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About the product
- Action-Packed Battles – Players switch between melee and ranged attacks in battle against hordes of enemies and challenging bosses across a variety of open field maps
- Beautifully Desolate Open-World – The game joins together beautiful vistas and locations with no area loading. Environments contain a wealth of sub-events in addition to the main storyline.
- Masterfully Crafted Story and Characters – The game tells the story of androids and their ferocious battle to reclaim a machine-driven dystopia overrun by powerful weapons known as machine lifeforms
- Elements of an RPG – Players will obtain a variety of weapon types, level up in battle, learn new combat skills, and customize a loadout that caters to their playstyle
- “Auto Mode” Available for Beginners – Novice players can elect “Auto Mode” for easy attacks and evasions
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From the manufacturer
Developer: PlatinumGames Inc.
An extra-terrestrial invasion has left mankind exiled on the moon. Androids are sent to the deserted ruins of our home planet in order to remove the menacing Mechanoids. The YoRHa 2B, the latest infantry model android, is tasked with the perilous mission to rid of the invaders from the surface of Earth. Where will the on-going proxy war between Androids and Mechanoids lead to?
GameSpot – 9/10.
CGMagazine – 10/10.
PlayStation Universe – 9.5/10.
GamesRadar – [4.5 stars].
Destructoid – 9/10.
IGN – 8.9/10.
Humanity has been driven from the Earth by mechanical beings from another world. In a final effort to take back the planet, the human resistance sends a force of android soldiers to destroy the invaders. Now, a war between machines and androids rages on... A war that could soon unveil a long-forgotten truth of the world. Developed by an all-star team consisting of producer Yosuke Saito (DRAGON QUEST X / NIER), director YOKO TARO (Drakengard / NIER), character designer Akihiko Yoshida from CyDesignation, Inc. (FINAL FANTASY XIV / BRAVELY DEFAULT), game designer Takahisa Taura from PlatinumGames Inc. (Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance), and composer Keiichi Okabe from MONACA, Inc. (TEKKEN / Drakengard 3 / NIER).
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Almost immediately the game starts to subvert those expectations piece by piece, deconstructing and twisting in on itself until you've abandoned any notion of predictability.
The first thing that surprised me about the game was the consistent fluidity of the combat, and how the mechanics seem to hold up even as the game throws new ideas and situations at you. The basic controls and rhythm remain the same as the game forces the perspective of a top-down shooter, or a 2D platformer. These experimental shifts never require you to mentally adapt or use different controls. I've never seen a game transform itself so frequently and effortlessly.
The story is also in a league of its own, as it starts with a very simple premise yet expands into something far more transgressive and poignant. It conveys its themes in a very surreal, postmodern style that blends tragedy with dark, offbeat humor, even going so far as experimenting with the fundamental structure of video games itself. (Disclaimer: Do not stop playing once the credits roll. You've barely scratched the surface.)
This is one of those games that you will think about long after you finish it. I can't recommend it enough.
Not Synesthesia, but Something New
First of all, this is an action game, but unlike any you have ever played. As a 30 minute YouTube review noted (SkillUp if you want to check it out), this game not only switches from third-person action game (Kingdom Hearts) to top-down shooter (Ikaruga), to Twin Stick shooter (Enter the Gungeon), to Geometry-Based Twin Stick shooter (Geometry Wars), to side-scrolling shooter (Contra), it also switches SEAMLESSLY between them. There's no load screen. The camera simply shifts or fades out and the controls stay the same. Combine that with a soundtrack that also switches seamlessly between 8-bit and orchestral versions, and quiet and dynamic versions (with and without vocals!) to adjust to what is happening, and you have something completely new in games. You have a game that changes the sights and sounds dynamically on-the-fly in tandem so that the visuals and audio are always expressing exactly the same emotion based on what you do. This is similar in concept to the game Rez, where your actions to destroy enemies make different sounds depending on what you do, but that game (while awesome), only performs on rails in 3D, and features one version of a song that you riff off of. Nier's audio/visual experience is a whole other beast entirely.
A Circus Act Desperate For Your Applause
The same YouTube review likened the pacing and theatrics of Nier:Automata to a street performer constantly having to surprise you and top what they just showed you to hold your attention and get you part with your hard-earned cash, and he's not wrong. The first act of this three act (or three play-through, if you will) game ought to make you says "Wow!" quite a few times. I know that I was consistently surprised, shocked, amazed, and delighted in those first 15 hours. The tutorial level shocked me by KILLING ME(!), granting me an achievement for dying (!!), and allowing me to find my own corpse and grab the items I had lost (!!!). Once you get past that tutorial (don't give up! the game is teaching you how to play, I promise!), you are in for a roller-coaster of a ride. You'll have many "What the heck?!" moments followed by some of the most intense boss battles you've ever seen. The structure is, again, like Kingdom Hearts. You head somewhere, a cut-scene kicks in, you have somewhere to go, or something to do, you fight Machines along the way, encounter bosses, get new items, equip them, and unlock new places to go, etc. It's just that this core gameplay is taken to it's adult limit in terms of the unexpected and awesome. You have plugin chips that radically alter how you fight and heal, but they also can take away elements of the UI if removed (or even kill you!), you have many equitable weapons for both close range and long range attacks, and this means if you aren't enjoying the game you need to alter your combat style and equipment to reflect your personal taste and the situation at hand. Brilliant.
More Than the Sum of It's Flaws
Many people who don't like this game complain about it's flawed mechanics/execution. It's open-world, but there's invisible walls where you can't go. Your attacks don't evolve as you level up and the combat is repetitive. The game varies from too easy to too hard. There isn't enough character development. The plot isn't explained obviously enough/doesn't make sense. They don't like replaying the first campaign a second time. Well...
I agree with others who have stated a 10 out of 10 doesn't have to be about perfection of mechanics and execution. It can be about being revolutionary in concept, and in a competent execution of said revolutionary concept. This game is not PERFECT. It has flaws and weaknesses. But it's 4th-wall-shattering revolutionary execution of it's concepts is so groundbreaking that the flaws just don't matter if you get what the game's creator was trying to make you experience.
A lot of people have talked about the music of this game so I'll be brief. Not only is the music amazing but it dynamically changes in response to what you are doing in the game. You need to play the game to understand what I'm talking about but suffice it to say that you need to both play the game and listen to the score on its own to fully appreciate it, because it really is THAT good. Just when you think you're starting to get tired of it and think you'll soon never want to hear it again, it gets stuck in your head and haunts your dreams.
The Plot, The Emotion, A Desolation That Leads to Joy
The first play-through of 15 hours is a shock-and-awe masterpiece of Grade A Action Movie Awesome. It tells a complete story, it's fun, it's fulfilling. But it's pretty obvious by the end that you known NOTHING about what's really going on. The second playthrough introduces a new hacking mechanic which is/can be used so often that many get tired of it. That said, it is certainly interesting, and adds, along with the new cut-scenes, a completely new dimension to the second playthrough. The second playthrough also grants you a new perspective, and has a HUGE revelation to the plot at the end that you probably saw coming a hundred miles away. Even so, it definitely adds to the game.
The third playthrough takes everything you have seen up to this point and dials it up to 11. You gain ANOTHER completely new perspective, everything you known and love is completely destroyed, and you'll likely find yourself yelling at your TV along with the protagonists "WHAT IS GOING ON!?!?!?" It's not as "fun" as the first play-through, and the big shockers are in the plot, not in the gameplay, so in a sense it's not as "good" as the first play-through. That said, it carries the majority of the emotional weight of the game, and let's you play as my favorite character (and it's the second half of the story), so if you want to see the entire story I think it would be absolute madness to give up after beating only the first play-through as 2B. But hey, you paid for it, do whatever you want...
The overall plot has elements of everything from Shakespeare (yes, the themes of his plays are buried in there, and even the character names are references), to The Matrix, Battlestar Galactica, and every dystopian futuristic anime you can think of (and the bible, for good measure). The character development is subtle, and if you like your plot points and character development anvil-dropped on your head you may miss the subtleties. A clenched-fist and mysterious quiet musing here echoes across multiple breakthroughs. I for one love anime stoic/heroic action girls (my fav anime archetype) so I loved 2B and A2 to death. 9S is something else but he's definitely a completely different character in the second half from the first and far less of a one-note performance than your first play-through might make you think.
ALL of the voice actors who worked on this game deserve accolades. There was ample opportunity to cheese-it-up on this game, but every voice actor in the English dub gave a heartfelt nuanced performance (superb direction of the voice acting). Easily on par with a major motion picture with the top tier of actors. And the writing of both the spoken and written dialog (didn't I mention it? how stupid of me. there's written story that's just as good and sometimes better than the cut-scenes, just so you have even MORE types of gameplay experience to draw upon for the story(!)), is absolutely superb in its translation.
If, like I was, you are feeling depressed after beating all three campaigns but have yet to play the "true" ending that comes after seeing both sides of the final battle, I advise you to keep going and see the final, final, FINAL conclusion of the game. Because believe it or not, the END CREDITS SEQUENCE is what is going to make this one of the greatest games you have ever played. Or...I don't know. Maybe not if you're really cynical I guess.
In The End
Never has a game made me cry like this. Never has a game shocked me like this. Never has a game made this depressed, or this happy. Never has a game made me yell "Wow!" so often or so loudly. Never has a game made me say "Oh my god!" so often and so loudly (especially in the first 20 minutes of the third play-through). And never, NEVER has a game made me yell at the screen in hopeful joyous triumph like the true ending of this game did.
If that's not enough to make you play it all the way to the fifth ending I don't know what will. And if the game's creator should ever happen to read my review I just want to say...
"Thank you Yoko Taro. Thank you. Life is worth living and I'll never give up. I swear."
P.S. Oh yeah. And for those who care, 2B is wonderful, but I LOVE A2. I married her after all.