Nier Replicant Ver.1.22474487139 … – PlayStation 4
“NieR Replicant is still the same flawed game it was in 2010, but a much-needed touch-up makes its fantastic story shine.”
Fully developed characters
Exciting new content
The much-needed visual upgrade
Blunt side quests
NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… tries to rewrite history. The action RPG is an updated version of NieR, a cult PlayStation 3 game that received a lukewarm reception when it launched in 2010, the game that was doomed to dark.
That is, if the players can overcome the problems they had with it. That’s the tricky thing about remakes of this type; In a way, you are bound to fate. The new version brings updated graphics and gameplay improvements, but it’s still the same PS3 game with all of its strengths and flaws kept true to the original.
While the update can’t solve basic design issues, the much-needed improvements from NieR Replicant finally let the fantastic story of the original game shine. Players may rush for a challenging experience to get there, but few games are as narratively bold and mystifying as this one.
A haunting journey
The opening sequence of NieR Replicant is about as arresting as it comes. Players are instantly introduced to an apocalyptic environment filled with jumbled shadows, creepy beings that look like they’re half torn out of reality. We meet a panicked boy who tries to protect his sick little sister while the two are in a shabby building. There’s a massive battle in which the hero quickly shoots to level 30, followed by a deeply disturbing leap in time over 1,300 years into the future.
This is just the beginning of a haunting story that continues to fascinate. Over a century later, the same brother and sister live and survive in a humble village founded long after the collapse of humanity. The game begins by finding the boy to track down magical spells called Sealed Verses that can cure his sister’s mysterious illness but barely scratch the surface. It’s a completely unpredictable story that is a page-turner for video games. The less you know about it, the better.
One notable change here is that NieR Replicant uses the protagonist from the Japanese version of the game. When NieR originally started in the US, the optimistic brother turned into a gruff old man who wanted to save his daughter. The change makes a huge difference. The hero feels more vulnerable and it makes the journey more personal.
Perhaps NieR was barely ahead of his time, but like his hero, the story has not aged a day all these years later.
The story is striking, but it’s the characters that give it soul. Along the way, players encounter companions like Grimoire Weiss, a presumptuous, sentimental book, and Kainé, a warrior with a mouth as fierce as her blade. Each character receives a fully realized arc on the way to the true end of the game. Like NieR Automata, the game features multiple endings that require players to repeat parts of the game multiple times. It’s an unnecessarily demanding barrier that is sure to put some off, but I was more than ready to move on to achieve a closure that is really paying off.
There’s an alternate timeline where NieR is the early 2010 PS3 release, which raises the bar for video game narrative than it did for 2013’s The Last of Us. Both titles have strong character work and use similar ones Tricks to hide information from players. Perhaps NieR was barely ahead of his time, but like his hero, the story has not aged a day all these years later.
Bronze, not platinum
If it looks like I’ve spent a lot of time praising the story, it’s because the gameplay is where it is problematic. The most important thing about this is that it wasn’t developed by PlatinumGames which NieR Automata handled. Those hoping for the same action the studio is known for will be disappointed with the downgrade.
The combat systems are similar on their surface. It is an action role-playing game in which players with oversized weapons hack through shades. The difference is that NieR Replicant’s swordplay is a one-button affair. Hacking involves pressing the attack button over and over while playing the same combination. It’s a repetitive system that makes some of the game’s later fights feel like they’re on an autopilot.
The fight has been redesigned for the game to feel a little closer to NieR Automata, but there’s only so far that it can go. While it feels more fluid, small changes can hide incompletely cooked actions that barely change over the course of 30 hours.
A magical system helps solve some of these problems. Players can assign four different spells to their controller’s triggers, adding a little more versatility and range to the battles. Basic actions like dodging and blocking also need to be mapped to buttons. Therefore, players should adapt their toolset to suit their play style. The game’s “word” system is a nice touch too. Defeated enemies can drop a magic word randomly that can be applied to any weapon or ability. These can increase attack power, add effects to weapons and much more. Customizing a loadout requires more brainpower than actually using it.
The fight has been redesigned for the game to feel a little closer to NieR Automata, but there’s only so far that it can go.
The mileage will vary here. The story is awesome, but is it worth fighting your way through pesky battles to get there? That depends on how much the narrative and characters appeal to players. I found myself invested enough to prevail, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t rush through battles to get to the cutscenes.
Replicate the original
When it comes to remakes (or “version upgrades” as director Yoko Taro calls it), NieR Replicant brings a lot to the table. The most important thing is to reconnect the 2010 game with its superior sequel. NieR and Automata have long felt completely separate, but the new pass unites them. The visual boost, fantastic re-recorded music, and combat improvements finally make these games feel like they are part of the same universe.
At least NieR Replicant makes it easier to put up with the mistakes with a more modern paint job that is easy on the eyes and ears.
Replicant is also bringing some new content to the game, which is a welcome addition. There’s a new quest that blends in seamlessly with the story, adding more depth to an underdeveloped area of the original (but also adding length to the repetitions required). There’s one more piece of new content that is downright spectacular. I’m not going to spoil the fun, but it sure is the main selling point for NieR fans hungry for deeper lore.
All of the new aspects are great, but there are a lot that can’t be fixed. Side quests are mostly lifeless retrieval missions, the story tirelessly takes players into the same handful of areas, and the game’s female lead is still wearing incredibly revealing lingerie that barely qualifies as clothing.
Some of the issues people had with the original game are actually fixed here because they’re too embedded in the core design. Anything but a remake in the style of Final Fantasy VII could not have completely rewritten history. Perhaps NieR is a phenomenal work of storytelling trapped in a mediocre action RPG. Nevertheless, at least NieR Replicant makes it easier to endure the mistakes with a more modern paint job that is easy on the eyes and ears.
NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… confirms that the original NieR was way ahead of its time and way behind it. The story is incredibly engaging and only gets better with newly added content. On the other side of the coin, the repetitive gameplay feels dated, even by 2010 standards. Those who push their way through the 30-hour adventure will be rewarded with a daring odyssey. In retrospect, it may even outperform NieR Automata, but it’s hard to blame someone who’d rather watch it all on YouTube than play it for themselves.
Is there a better alternative?
NieR Automata remains the more polished and fun game of the two. Those who haven’t played it should start there and come back to it when they itch for more.
How long it will take?
Reaching the true end takes a total of 30-35 hours. Beat the game once takes closer to 20, but believe me when I say that by the time you stop there, you’ll only have played half the game.
Should you buy it?
Yes. Those who believe the gameplay is king may want to have clear control, but the story here is unlike anything out there.