NieR: Automata Review
The plot of NieR: Automata is focused on YorHa Force androids that have been built and designed by humans to fight robots in a bid to reclaim earth from aliens. The YorHa Commander has given 2B, one of YoRha’s combat androids, a series of missions that would help achieve the goal of humankind. She is accompanied by 9S, a recon specialist android, who provides her assistance for the majority of the game.
There are 4 levels of difficulty to choose from: Easy – turns the game into child’s play, Normal – the most reasonable difficulty (probably), Hard – similar to normal but the enemies are stronger, and Very Hard – which means the robots will always deliver a fatal blow to the player. If you have bitten off more than you can chew, the game allows you to change the difficulty any time.
40 hours later in Normal difficulty, I have achieved one of the 26 different endings of this game but I feel like I still have a lot of areas to explore. I love the fact that the creators decided to make this game “hack-and-slash”, as opposed to your usual turn-based RPG. The game has no auto-save feature, which means you need to remember to save regularly or you will lose your progress.
The combat style is really exciting and encourages the player to try different combos using various weapons, each of which has a unique fighting style. As a combat android, 2B is able to wield two weapons, which allows the player to experiment, develop and master their own effective weapon combinations. You can upgrade each weapon using the items that you loot from robots and different locations. She is also equipped with a “pod” that allows her to fire several projectiles towards her target by holding the R1 button. Most of the time, my finger is permanently on the projectile button which makes me wish there was an option to use auto-fire projectile on normal difficulty, but that’s what I get for wanting a little bit more challenge.
Since 2B is accompanied by 9S, they fight together and he is controlled by AI. You can set him to be long range, close range, aggressive, passive, or balanced. Often times, he confuses me during stressful battles because his appearance looks very similar to 2B. That may be because they are YoRha androids but nevertheless, they could have assigned a variation of colours for different YorHa teams in order to separate them from each other. The AI also seems a bit off at certain points of the game and I noticed how he either stood idly or jumped around aimlessly whilst I struggled with an opponent.
There are times where 2B has to use a flight unit and kill several robots in a shoot ‘em up style and this is done on a 2D plane. This area of the game is less exciting for me because most of the time I am killing the usual robots, and I feel they could have enhanced this area further by putting me up against gigantic robots that look near impossible to defeat.
All androids are designed to equip different chipsets. The most accurate way of describing them is that equipped chipsets contribute towards your stats. There is a vast amount of chips to discover and equip with each set affecting your health, exp gain, skill cooldown and they may even enable you to self-destruct. The concept looks a bit unnerving and confusing at first, but it does eventually make sense as you go along. The chips are conveniently stackable because you can equip the same type and the stats effects will be added accordingly. Having said that, your chipset can only take a certain number of chips in total. Depending on the situation you are in the game, you can optimize the efficiency of your chipset by using the chips that compliment each other.
Now that I have discussed chipsets, you need to be mindful when you die in the game because your "corpse" will retain your equipped chipset. In order to retrieve your hard-earned chipset, you need to recover it from your corpse which is located in the exact point where you died. If you die again before you recover your chipset, all the chips in that set will disappear. I managed to work around this by simply loading my last saved data since there is no auto-save feature in the game.
The extent of the multiplayer feature of this game is very limited. You have the option to connect to the network which enables you to see other players’ corpses at the exact location where they died. The game then allows you to choose either to retrieve items from their corpses or to repair the android which will become an ally controlled by AI. You can have one repaired android ally at a time and it will self-destruct once it has reached the limit or if a robot managed to kill it. It’s a bonus if you choose to repair a high level android, especially against bosses, because they can deal high damage. If Square Enix had taken multiplayer into another level where players could fight each other and show off their equipped chipsets and weapons in real time, then this would have been a bigger, and therefore more appealing game.
All of these features have aided me into completing the game. The side missions are really fun to do and sometimes more challenging and engaging than the main quests. Every part of this game is highly detailed and very well thought; sometimes I take a step back in the middle of a battle just to appreciate the effort that has been put into the graphics. There may be some areas where it is monochromatic but I feel this is appropriate, considering that this is a post-apocalyptic game where almost everything was destroyed by the aliens. Even the background music on different scenes has been applied sensibly and effectively to convey the sense of despair and desperation. The voice actors performed really well with the voices befitting the appearance and personality of the characters.
If you are a fan of Kingdom Hearts, which is another Square Enix title, then you will enjoy playing NieR: Automata. It may not be on par with KH, but NieR has convinced me enough to do more playthroughs in order to explore, complete the side missions, and achieve the rest of the 25 endings. The main plot seems a bit cliché and tedious, but it still has not stopped me from getting attached with the main characters.