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NieR: Automata (PS4) review

On May 8, 2017 by Aaron Meehan

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NieR: Automata, developed by Platinum Games and published by Square Enix, is a sequel to NieR. In NieR: Automata players control androids 2B, 9S and A2 in a war against the machines created by alien invaders to defeat humanity. Like previous Platinum Games, the combat is fluid, almost water like its response to defensive and offensive inputs.

While combat is impressively responsive, it makes the game feel somewhat easy, especially on normal difficulty. In boss fights, I had no problem simply mashing to R2 trigger to perform dodged and using my character’s companion pod to perform ranged attacked before jumping in with a barrage of melee attacks. The fact I found the game easy doesn’t detract from its fluid nature, in fact, I would say the easiness of the combat was due to its fluid nature. When controlling 9S combat expands to hacking. Hacking allows you get inside an enemy unit or structure and attack it from the inside, well once you get past its systems defences.

In terms of story and characters, there is a lot more to the story than meets the eye, as the basic plot of android fighting machines to reclaim the Earth for the humans taking refuge on the moon gives way to a story about the nature of humanity and what it means to be alive. As you progress through the game’s numerous story routes you learn that like it real life nothing is black and white as you see the enemy machines evolve and take on human traits such as attempting procreation with one another, experience love, and most interesting of commit suicide in the belief that it will make them gods. In terms of the characters you control and interact with, they struggle with questions that include the morality of killing machines that pose no threat, as the game shows the player that some machines have chosen pacifism and wish to work with the androids for a brighter future.

In the end, NieR: Automata’s story is more than it appears, what is first shown to be a generic story about killing, becomes a story that asks you about what it means to be alive and what does it mean to be human.

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Moving onto gameplay, NieR: Automata has some interesting quirks that helps living up the experience. At certain moments players with control, a flight unit and the game will turn into a top down bullet hell shooter as the player has to shoot down enemies while avoiding waves of slow-moving energy bullets. Outside of the flight segments, the game changes between sidescroller and full 3D movement during certain segments of the game, and finally, the game allows you to fish.

In terms of RPG elements, players can purchase weapons and items, you can upgrade weapons via materials you collect during your travels. The RPG elements also extend to your pod, which can be equipped with powerful secondary weapons, these include missiles and a laser. You can also use plug-in chips, these chips allow you to enhance your defensive and offensive capabilities, with some chips allowing you to regain health if you don’t take damage for six seconds.

Now while I briefly talked about machines, bosses and the player controlled characters, I never mentioned their designs. In terms of machines, they look simplistic, almost as if they are made of scrap, but this design hides powerful ranged and melee weapons. Personally, I like the machine’s design as it makes them a bit easier to understand. In terms of bosses, there is a great diversity in design with the first boss you encounter being a giant old oil rig and another being an opera singer styled machine with dead androids covering her body. When it comes to bosses the difference between the normal encounters and bosses are visually striking and as such, no two bosses look the same. When it comes to the player-controlled characters, they are humanoid, although it is worth noting that some, mostly the female characters, wear revealing clothes.

In terms of the world, it of open-world design with multiple environments, which includes desert, city and factory. To add to the open-world design there is no loading screen to break up the exploration, which is impressive when you realise the game runs at 60fps. The game also makes a strong visual difference between the androids home base, the bunker, and the open world with the bunker being greyscaled and the open world having colour.

In terms of audio, NieR: Automata has an amazing soundtrack with game composer Keiichi Okabe, who composed music for both NieR and Darkengard, using vocal and non-vocal music to make every environment stand out.

In terms of issues with the game, there is noticeable graphical pop in, which can go from barely noticeable to graphics of objects popping in a few centimetres in front of you. Some textures are also lacking and when viewed up close are blurred.

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NieR: Automata offers a fluid combat alongside a story that asks numerous philosophical questions. However, the game does have minor graphical issues.

SCORE: 9/10

Pros Cons
+ Fluid combat  – Minor graphical issues 
+ A great engaging story   
+ Well designed enemy and friendly characters   
Developer Publisher Genre Rating Platform Release date
Platinum Games  Square Enix  Action RPG  18+ PlayStation 4, PC March 10, 2017 

*A review code was provided by the game’s publisher.*

For more information on NieR: Automata, visit https://www.niergame.com/.

Author: Aaron Meehan

Hi, I’m the creator of SG Gaming Info. When I’m not working on my writing or creating content for this site’s YouTube channel, I like to relax and enjoy character driven story games.

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