’s still not that great. The music is quite good (the gibberish singing is back and still annoying in a kind of catchy way). Speaking of the music, one of the game’s tricks is that it changes the music playing after finishing a side-quest. A small detail, but it adds extra payoff to finishing a quest, enhancing the “good” or “bad” result. Someone should take a note of this. The quality of the writing is adequate, I guess although oddly enough most of the better writing is in the side-quests (Romeos and the Juliets is pretty funny). Just like the first Nier, you often see events from the perspective of someone else (including your enemies), which is always interesting.
More about the combat. It feels like Bayonetta with shooting combined to melee attacks, plus a dodge move that rewards good timing. It all still feels sloppy though, so much that I can scarcely believe the game proposes you complete it with every hit being lethal (“Very Hard”). There’s so much going on at once with a partner fighting, shockwaves, bullets and the camera sometimes deciding to use clever cinematic angles that it’s hard to dodge even with the generous timing. Anyway, “Normal” is a cakewalk and “Hard” mode often kills you in one hit anyway, so that’s crappy balancing for you. There’s about a dozen enemies repeated ad nauseam too. The combat is nowhere near as tight as he recent Furi. If you want the same style done right, try that.
Weapons are dull to boot, which is a shame since it’s one of the series’ highlights. They have no unique spell like Drakengard, so the difference between each of them is really thin. The grim weapon “super short stories” are back (yay!), but they’re disappointing (boo!). To top it all off, weapon upgrades and story segments are not handed out by using them… it’s another damn crafting system that asks you to collect 11 walrus tibias.
It’s an open world game, but the world is very small and quite ugly. It’s more of an open neighborhood, really. Fast travel works well, so that’s a plus I guess.
So how about the story? That’s often the part that stands out. It seems that now every JRPG has to be about answering the great question of life the universe and everything. This one is no different. I’m quite tired of that, honestly. JRPG directors are no more wise about the meaning of life than the average college undergraduate, perhaps even less so. In the same vein, the names of philosophers have been inserted willy-nilly into the game without any relevance. I am not impressed.
As is usual for the series, the tone is unrelentingly grim. However, the game does try to make you care for the characters, unlike, say, the original Drakengard. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I especially don’t know how I feel about building a slide for children, only to have them commit suicide 5 minutes later. I guess the shock value is worth something? On the other hand, disaster is inevitably meted out on everything and everyone and always for vague reasons, so it’s hard to really care. The game is about a proxy war fought by robots between human and aliens, but there’s absolutely no payoff concerning either the humans and the aliens. Everyone’s already long dead and that’s it. It’s fittingly bleak, but not very interesting. Honestly, the game is light on plot and would be quite short if it wasn’t for the (re-used) multiple ending scheme and the sub-quest padding.
A note about “that trick”. Nier’s ultimate trick up its sleeve, the complete save file wipe, is back, but it is used for something completely irrelevant: you sacrifice your save file to give a boost to another player, out there somewhere, fighting against the final boss… the actual credits as a bullet hell shmup level. You shoot the names of people against a black screen. It’s not even integrated in the story properly, but the game pretends it’s has great emotional resonance. Man, I thought the context in which the save wipe was brought in the first Nier was dumb, but this makes it seem so much smarter by comparison.
How odd, you can buy trophies outright with in-game money and the amount is kind of trivial compared to the hours of grinding you would need to do it “legit”. I went ahead and did it. I mean why not? Where else can I do this?
The game is probably more of a revelation to the relatively JRPG-starved PC, but now that I’ve already played a bunch of Drakengards and the original Nier, the novelty feels a bit thin. Honestly, Nier: Automata is a lot worse than I thought.
2 machine lifeforms out of 5
P.S.: Jesus, what’s up with that DLC? 19 CAD$ for recycled arena fights and costumes?[/quote]