This new release of Nier attempts to improve on the original 2010 – and while it's not the Automata, it's an amazing experience.
Square Enix has promoted this new version of the erroneous cult 2010 classic Nier as not quite a remake, but also more of a remaster. The argument is that the game contradicts the definition, hence the deliberate anticipation, mainly random title: NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… Because I really see everything the game has to offer, however, I think I'm pretty confident in correctly defining it This is a remaster – but a big one.
With that said, it's undoubtedly one of the better remasters of a game from that era that I've seen. But it is important to set expectations here. Those who have played Nier Automata and are hoping for a remake of the remake need to know that under the hood, this is still the original Nier – which while similar is a wildly different explosive game that successfully succeeds it.
I don't want to put history lessons into reviews, but it's almost a necessity here. The original Nier had two different releases; Gestalt and Replicant. Both told the same story, but with slightly different protagonists. Gestalt plays the player as a father trying to protect his daughter in a fierce, post-apocalyptic world, while Replicant uses the same set up but instead puts the player in the shoes of a teenage adult. brother desperate to protect his younger sister. Gestalt only exists because Square Enix’s North American branch requested a more aggressive, key figure for the West.
While there are new nods to the older lead ' Papa Nier ' in this game, this version is rather the Replicant version, the original. Square Enix says it makes it “formerly exclusive to Japan”, which is true but also a bit cheeky. Replicant is a similar story and game to the version of Gestalt released in the West, with a different protagonist. You will go to the same places and do the same things while on the same mission.
With that said, there are many new ones in this remaster version of Nier Replicant. Before we talk about the content, it’s important to talk about the overall look and feel of this remaster. The original Nier was released at the height of perhaps the most sleepy and brown period in video game history, and it was a game of its time.
The visual uplift of this title is not just about HD textures, then, but rather about re -evaluating the game world. The geometry is the same, but there seems to be no texture left untouched, no lighting not re-rigged. Places are popping up and there’s a sense they’ve lacked before. For the characters, Automata art leader Akihiko Yoshida was parachuted to define the meaning of their style, re-interpreting the originals to bring them more in line with Automata. That means new character models with a higher level of detail. In sight, this is a great remastering job.
Other changes are just common sense. There are already the right tutorials introduced at the right points of the game, which can be visited at any time in the menus. In fact, the presentation is cleaner across the board, making it easier to manage a previously frequent game.
The biggest improvement in presentation is in performance, however, which makes a world of difference. Although nothing else has been altered, the original Nier has been significantly elevated alone. It looks better and it no longer chugs along at a low frame rate, making it easier to fight, snappier, and more enjoyable.
In combat, staff from Automata helped to help them redefine it and make them feel a little more like that game – but still have a feel of its own, heavier, with each hit a bit more certainly in a way that feels both a gentle touch and completely satisfying. The truth is it’s a very different game-it’s not a Platinum level action game, but more of an adventure-like title like Zelda that happens to have hack-and-slash heavy combat. Some new additions are drawn straight from Automata, such as an automatic play mode for those unfamiliar with combat action and a proper parry and follow-up mechanism. In other ways the system has been tweaked so the action feels more enjoyable right away and fast that way PlatinumGames so nailed to Automata.
In structure, however, it is more of a pure adventure game. There is a world, several towns, and many dungeons playing out in a kind of battle that is heavy ' diet Zelda ' and fashion. The game is divided into two halves with a time skip in the middle, and that is used to justify your visit to most major locations twice, once in each half. In 2010 it may seem like a particularly strange reuse of content, but 11 years later backtracking in places you’ve seen hurts a bit. In other areas the skip is used more effectively, such as the development of the player’s character skills-they gain access to two more weapon types, and new in this version is the ability to properly and immediately to switch between them mid-battle.  The edge is removed with repeated visits to familiar dungeons on how unique each is. Junk Heap, an ancient robot factory, is more traditional with auto-locking doors that will free you up again after battle encounters, but still spice things up with shooter sequences and camera angles that sometimes return to a Zelda-like top-down perspective. Others take more unique forms. A ' dungeon ' acts as a text -based adventure at the player's choice. Another provides combat and traversal challenges, but each room locks in some of your abilities so you can figure out on your feet how to reach your goal. My favorite pulls the camera back to an isometric computer-RPG style. The fact that everyone is slightly different means that even on revisits, they remain quite engaging.
Moreover, the narrative is so powerful that the cutscenes, mid -battle banter and overall intrigue keep you energized through not just a single play -through, but multiple. Familiarity with repetitive locations makes your second, third, or fourth run faster in finding more story titbits-and passing the latter works.
That smooth walk was interrupted a little, but not essentially ruined, by some new content. The first slot machine is seamless in the story itself, taking place in about two -thirds of the game. It’s a story-driven drive through a creepy 2D side scrolling around with some puzzles. It ends with one of the biggest and most spectacular boss fights in the game-a battle that certainly feels inspired by Automata. Like most Nier Replicant, the story told here is straightforward at first, but additional contextual events added to your second and third play-through of the content reveal the dark reality of the events.
The second piece of content is almost impossible to talk about without going into spoilers, so we can't but say that it's a couple of hours of new stuff leading up to an additional ending that adds to the wider that slope of the Nier universe. I really enjoyed both pieces of added content, found that they were additive to Nier Replicant’s broader story and avoided the easy mistake of feeling the need to endlessly connect and echo the Automata, a much more successful game that catapulted the series into the limelight.
Part of what has made this space more natural, I think, is the dedication to remaking the elements of the game. In both English and Japanese the game script and voice acting were reviewed, with the original cast returning to open new performances of old and new identical content. The translation is great, balances respect for the quirks of the original with its mission to improve the game in general, and the voice performances in general are incredible. In this version, even the most minor NPCs are pronounced, which is a nice touch.
The structure of the Nier Replicant is such that it is meant to perform multiple times. In fact, to get a real understanding of the story, you’ll want to see the game credits roll five times-but because of the game structure that’s not necessarily technically five full story play-throughs. It seems like a chore, but Automata fans will know how brilliant Nier’s creative manager Yoko Taro is at making subsequent plays in her rewarding games. Because of the progress being made, matters are made easy by difficult enemies from the previous run being expelled in seconds as you work towards your third or fourth finish.
The version of many end concepts presented in Replicant is less complicated than Automata, but also in many ways I think it is more interesting as the moment the mystery emerges in front of your eyes, with silent revelations sometimes delivered only in subtitles that translated into unpleasant dialogue.
Like I said before, these staff will keep you going. You ' re drawn in and want to know as much as possible about each of them. Sometimes they are a bit silly. Sometimes they are sad at heart. The stand-out star remains Kaine, a fierce warrior usually dressed in pajamas. Her costume, which is subtly designed, remains one of the elements of the game that I dislike most. There is an MGS5 Quiet style of ' words and deeds ' that’s reason for her dressing the way she does, but for the most part I think it’s a wasteful reason. She will be a great staff however she is dressed.
Nier Replicant is ambitious, smart, and has an absolutely deadly story. Back in 2010, I gave the original game 6/10 as a look at its muddy visuals, poor performance, and a full backtracking. Two of these issues are comprehensively fixed in this comprehensive remaster. While the backtracking remains, it feels less painful this time around thanks to it’s part of a game with smooth performance that is ultimately more fun to actually play. The game has improved a lot as a result, and much of why the original quiet special can now shine brighter. It may not be perfect, but within this slightly flawed plot it beats the heart of an absolute masterpiece. Those who have fallen in love with Nier via Automata should approach it with the clear hope that it’s not the game-but if they do, they’ll find the loved one.
Tested version: PS4 (played on PS5). A copy of the game is provided by the publisher.
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