Remasters, remasters, remasters! They’re like Beetlejuice – if you say the word three times, some company will crank out a new one. Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139 (or whatever) is the latest in a long and continuing line of remasters/remakes/retreads to hit the scene. The original Nier was a 2010 action-adventure game that saw its share and love and hate, but it’s generally considered to be a cult classic, and this version does a lot to make it more palatable for new players.
Thousands of years in the future, things are…surprisingly not as bleak as you might expect! Sort of, anyway. The world’s ended but people have largely rebuilt. The problem is that some people are afflicted with a nasty disease called the Black Scrawl that kills the infected and has no cure. Our hero, who we’ll call Nier but who can be named by the player, has a sister who’s afflicted with this very disease, but he’s not willing to accept there’s no cure. Instead, he’ll scour the world to try and fix things, accumulating a stable of companions and discovering the nature of the apocalypse along the way.
Our hero’s adventures amount to a typical action-adventure game…right up until they don’t. For instance, Nier rapidly comes into possession of a magic book that he can use to blast away at enemies with magic bolts. These enemies are going to blast away right back, of course, so the affair ends up feeling like a bullet hell game in more pitched battles like boss fights. The goofy camera angles and insane plot you’ve come to expect from NieR Automata are present and accounted for as well, so expect to fight from a top-down perspective, swap over to a visual novel and more. Things get weird, but they certainly never get boring.
Nier’s an interesting game, for sure. It’s maybe even an artistic game. It’s important to remember, though, that Nier is still a somewhat old game. As a result, it’s going to make some old-game decisions that might not jive with players used to more modern games like Nier’s sequel. Observe the painful package-delivery quests and the numerous retries they’ll entail! Behold the tiny percentage-based enhancements that make up a big chunk of the upgrade system for a sizable portion of the game! Search for components to soup up your weapons and hope that you can find them! Fish! Quit playing the game despite it being your job to review it because you can’t fish! (We kid because we love.)
That’s not to say there aren’t any upgrades. This version of Nier boasts a considerably improved combat system that plays like a light version of a Platinum game, including a new counterattack mechanic to keep things feeling fresh. That’s saying nothing of how the game’s presentation has been souped up in pretty much every way, allowing it to stand with some of the more impressive modern action-RPGs. You’ll probably want to play this one on console as the Steam version, unsurprisingly, requires futzing about with fan-made mods to perform as expected, but either version is a dream when they’re running well.
If you’re willing to deal with the game’s many foibles and can exercise a little patience, Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139 is worth checking out. It’s got that bizarre flavor you’ve probably come to expect from Automata and perhaps Drakengard. Speaking of which, the way this whole series links together might be the most special thing about it, and we can only hope the Drakengard games manage to make their way onto modern platforms before the shaky existence of the digital storefronts on older consoles comes to an end.