Release Date: February 26th, 2019 (Playstation 4)
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Platinum Games
ESRB: Mature (Partial Nudity, Blood, Strong Language, Violence)
In early 2017, Square Enix partnered with Platinum Games to release Nier: Automata, the follow-up to the cult classic Nier. The result was a stunning title that combines gameplay reminiscent of Bayonetta with the storytelling of JRPG’s that we’ve all come to know and love, like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. We recently got our hands on the Playstation 4 version of Nier: Automata Game of the YorHa Edition, which released February of this year and is packed full of extra DLC that wasn’t on the original release. For this review, I will be going over details about the game for newcomers and explaining what extra content is included for the people who have already played the original release. For the glory of mankind!
For those who may not know, Nier is a spinoff of the Drakengard series. But while Drakengard was about humans and dragons in a medieval fantasy setting, Nier: Automata features androids and robots on a post-apocalyptic version of Earth. The player controls two such androids, a female and a male with the designations 2B and 9S, respectively. Thousands of years have passed since alien lifeforms attacked Earth and forced humanity to flee to the Moon, where the survivors built androids to fight the machine lifeforms that the aliens were using. As part of YorHa, an elite squad of androids charged with protecting what remains of humanity, 2B and 9S venture to Earth from their headquarters in space to eliminate some powerful machine lifeforms that were detected and to clear a path for their fellow YorHa members. When their respective squads are destroyed, 2B and 9S team up to continue their mission on the ruined surface of Earth.
Nier: Automata features gameplay similar to Bayonetta mixed with elements of Japanese shoot ‘em up games like Ikaruga. During story elements where the player character is in a flight suit and flying over the ocean to fight massive robot life-forms, the game feels like a shoot ‘em up in the sense that the player has to dodge hundreds of projectiles on the screen will firing back at his or her attackers. With that said, the bulk of the game is spent on the ground, controlling the characters directly. Each of the characters can wield a variety of melee weapons, including katanas, halberds, and fist weapons. Accompanying the characters are small, flying robots known as “Pods” who support them by launching ranged attacks against the various robots they encounter. Most of the game’s combat involves cutting through waves of robot life-forms and unique “boss” robots, although 9S offers a special way to fight using his hacking ability, which also resembles a shoot ‘em up game but in a computer chip setting. Mastering the various combat mechanics is key to getting all of Nier: Automata’s 26 “endings.”
The graphics for this game are pretty much what one would expect on a current gen console. What I mean to say is: they are gorgeous! The various landscapes of the game include a ruined city overrun with plants and wildlife growing amongst the buildings, a vast desert sparsely populated with crumbling structures, a still-functioning amusement park full of friendly robots, and a lush forest with a hidden temple at its center. The attention to detail in each of these zones is astounding and left me with a sense of wonderment every time I had to traverse them. To complement the amazing visual effects, the game’s soundtrack is nothing short of perfect. Each song fits its respective zone in such a way that I felt fully immersed in the world of Nier: Automata. And the ending credits? Don’t even get me started. You’ll have to beat the game yourself to experience that one!
As I stated earlier, the Game of the YorHa Edition comes with all the DLC that was made available for the original release. In addition to a dynamic theme and some avatars for the Playstation 4, this version also includes some skins and accessories for characters in the game. To round out the bonus content, three new arenas become accessible to players who have the DLC pack installed. These arenas provide plenty of action that get progressively more difficult as players achieve higher ranks. Some of the rewards for completing the arenas include new costumes and hair dye for the characters. While battles in the arenas feature some of the most challenging fights against robots that the game has to offer, one of the arenas actually culminates in a battle against the CEO’s of both Square-Enix and PlatinumGames! Even though most of the DLC rewards are purely cosmetic, they do offer welcome challenges and Easter eggs that add to the fun and charm of the game.
Alright, I’ll go ahead and say it: This was my first time playing a game in the Nier series. No, I haven’t been living under a rock. Yes, I do love other franchises by Square-Enix. Don’t ask me why I had never played this game before because I just don’t know. But what I do know is that at $39.99, Nier: Automata Game of the YorHa Edition is a must have for veterans of the series and newcomers alike. The game is filled with combat, side-quests, tears, laughter, joy, and tragedy, and yet through all of that, beating the game leaves one with a sense of fulfillment and completion. If you haven’t already played it, GO BUY THIS GAME! (Justin Singh, Game Reviewer)
Review code provided by Square Enix.