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Nier – Review

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Nier - Review 1

Weiss, you dumbass!
Start making sense you rotten book or your gonna be sorry!
Maybe I’ll rip your pages out one by one or maybe I’ll put you in the  goddamn furnace!
How can someone with such a big, smart brain get hypnotised like a little bitch huh?
Oh Shadowlord, I love you Shadowlord!
Come over here and give Weiss a big sloppy kiss Shadowlord!
Now pull your head out of your goddamn ass and start fucking helping us!

Kaine – Nier Gerstalt Opening Scene

Before getting my hands on this game, I had no idea what it was about, I never really thought it would go far since it was a different type of game to the RPG’s Square Enix releases. However, it did end up being an impulse play and was initially shocked at the awesome opening scene which had it’s transcript detailed before the jump. Now, after I managed to get my family out of the room quickly before it came down to a comment on how vulgar the language was, I sat down and thought…. “Square Enix is finally growing up” since I would never expect anything like this to come from any other Square Enix RPG. Infact, Final Fantasy XIII might have been a better game if it had a bit of language like that, of course.

Lets discuss the Storyline first. As summarised on the back cover of the game case:

NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS

The voracious Black Scrawl plague has all but exterminated humanity, ending civilisation and twisting the world beyond recognition. Across this ruined landscape strides Nier, hell-bent on finding a cure for his infected daughter. With keen blade in hand and mighty allies at his side, he is heading into the very heart of darkness. There he will learn the truth about the accursed plague, his child… and himself.

Nier - Review 2Just for the record, in this review, the main character shall be named as “Father” as in the instructional manual, since for the entire game, you are referred to only by a custom name of your choosing. To review the storyline however (Minor Spoiler Alert), the storyline begins with the present day Father and Yonah in some dilapidated storage hiding from the shades alongside a book. Armed with only a metal pipe, he manages to protect Yonah for a period until they almost kill him, then comes in the book which grants him a number of strong powers. You will find yourself at level 50ish around that time, however you are then stripped of all the powers and levels and sent 1,300 years into the future where Father and Yonah live in a small village which is on the brink of collapse, with the only two visible buildings besides the small market is your place, and a giant library. Your daughter has caught a disease called the Black Scrawl which has no known cure, however you go out to find a cure for her. Then the storyline goes into two parts, the first is where you travel the world in order to research the black plague and help keep your daughter alive, and the second part is going around searching for 5 parts of a puzzle to unlock the final area.

Nier - Review 3The storyline starts off rather slow and boring overall for the first part, whilst you do minor quests in order to get money, research the black plague, rescue your daughter or just to spill blood. That being said, there were some good moments in the first part, such as the sorrowful story of Emil and when the village is overrun by monsters and the second part was full of good moments, leading up to a pretty interesting climax, however the climax at the end, could definately have been drawn out much longer than cramming them all into the last 30 minutes of the game. However, despite that, there are long periods of absolutely nothing going on, and the games means of compensating it by having you go out and fish (Took me quite a while to work out how that system worked) or run tasks which involve killing monsters or destroying machines. Despite that, it did have a solid storyline which made sense (Unlike the storyline of XIII which is just confusing), but could have been expanded on more and spread out through the entire game.

My only other little problem was with the added parts in the storyline on the second playthrough. They added components on the shades which actually made you not want to battle them at all. When you have a shade calling a robot you battle Beepy and having both the shade and robot considering each other friends, it is really painful to battle them, even more so when the discussion between the two friends continues whilst you are killing it.

Nier - Review 4I shall be upfront with you, I loved the characters within this game. You first off have the main character “Father” also known as Nier on all promotional packaging. The design of the character depends on what version you have, if you have any version of the game outside Japan or a Japanese XBox-360 version, you will have the older character as seen on the cover posted above. If you have the Japanese PS3 version, you will have the younger character. The differences are few, with the older character helping his daughter and the younger character will be helping his younger sister. Not much difference stands between the two however the core morals of him stay the same, help a friend, help your daughter and tear down anything that stands in the way of their peace. Not a generic character when you consider most main characters in games nowadays that like spilling blood have very little in the way of morals. His daughter/sister is named Yonah, who is the generic young child type who is adventurous, loves her father/brother and seemingly uncaring of her condition that their parental figure is worried about. Her personality is also shown in loading screens with letters in her diary which outline her feelings for others.

The father is accompanied by three other companions throughout the story.

Nier - Review 5Kaine – A skilled fighter choosing to weild dual-blades. All she wears is what could be described as  lingerie which is mentioned throughout the day, as well as having a vile mouth and temper. She is able to use dark magic which is similar to the black scrawl and is the focus of most of the other endings besides the first one in some way. I love this character, she is what I think Lightning could have been in Final Fantasy XIII as while she has the seriousness to her that both of them share, she has personality, and who can pass up the language she uses. Despite all this, she does have a kind and compassionate side to her, and is haunted by the memories of her grandmother.

Grimoire Weiss – A flying book that takes the name of Badass book away from Zetta from Makai Kingdom. He is a really interesting character as he has his own conflicts to deal with and at times shares the same vile tongue as Kaine, often causing them to have their own fights, with him calling her a hussy and making sarcastic remarks towards her about her clothing and attitude. Despite this, he is one who wishes to help the crew and supplies the father with his magical arsenal.

Nier - Review 6Emil – A young boy who was part of inhumane projects done by humans which leaves him unable to see others without petrifying them, thus rendering him wearing a blindfold. Originally the father is called in to assist him with some issues, which the father is convinced he is the myserious boyfriend of Yonah. After this, he plays a minor role in the first part of the game and then due to circumstances, becomes a main character in the second part. This character is definately an interesting one, however besides a few parts in the first part of the game, nothing much storyline worthy is made regarding him. Still, he does have a lot of backstory which is explored in depth and there is a hint of a crush between him and Kaine which is hinted often, often to the embarassment of Kaine.

Nier - Review 7I am impartial to the graphics of Nier, there are both good and bad components to it. To start off with the character designs, they are pretty well designed, and since each of the main characters has a different animation set and stature, they do pretty well to animate them overall. However, I found that except in cutscenes, if you zoomed in on the characters, the game would purposefully blur the character so it makes me question how much detail they put into the entire character model. However from the cutscenes, I did really like them, especially with one characters design in Part 2 which reminded me of The Nightmare Before Christmas. It is good to see that not all characters are wearing similar styles of clothing, and it varies depending on their upbringing, so for example, Yonah lived a realatively quiet life so she wore something plain and simple, the father wears suitable attire to his job and Kaine, well I have no idea the history behind the lingerie, but hey, it is different.

Nier - Review 8Location designs are also differing in opinion. Overall, the north and south field maps are pretty much similar to Hyrule Field in Ocarina of Time, they are essentially just plain maps to get you from place to place with a few locations and battles in-between. The fathers village is also pretty disappointing where it is your house, a lot of open space and then a small village. I think that if they were to include this much free space, actually use it instead of having the main character have to run through it. That being said, all of the other towns are very well detailed, and in the case of the desert town, they force you to take a tour of it, which I think they want to just show off their handywork, althrough at the same time, the town did look like it came out of a Where’s Wally book through.

Overall, the graphics are not up to the standard of say, Final Fantasy XIII or Heavy Rain, but I have seen much worse on current-generation consoles. It does need polishing up but it is fine to the eyes. On that note, when my father watched me play it over the weekend, despite the comments on how violent and bloody it was, he did say he really liked the graphics. So it might be to some peoples tastes and not to others.

I really do love the music in this game. You will find there are about three mixes of the same song at times, but they are usually for the same purpose, for example the closer you get to Devola, the more you can hear the lyrics of the song she is singing. Just like games such as Persona 4, a number of tracks have lyrics to them as well, which is a nice touch when running through a dungeon or town. My favourite instrumental tune would have to be “Dark Colossus Destroys Us All” which is a pretty good intense music for the times it is used. There is a nice variety as well from the very soft to the really intense, allowing all moods within the game to be catered for.

Voice acting wise, I was originally a bit cautious to the voice acting, however soon after the game got going I really enjoyed it, especially during the conversations you would have with your party members during battles, in towns and in the fields and they carry the moods of the characters well. I especially love the attitudes carried by both Weiss and Kaine during their sarcastic dispute moments.

Gameplay was a big mixed bag, where it seemed like they have tried to experiment with a number of different genres to see what ones work. Technically this game is an Action game crossed with visual novel, fishing game, some sort of alchemy game and farming game all delivered as one big package. So I would like to focus on each of these and my thoughts on each of them in detail.

Nier - Review 9Action Game

Undeniably the core gameplay. This game focuses on a basic square button to attack triangle to perform a special attack. As well, L1, L2, R1 and R2 buttons can be assigned to special dark attacks which allow you to use Weiss to perform spells. Generally you dont need to worry about changing spells once you get Lance and Hand, but it is always nice to have a selection. The game starts you off small with maybe one or two enemies on screen at a time however it is soon increased to having 20-30 monsters on screen at once, all splattering blood as you massacre them all. I never really got tired of the gameplay and was more than happy to keep running around and finding methods to attack boss enemies. This is also improved with several quests which tie in with all the features of the game, usually requiring you to harvest, fish or mostly kill something. Overall, it is a decent action game.

Visual Novel

During the game they will ask you a few times to take part in some sort of Dream/Storytelling Activity where you have to answer small questions relating to the content in order to pass. This involves the screen going black and showing page after page of white text. Painful if you fail and have to redo it all over again. Thank goodness it is only really important in part one.

Fishing

The game only encourages you to fish once, in order to catch a fish to help Yonah, and that takes a while to get adjusted to, however after you get adjusted to it, it is a pretty solid fishing system such as in the game Ocarina of Time. This is a great way of making money if you need it for item purchases, since some fish provide a pretty decent source of income. Overall, I spent hours fishing to get the 1,000,000 gold trophy, and it is a great way to do some quests and get some funny lines with Weiss and the father. Besides a money making option, I wouldnt bother unless you really like fishing, and even then it is just memorising what vibrations to the rod match what fish.

Item Farming

The most stressful component of this game is item farming to upgrade your weapons. Each weapon has four levels, with each level having a variety of items needed to upgrade it. However, a lot of the items have such rare item drops that you need to grind to even get one of an item, up to a reported half an hour for one item and you need five of them to enhance all weapons. I wouldnt object to it in an online game where I can show off my rewards, but in offline game, I found it a bit too grindy. After getting to the end of all the multiple endings, I had only completed 3 out of the 30 weapons available. Of course, to those that like hunting and have better luck than me, I do think it is a great system to keep people continuing to enjoy the game.

Farming

As in the normal planting seeds and growing plants. Honestly, I did it a few times and found the only way that this would be viable to gamers is if one of two requirements are filled:

  1. You actually enjoy farming games or
  2. You use a time jump cheat where you change the time and date of the console.

I did manage to make the legendary flower using the time jump cheat, but for making money, I found it more effective to just fish.

Nier - Review 10This game does offer a decent amount of replayability. The game has a total of 4 endings, ranging from A-D and you can only unlock one on each playthrough (Except C and D where you can use the same save file to unlock both if done correctly). At the end of each playthrough, you are sent back to the start of Part 2 and have to hunt the five keys again to get to the final level again to unlock a different ending. You are allowed everything from your previous ventures through so it is a big walk in the park for most. To entertain those people, there are a number of silver trophies up for grabs from time trials of all the main boses, which adds an extra challenge, unless you completed them all in your first playthrough like I did. The only other crush to the replayability that I have is that my favourite battle scene in the whole game, ended up being cut from Part 2, so I have to play through the whole first part of the game again to enjoy it. I would personally advise completing Ending C before Ending D however, else you may regret it (They are not joking when they give you the warning.)

In my personal opinion, Nier is a moderate success for Square Enix. It doesn’t live up to the expectations of similar games, however at the same time it does do a some things right which leads to an interesting experience. My only personal problem I had was that to interact with something, you had to use the circle button, however to actually choose something on that menu, you had to use the X button as the circle button would close the menu. One of my favourite bits of the game was the little hints of other games, such as, unless my eyes were decieving me, in the Barren Temple, the King who you have gone to rescue gets a mask and recieves it in the same way that Link does in ever Legend of Zelda game. It has been a worthwhile 26 hours of gaming, however I don’t think I will be playing it again anytime soon to get the last three upgrade trophies, I think that is beyond me at the moment.

Overall Score

Storyline – 6
Characters – 8
Graphics –  7
Music/VA – 10
Gameplay – 7
Replayability – 7
Personal Opinion – 7

Total Score – 7.5

Sam
Sam
Founder of The Otaku's Study. I have been exploring this labyrinth of fandom these last fourteen years, and still nowhere close to the exit yet. Probably searching for a long time to come.

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