NieR Replicant Ver.1.22474487139 Review (PS4)
Updated: Jun 1, 2021
Genre: Action Adventure RPG
Release Date: April 23,2021
Platforms: Playstation 4,Xbox One, Windows
*Game provided to me by Square-Enix
''NieR, far, wherever you are''
NieR Replicant is an action adventure RPG developed by ToyLogic and published by Square-Enix. Being a semi remake/remaster of the 2010 game, NieR, Square-Enix and ToyLogic attempts to bring this title into eyes of the current generation after the success of NieR Automata. But with all the improvements made over the original, does Replicant offer something that is a must play for people that took the journey through Automata? Only one way to find out, so lets go!
As a plague known as the black scrawl begins to spread over the world, monsters known as Shades begin to pile up in numbers, putting all human inhabitants at risk of death or injury. One day, your sister Yonah's cough gradually starts getting worse and it is found out that she also has the black scrawl within her body, but there is no cure for it, death appears to be imminent. However, NieR, the older brother of Yonah, learns of a possible way to get a cure for the scrawl, but it wont be an easy task to complete. Together with a magical tome known as Grimoire Weiss, NieR must venture off on a journey to find and search for the Sealed Verses, which might just be the key to saving Yonah's life and maybe, all of humanity itself.
As already stated, NieR Replicant is a remake/remaster of the 2010 game, NieR. However its not as clear cut and dry as that. Now for disclaimer sake right off the bat I need to clarify that I'm not the resident known it all when it comes to NieR history or its lore, as before this, my only real experience, like a lot of others, was with NieR Automata. But the basic run down is summed up like this. The original game we received in the U.S. dealt with an older NieR who instead of being Yonah's brother, was now her father, whereas the japanese version, NieR Replicant, was with a younger version of NieR, now her brother instead of her father. Got that? good. So as you've already guessed, this is the japanese version we are getting to experience for the first time as we play as Yonah's brother NieR as we attempt to ''save'' the world and solve the mystery of the beings known as Shades and learn more about the Sealed Verses and the key they hold to curing the black scrawl plague.
As you start your game you're greeted to the opening narrative set up for you that will start a domino effect and ultimately leads you to taking on your long and dangerous journey. Your sister Yonah has gotten very ill and soon it is learned and confirmed that she is infected with the black scrawl, a disease that slowly eats away at your body, and inevitably leads to your death. One evening as she's not feeling well, and you as the good big brother you are, try to keep her spirits high by telling her the story of the Lunar Tears flowers that if found and sold, could not only make you both rich, but also it would bring in enough money to be able to buy medicine to be able to cure her. But maybe that wasn't such as a good idea, as she took her brothers story to heart and went in search for it herself, all the way to the forsaken and dangerous place known as the Lost Shrine. Once coming to the realization that is where Yonah was heading after her recent disappearance, NieR rushes to the Lost Shrine only to discover her unconscious body behind a magic barrier, surrounded by those damn evil pesky shades. As you destroy the magic barrier to get to your sister, a magic book known as Grimoire Weiss wakes up from his slumber and tells you to stop beating him up. The hell kid?. After telling you that you can't win without his help, NieR finally decides to take the books power and use it save his sister. Let me get off thought for a second. Looking at NieR in his attire as a kid, he looks like Alphinaud from Final Fantasy 14 to me, but maybe that's just me. Anyways, sorry, moving on.
So you're probably wondering ''Ok that's a really cool backstory and all, but didn't you say this was a game play section of the review? not more story, you're losing it, girl''. Hey now, be nice, mentioning that part of the story is key as Grimoire Weiss plays a vital role to come when it comes to the combat department. Once Grimoire Weiss is in your party, this opens up the combat more than it previously was. Before acquiring the book, your combat was squarely a hack and slash affair alternating between light and heavy attacks on your opponents. But now with the power of Weiss at your disposal, you gain access to a plethora of magic abilities known as Sealed Verses. These Verses allow you to use different magic abilities, such as Dark Blast, a magic that lets you fire projectiles like a machine gun and when held down, will act like homing missiles and attack multiple foes. Whereas abilities like Dark Lance will allow you to use magical spikes to throw into an opponent and when held, depending on your magic bar, can harness up to 8 different spikes at once to unleash on your enemy. It feels great slamming enemies back with force with this one, definitely was one of my go to's during my playthrough.
The combat in NieR Replicant may be a bit different than you were used to if you've played the original NieR or even if you've played NieR Automata, this is because the combat system from the original NieR game was updated to try to be similar to the combat that people are used to from Automata, albeit, its not perfectly emulated, but its an improvement over the originals clunky feel, so that's a win there. The combat in NieR Replicant to me is surprisingly deep for what it is and offers up room for you as the player to force the type of character and playthrough that you yourself want to be and not what the developers want you to be. Player choice is key. Throughout your playthrough you will be able to switch to light and heavy weapons using your Dpad to switch from one handed swords, two handed heavy swords and even spears, this allows you to put together light and heavy combos on the fly by mixing the power of your two handed swords to uppercut your opponent in the air, followed by switching to a lighter weapon to continue your combination, before finishing off your opponent using one of your dark arts sealed verses such as Dark Hand to pummel your enemy with a melee magical spell. Now that sounds pretty sweet now doesn't it? It sure does, but that's not where the combat in this game ends, nope, it gets even more in depth by finding ''Words'' hidden throughout the world. When equipped to your weapons or magical abilities themselves, these ''Words'' will grant you boosts to not only item drop rate, but also high experience points, abilities costing less MP consumption, stronger attacks and many other items. While they don't make a HUGE difference at the end of the day, they do offer just enough variation to be able to make their presence known during battle.
As you become more accustomed to your combat and set out into the world itself, you'll notice that the main area you find yourself in, the open area plains section is stitched together by different areas, think of it like Ocarina Of Time's Hyrule Field with interconnecting sections of the world and you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about. Each area connected to the main hub area houses a different environment in which the story will take place in from when brother NieR is a kid and then later on in a time skip, becomes an adult, but we'll get in that in a little bit. The environments you come across that range from the Lost Shrine, Forest Of Myth, Kingdom Of Facade and an old Seaside town all have distinct designs and come to life in their own various ways. Forest Of Myth for instance is dark and eerie and has a mystique about it that makes you uncomfortable due to the way the towns people interact with you or rather... not interact with you. Seaside town offers you a beautiful outlook over a beach and lighthouse with a variety of funny characters like the old light house lady who constantly berates you and is just all around grouch, and then a loud and obnoxious husband and wife who are constantly at each others throat because he had the audacity to do something so unforgiveable and so hideous that he can not possible be forgiven. What did he do exactly? are you sure you want to know? well... he had the gall to eat her apples. I know right? he's scum of the earth. My point in mentioning these is simple, when you're not in combat, you're enthralled by the characters that inhabit this world even outside the main cast. What's left of this dying world, seems alive and its amazing to walk around and see what everyone has to say.
As your journey gets trickier and more dangerous, you develop relationships with other companions as well, these characters being Kaine, a foul mouth half human half shade woman who is a complete bad ass and doesn't take anyone's crap, friend or foe. She was an absolute riot to listen to my entire playthrough because she's a no nonsense type of person who gets straight to the point in everything she does. Then we have her exact opposite, a young boy named Emil. Emil is the polar opposite of Kaine in everyway, for every time she's cold, calculated and sadistic, Emil is kind, caring and empathetic and wants nothing more than to make people happy, save his friends and for everyone to get along. You can NOT play this game and tell me you do not love this little guy, human form or ''monster'' face form. He just gets more endearing and amazing as the story unfolds. Most people I noticed so far with this game point out the combat as being focal point of why they enjoyed the game and changes that were made to it from the original, but while to me, ya it is pretty good, I still say the crown jewel here is the characters and their development. The story of NieR Replicant is deep and explorative of not only our own humanity but of how we perceive each other. NieR is a basic orphan who only wants to take care of his sister, Kaine is an outcast and self hermit, Emil is energetic and kind, Weiss is sophisticated and an ancient tome full of knowledge. Each of these characters at their core have different goals, different world views, different hardships and you feel each and every one of their conflicts during this game. You may not agree with all of them but they are all relatable to some extent and when that character goes through something that makes them angry, you get angry, when they're sad or feel an emotion, you to in turn feel this way because of how well written and performed these characters are and the way they're fleshed out. One of my absolute favorite and emotional moments in the game was what I refer to as the ''father and son Kamehameha moment'' in which NieR and Emil team up for one emotional power struggle against an enemy shade, and wow, between the voice acting, the set up before the scene and mixed in with the music, It was absolutely phenomenal.
Ok I'll stop, I could go on about the characters for another hour, but I won't because I have some other things I need to get to that involve more of the game play aspects, the world itself, and some things I did not like during my time with this game that made a few aspects of it flow a little different than I expected or wanted. But let's get back to the game play aspect of the game just for a moment, shall we? As mentioned previously, this game is very hack and slashy due to its heavy and light attack use and its player freedom of choosing how to make your own combo attacks. However, this game also branches off into RPG territory, bullet hell, twin stick shooter and even side scroller. The game transitions buttery smooth to each element. One minute you're hacking and slashing your way through barrages of enemies down a linear path, but literally two scenes later, it becomes a top down bullet hell twin stick shooter where you must use the right stick to aim your Dark Blast energy around to shoot with. But one of my favorite moments of these transitions for a quick example would be when you go to Seafront later in the game after the time skip to when NieR becomes an adult. The ferryman who ate all his wife's apples in a previous quest you did has come up missing and now you must search an old shipwrecked ship. Immediately entering it turns your game into a side scrolling horror adventure game in which you must slow move your way through a dark, damp and creepy ship that seems haunted. The atmosphere is unsettling and creepy and your only salvation of light is a little lantern that barely lights your way. It gets super creepy, but ultimately culminates in a gigantic kaiju level of Shade fight. Holy crap! Is that you Biolante?. That's the first thing that popped into my head.
But wait? how did I get access to that awesome segment? well that one was through the main story, but you can find similar content as you push through the game if you happen to take on the variety of side quests at your disposal. But be warned, not all of these are winners. A lot of the time you will end up with a fetch quest that makes you go from point A to point B then back to Point A again and gives you a relatively useless reward for wasting your time. But they're still pretty key to do if you want to get all the endings of the game, or to get materials and money needed to upgrade all your weapons. Yes, you heard me right, every single weapon is upgradeable in the game as long as you farm or do quests related to getting the material you need to pay the blacksmith to do it for you. Its time consuming, but if you plan on doing multiple playthroughs, It's mandatory. I do not feel a lot of people will be playing this for multiple playthroughs though in all honesty due to multiple factors involved such as lack of fast travel function, constant need for backtracking and the use of game padding to stretch the game on longer than it needs to be. That's right, there is no fast travel. If you go all the way to Facade, which is a good 10 min or more walk or run, you will have to go all the way back to your main hub village on foot. This can take you like an hour for one quest if you aren't fast enough and I can see it turning people off big time, but thankfully in the main plains area, you'll be able to tame a boar to make your journey A LOT faster, so the trek isn't TOO bad. But wait ''hold it!'' you shout to me, padding? what do you mean?. Oh boy. Here we ago. I've sang the game mostly praises but I got to be fair and balanced. There are quite a few things that bogged the game down for me that either stopped me from having fun or kind of put me to sleep at certain sections of the game. I got my sword and shield ready to anticipate the oncoming attacks from NieR fans, so here we go, 3, 2,1. Skadoosh.
While there are many aspects of this game that range from amazing to literal perfection, there are also segments of this game that just didn't mesh well with me. The first half of this game is absolutely perfect, its so damn good. From the world building, variety of characters, their personality and traits, the way the story is structured with quests, its all done relatively well. But the second half of the game after NieR becomes an adult is where to me everything starts going wrong in both narrative and pacing. The story becomes more about bait and switch quests than it does about meaningful story elements. For example, Popola will ask you to to go to specific region of the game to look for a fragment you need in order to find the whereabouts of the villain known as Shadowlord, but upon meeting her requirements and making your way back to her, she tells you ''sorry, bro not yet, come back later''. This involves you having to set out on another 1-2 hour journey before coming back to her again, hearing the same thing and going back out AGAIN. In what could be wrapped up in an hour or two is stretched to 3-4 hours. If you know me and have read some previous reviews, you will know that I absolutely can not stand game padding. Its the bane of my existence. Also bogged down is the pacing. In the first half the game you were also constantly moving to find the answer to what you were seeking, but as an adult its more so, go here, stop gap, go there, stop gap. It goes 1-100 mph then suddenly stops you dead in your tracks by having you go back to the Forest Of Myth and going through a 20-30min segment of just text on a black screen to make you solve a riddle. It serves a purpose and has a meaning, but its put in the wrong spot of the game and I almost nearly fell asleep, I'm not even joking.
The second time in the manor, where you initially met Emil in the first half of the game, is also a very boring tread. Going with Emil to find a cure for Kaine, you have to venture through the manor to its basement, but its literally over an hour of going from room to room, maze to maze, puzzle to puzzle of killing the same bad guys over and over in very tedious twin stick fashion. Its one of the more lack of engaging segments of the entire game and it was a chore to play. Besides those sections of the game I felt were boring, I also had a bit of issue with the emotional bait and switching going on too. This game goes a little to anime heavy with the ''OMG THEY DIED.. oh wait nvm they are ok'' moments. So many times were you emotionally invested into a characters sacrifice or demise, such as being impaled or sliced and its a total OMG NO! moment, only for it to be completely ruined for them to be fine moments later and then literally an hour later, another scene plays out in a similar way where that character once again ''dies'' but is fine again moments later. I swear in the second half of this story, Kaine became the Krillin of NieR Replicant and it rubbed me the wrong way. It robs the player of any emotional investment they might have had. I still loved the characters, but It was just an over used trope. I was wondering if I was watching an episode of Naruto or something.
When you're all done with the game and are happy with yourself, too bad, you aren't done yet. You still have New Game Plus and the other 4 endings of the game you missed your first playthrough. In new game plus, obviously it caries over all your stats and gear from your first playthrough but now you have a chance at completing all side quests, weapon upgrades, finding all weapons and so forth to be able to unlock all 5 endings, A,B,C,D, and the final true ending of E. I am still working through this myself and I plan to do it, no question, but this ensures this games longevity with replayability and mastery of the combat system due to having to play the game at least three or four times bare minimum, give it a go, even if its just to listen to the absolutely stunning soundtrack again. This thing is pure bliss!
At the end of the day NieR Replicant is an amazing game. Its a remaster/remake that was done right. Sure its not perfect, with the padding issue, pacing issues, bait and switch fetch quests, some boring elements of the game that breaks immersion and overused trope of fake out deaths. But it still completely excels at world and lore building, character development that makes you care for each and every person involved, creative and imaginative boss fights that leave you in absolute awe, blissful soundtrack that has to be one of the best vocal OST's ive heard in years, and a great combat system that allows the player to play how we want, so that no two players will ever play the same. All of great elements that make NieR Replicant as great as it is, genuinely outweigh the negatives here, but that's just in my opinion. If you've played NieR Automata and want more background to how that all started, then I implore you to give this game a go. Hell, even if you've never played Automata, this could be your stepping stone to play first and then getting into it that way, you pick!. So enough ramble, you can probably guess what I'm trying to say by now. So with that all said, my verdict is pretty clear, GameNChick says BUY NOW.