A Platinum Quality Game

When it comes to hyper-stylised action games, Platinum Games seems to be the company that reigns over all, and that’s for good reason. Over the past few years, they’ve quickly grown within the gaming industry, and play a huge part in delivering unique, fast paced action games that are almost unrivalled by anything else. They’re hands down one of my favourite developers, and while they’ve had some stumbles with their recent releases, I’m still at the point where I’ll buy a game simply because it has the Platinum logo slapped on the cover. NieR: Automata was one of those games. Having never played the original, I had no idea what to expect in regards to anything excluding gameplay, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t get it. After an excellent pre-release demo, NieR: Automata instantly had me hooked and wanting more. Platinum once again willingly display their skills in an effort to show their finesse in this particular genre, and what an effort it is.

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The first NieR originally came out in 2010.

Glory to Mankind

NieR: Automata takes place in the future, where humanity has been driven from Earth by aliens, only to take refuge on the moon. Machines now roam the desolate dystopia that Earth became without its human inhabitants, and humanity seeks to fight back through the use of androids. You play as one of these androids, 2B who is a combat unit from YoRHA, the force trying to take back Earth from the machines. It’s hard to talk about anything else without spoiling anything, but it’s worth mentioning that I have not played the original NieR, so my opinion will not be influenced by the events or lore of the first game. I absolutely loved NieR: Automata’s narrative, and it’s simply one of the most emotional, thought-provoking, and interesting narratives i’ve ever experienced. 2B is incredibly well-developed over the course of the campaign, and her characterisation changes dramatically due to the events that take place throughout the story. The same goes for the supporting cast in the form of 9S, A2, Pascal and numerous other characters, who are all extremely likeable. It consistently surprised me with its dark tones and themes, and the story is told excellently with some stellar voice acting and cut scenes throughout the narrative. The world is beautifully crafted through the story, and I genuinely cared about the people and their problems that came in the form of side quests. And while a lot of NieR is quite dark, there were often moments of comedic flourish and oddity to be found. Some of the themes and ideas NieR tackles are extremely interesting, and the multiple story revelations across the different endings always had me on the edge of my seat. NieR: Automata took me about 12 hours to finish fully on my first play through, but I was pleased to find out that the game boasts multiple endings, 26 different ones in fact, making for a lot of replay value if the gameplay isn’t a good enough reason already, but trust me, that shouldn’t be the case.

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The demo for NieR: Automata was actually the start of the game. 

Machine VS Machine

On paper, NieR: Automata’s primary gameplay loop sounds like an absolute mess, but surprisingly it’s not, so bear with me while I try to explain it. NieR: Automata is an open world hack n’ slash action RPG with bullet hell like sequences found often throughout it’s combat encounters. If that seems like a mouthful to say, that’s because it is, simply due to how often NieR bends genre and changes gameplay styles, but it works. I don’t know how it works but it just does. Platinum have somehow found a way to seamlessly blend third person hack n’ slash with bullet hell sections with incredible pace and fluidity. You have to play it to understand how well it’s executed, but I feel like it’s something that only Platinum could have pulled off. Third person combat plays how you would expect it to, you have heavy and light attacks, which can be used to create combos, a dodge, a pod that shoots at enemies, and an ability that said pod can utilise. 2B can have any two weapons equipped at one time, and these range from short swords and long swords, to gauntlets and spears. All feel unique, distinguished and properly developed, and swapping between them on the fly can make for some truly lengthy and flashy combos. Chip sets act as power ups for 2B when battling enemies. As 2B levels up (more on that later) she unlocks more space for her chips which give her boosts to attack, defence, health and other things of the sort. It creates for a variety of gameplay options in combat, and being able to change them when and where you want is certainly efficient and easy to use. If that wasn’t enough as it is, NieR also takes a page from how Dark Souls handles death. Due to narrative circumstances, when 2B dies, she can recover the chip-set and a few levels of EXP that she dropped upon death. This adds an element of suspense to recovering your dead body that is likely scattered somewhere among the flock of deadly machines that just took your life 5 minutes prior. Killing machines and completing quests awards 2B with EXP, which goes towards her levelling up and increasing her own stats. Enemies are level based too, so you can generally tell when you can take on an enemy. The game is difficult as is, so try not to punch above your weight unless you’re playing on easy. NieR’s set pieces and boss battles are nothing short of spectacular, and they certainly hold up to Platinum’s previous work. They’re frenetic, fast paced, stylish, and more often than not colossal, making for some truly epic moments. It screams Platinum inside and out, and are easily one of the strongest parts of the game. It’s bullet hell sections are also very well designed, and it felt like there were just the right amount. When you aren’t decimating machines, you’ll be exploring the open world and doing side quests, most of which felt meaningful, and more than just simple fetch quests. When exploring the world, items can be found scattered around the environment, and platforming is plentiful, which is incredibly fluent and precise. All in all, NieR: Automata’s gameplay is in my opinion is its strongest asset, and it makes for a lot of replayability, much like the story does.

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If you aren’t sold on the gameplay already, you can also sand surf.

Reclaimed by Nature

I played NieR: Automata on the PS4 Pro, and it’s everything I expect from a Platinum game in terms of graphics and performance. The game ran at 1080p and a consistent 60 FPS, which is crucial considering the timing and precision that the game requires of you. It looks excellent, and runs even better. Some environments look absolutely amazing, such as the amusement park, but I couldn’t help but feel that some of the open world areas were a bit lacklustre.

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The PS4 Pro version also has motion blur.

Verdict: 9.5/10

NieR: Automata is a shining example of what Platinum Games are capable of when they’re at their best. It’s another excellent entry into the NieR series, and Platinum has truly outdone themselves yet again, with an excellent story, strong gameplay, beautiful visuals and perfect performance. NieR: Automata delivers on all fronts that a Platinum game should, even if some of its environments are a bit dull.

Positives

-Incredible story

-Likeable characters

-Interesting themes and ideas

-Fluent, fast, frenetic gameplay

-Excellent boss fights

-Meaningful side quests

-Beautiful graphics

-Strong performance

Negatives

-Some dull environments

Thanks for reading guys, next is Horizon Zero Dawn.

Thanks, Harry.

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