Whether it be in anime, or video games it seems I have penchant for strong female leads. I especially love being able to play a female character in RPG games. (Mass Effect was the best experience for me in that regard). NieR:Automata had caught my attention due to the cover art and the main character, I’d always been interested in it so when I saw the demo become available on PS4 I decided to give it a try it to see if it’d interest me enough for me to go out and buy myself a copy.
I’m not familiar with the history of NieR; so I’ve had to look it up. NieR:Automata is a sequel to the PS3 Nier, which is then a spin-off of another game called, Drakengard. Nier branches off from one of the endings of Drakengard; while NieR:Automata follows suit and takes place after one of multiple endings found in Nier. Automata still carries over some elements from Drakengard in terms of mechanics but not in storyline, from what I’ve gathered.
NieR:Automata’s story is as follow:
Humanity has been driven from the Earth by mechanical beings from another world. In a final effort to take back the planet, the human resistance sends a force of android soldiers to destroy the invaders. Now, a war between machines and androids rages on… A war that could soon unveil a long-forgotten truth of the world. – Gamestop
In the distant future, an extra-terrestrial force has unleashed a ruthless army known as the “machine lifeforms” on Earth, driving mankind into exile on the moon. Android 2B, one of the latest infantry models of the newly formed organization called “YoRHa,” is plunged into a bitter war to reclaim the planet. – Platinum Games
Let’s start with graphics. Square Enix just really never disappoints when it comes to art style, character design, and overall graphics. I really enjoyed the visuals they’ve created, not just as eye candy but also in gameplay. At first it started off as your typical RPG game, you run around along a path or an open world. But then at some points the view shifts to the classic linear scrolling screen found in the original Nintendo games (i.e. Contra). It also shifts to a zoomed out overhead view that looks down at the top of your players head and her enemies; this was the most jarring to me just because it was so zoomed out, I couldn’t really tell what the heck I was doing.
I also got a bit confused with how the map worked. I found myself turned around at some points, thinking ‘hmm this seems familiar’ when in fact I had looped back somehow and was back where I started. I almost ended up at the starting point because I was so confused. Wayfinding was not my strong suit in this demo.
Our protagonist 2B is a beautiful android that is super badass with dual swords. I’m a sucker for swordplay in games! Running around and slicing up robots gave me that nostalgic feeling of playing PS3’s Heavenly Sword. Heavenly Sword brings me a lot of good memories because that’s the first game I played that had a female lead of color. I don’t count Lara Croft in Tomb Raider because I couldn’t identify with her; and I could never get into Tomb Raider like my Dad did. I want to say the mechanics of operating 2B was very similar to Nariko (Heavenly Sword). The combat is action based so if you tend to be a button masher like myself (half the time) then you’ll probably really enjoy the gameplay of Automata. I also accidentally found this ability that’s very similar to Noctis’ ability to leave a projected image of himself as he teleports away, like a decoy.
However sometimes, the demo felt super guided, like I didn’t really have to control her to much or fight too much, mostly evade. I know that there’s an “auto-mode” for beginners, but I had picked normal mode; so I’m not sure. I like the little familiar that we get; that robot comes in handy when you feel overwhelmed by opponents. Just aim and shoot while you have 2B fight the others with her swords.
Overall, I like NieR:Automata. I like the feel of the mechanics; the feel of the environment and the design and fluidity of the fighting and the transitions to and from the scroll-mode. The wayfinding problem isn’t something so major that it would deter me from buying the game. I mean Square Enix just knows how to empty my pockets, let’s be real. The games I get from them always blow my mind aesthetics wise; and I have no problem with that. I can’t say much to the story since the Demo was so short; but with that ending. I want to know, is that part of the game? If so where does it happen, the beginning or the end?
From what I’ve read, NieR:Automata is getting a lot of buzz and positive reviews which helps me with my decision to go for it and invest in the game. BUT, with Mass Effect: Andromeda releasing next week,I have to finish paying off my pre-order; Automata will have to take a backseat for now. But when I do get back to NieR: Automata I hope to give a full review! Most of my game reviews will be late (no surprise); since I’m the type to really take my time with it.