Ryu’s Musings – NieR Automata (PC)

Language: Audio: Japanese & English, Subs: English
Developer: Square Enix, Platinum
Publisher: Square Enix
Format: PC
Type: Spectacle Fighter
Demo Box: PC
Synopsis: NieR: Automata tells the story of androids 2B, 9S and A2 and their battle to reclaim the machine-driven dystopia overrun by powerful machines.
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.

Please note this post does include some minor spoilers, I’ll try and keep it as vague as possible.

NieR Automata is probably one of the most anticipated games of the year, but sadly, for me at least, it’s fallen flat on its face. That’s not to say this is a totally bad game, because it isn’t. Actually at times it lives up to the hype and really is god damn amazing. But these section are interspersed with elements of tedium and boredom.

But before we get into this, lets talk about the good, because as I said it does have a lot of good going for it.

Firstly, the music. JRPG wise, or hell frankly any game in the last 6months or so, this is by far the best OST I’ve heard. The music is amazing, drawing you into the game and getting you pumped and hyped. If they don’t release this music DLC I’ll be seriously pissed off. Along with this amazing music you have a great set of sound effects.

Then we have the graphics, which for the most part are also pretty damn awesome, except for one area; the water. The water in this game is really weird, and doesn’t work well. Shame, since graphically this was the only thing that looks quirky.

Everything else is pretty damn amazing looking, including the world settings, the mobs and people. But I do find the lack of colour scheme to be a bit off, the constant sand colour of the game gets a bit stale after a while. I was expecting going to areas like the theme park, or the bunker, would have a different colour pallet, but nope.

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Now its not to say it’s bad colouring, I just happen to like variety!

Next we have the story, which I have to admit has really drawn me in. Learning about the world has been a hell of a lot of fun. I love the characters of 2B and 9S their banter is amazingly funny.

However some of their lines are a bit…off, but at times these are a little funny. I loved learning some of the history of the world, and then learning about the relationships of the robots, androids, humans and aliens. Then having all that understanding turned upside down as the story unfolds. That left me eager for more!

Mechanically the game is amazing, merging different genres together. Twin stick, schmup, side scroller, platforming, spectacle fighter with a dash of JRPG and MMO for good measure.

Sadly this is where things get a bit off. The game would have been great so long as they didn’t make it an open world game, with MMO elements. The great story and fighting is ruined by the drudge that are fetch and escort quests, and fishing of all things! The fetch quests are really annoying, to the point where I felt like throwing my controller out the window. Go from point A to B, do a thing, go back to A. Or in some cases go from A to B to A to B to D.

The escort quests were just as bad, slow walking, monsters spawning, and boredom to the max. It was even worse when I had one escort who refused to move, all because some robots spawned on a roof, no where near him. He wouldn’t move until I killed them.

Then you’ve the crafting. Why would I need to collect boar asses to upgrade my weapons? The upgrade materials don’t really make a lot of sense, given the world setting. It was as if it was added because thats whats expected for an open world game these days. Ignoring the fact that I’m an android from the moon, and I’m supposed to be a super soldier…why would soldiers buy their gear, or farm for upgrade materials. Sure, if it’s done right it could have had an interesting influence. Sadly it wasn’t done properly and results in noting more than frustration.

The problem is that these sorts of elements, whether it’s generic MMO quests, or the crafting, they ruin the pacing of what would have been an amazing story.

Then you’ve got the problem of missing critical information. You character uses skills, and these skills are ‘chips’ you plugin (you are a computer after all) and of course your limited to a certain capacity. The game makes no mention, ever, of how to increase that capacity. This is just one of the important things the game doesn’t tell you, leaving you to scour the web, wiki’s or forum posts telling you information the game should be giving you already.

Then there’s that map, dear god! Part of me gets where they’re coming from, and from an aesthetic view point I’m all for it. The problem is it’s impractical as hell. The map clearly shows a path through to a certain area, but you get there and find you can’t get through there due to invisible walls, and there’s a lot of those.

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Areas and buildings that you can clearly see a way though, but can’t get through because: ‘reasons’. The open world suddenly becomes less open, and more restrictive.

Another thing I want to talk about is the difficulty levels, because I’ve never seen a game like this. Games like this, usually tend to have a high skill ceiling making it difficult for some to really enjoy the game. So Platinum added an easy mode to their game, well, not an easy mode, lets call it what it is: Auto Play.

Essentially the game will play itself when it comes to combat. You still need to do all the running around and platforming elements. But when it comes to the combat the game takes over for you and basically wipes the floor with everything. I actually found it rather interesting to see your character bouncing all over the place while you sit back and munch popcorn.

You can alter the amount of control it has by adding or removing plugins, or even turn it off all together with left trigger.

I’m all for modes that open games up to more people, and frankly people need to stop complaining about things that have no impact on them. It’s a single player game after all.

Finally, lets talk the PC port. There’s a lot of conflicting reports on steam, but the only bug I’ve encountered is the fullscreen issue. You can set the game to 1080, but if you play it fullscreen it renders at 900p for some reason. The solution is to use Borderless gaming, which you can buy on Steam, or get free from their website.

While it’s a minor issue, it is something that needs to be addressed rather quickly. I’ve not encountered any of the other bugs people have reported, my achievements have unlocked fine, no game crashing, and the game runs at 60fps. Except of course the cut scenes which are 30fps. Other than that in the 12 hours or so I’ve played the game has ran perfectly with no crashes, not very often I get to say that!

In the end, is the game worth picking up?

Honestly I’m in two minds. On the one hand the combat, world and story are bloody amazing. The combat is satisfying, violent and a lot of fun. On the other hand, the game is hindered by its dull fetch quests, and bad pacing.

Normally I’d say use the steam refunds, but since the problems don’t become apparent till the game opens up, around the six hour mark, you wont be able to return it.

Right now, I wouldn’t buy it, I personally don’t think it’s worth it’s full asking price. Wait for it to on sale on steam, if you can get it for 50% off it’s a good buy.

It’s a shame really since initially this game had the potential, and frankly, should have been, my game of the year. Sadly thats not happening.

Though, I do have to admit I want to see how things play out and probably will keep playing, because the story is that interesting.

Author: Ryu Sheng