We'll probably never write a harder review. NieR: Automata is an enigma: a game with such contempt for convention that we can't even talk about two-thirds of it without spoiling the surprises that await you. This is a game that defies all expectations, flourishing with frequent playthroughs and building to a crescendo that breaks the fourth wall so hard that it'll leave you with permanent structural damage. Simply put it's sublime – but you'll need patience to reap its rewards.
The reality is that the game doesn't really get going until you reach your third playthrough. No, that's not a mistake: you won't even get a proper title card until you've seen the release's credits roll twice. If you're coming into this expecting traditional Platinum Games character action then you'll come away somewhat satisfied, but it's the layers that oddball director Yoko Taro builds upon what initially seems like a pretty threadbare plot that makes it something truly special indeed.
We're not going to lie: we were seriously underwhelmed with the game at first blush. 2B's campaign is competent, but it's marred by genre tropes and an unsatisfying conclusion. Fetch quests and escort missions litter the role-playing portion of the release, while poor performance and unsatisfying navigation drag down the open world aspect. Then you play through it again and, one clumsily implemented mechanic aside, the story kicks up a notch.
And then, with your third playthrough, it begins proper.
We can't delve into specifics because we'd spoil the snowball effect for you, but rest assured the game amps up its excellence the more time that you spend with it. Perhaps it's unreasonable to ask you to grind through over 30 hours of gameplay to get to the best bits; many probably won't even bother and will give up upon seeing its credits roll once. But persistence is one of the themes of this game, as its true ending illustrates. You even get to write a message of encouragement for other players to read. Seriously.
So what can we say? Well, the story's set thousands of years after aliens have invaded Earth, forcing humanity to take up residence on the moon and create its own line of androids to destroy the robotic threat that's commandeered by the extraterrestrials. It sounds silly and it should: the title's not afraid to embrace a bit of black humour. But for as laugh out loud funny as some of the writing can be, it's also capable of seguing into sombreness just as quickly.
Make no mistake, this is a weird game: the imagery is both affecting and downright dumb at times. But it takes some well-trodden themes and spins them out into something impressive: the first playthrough will have you rolling your eyes, the second on the edge of your seat, and the third – well, the third... It's something else! Not only does the spectacle improve and the story with it, but so too does the imagination of its director – it's just wild how creative this title gets.
Of course, with genius comes serious setbacks, and this is far from a perfect game: the combat borders on tedious with one character in particular, and even at its best it never quite occupies the same stable as a Bayonetta or a Devil May Cry. Moreover, the performance is truly poor – even on the PlayStation 4 Pro, where it frequently and aggressively slips from its 60 frames-per-second target. It's particularly disappointing seeing as, outside of some strong character designs, it's a rather ugly game.
But even when criticising its weaker aspects, there are some great ideas that need to be acknowledged. For example, the pod – a levitating companion with long-range fire – not only augments the outing with some genre bending sh'mup-esque action, but it also forms the backbone of a clever skill tree-style system that sees you attaching different ability boosting chips to its motherboard – each requiring differing amounts of space.
And it's in this particular mechanic that the title teases its playfulness: remove your pod's operating system and you'll see one of the game's many gag endings. A lack of autosave can make these jokes unfunny at times, but once you get to grips with the game's expectations of you – save often, basically – it's not so bad. And look, we admit it: the release has the capacity to frustrate and sometimes even grate more than is acceptable. But you simply have to stick with it.
There's something special here: it's relatable, intelligent, and that final act – it's ingenious. The well-trodden anime tropes may test even the most ardent weeaboos, but while it seems for large portions of the game that it's content with simply revisiting them, it blossoms into something so much more. As an action RPG there are some addictive systems and great set-pieces here – but as a piece of fiction, it cleverly leverages the medium in a way that's seldom seen. And that, frankly, deserves to be celebrated.
An oddity that grows in stature the more time that you spend with it, NieR: Automata is so much more than you think it is – and it's all the better for it. Some decent writing aside, its side-quests fall into genre pitfalls and its open world can be annoying to navigate. But if you're able to look beyond its shortcomings as a game then you'll be richly rewarded. And while we can't really elaborate on why that is, you're just going to have to trust us.
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Any questions, feel free to copy me in!
I said before i wait for this game from the first trailer until now! I played demo and that's sounds like a unic game with special game play
How long is nier? I mean after finishing it can you go any game+ or some thing(without that how many hours take to finish it once? )
@pbernoos It's about 40 hours. I suggest you read/watch the review for more information on how New Game + works.
Do I need to have played the first Nier to understand the story? I assume not.
On Twitter you said a game you were playing had a "wow ending" was this it? If so then I'm intrigued.
Also I think it gets overlooked a bit but I think it's great what this site does in having a reviewer answer questions from the readers, it really helps flesh out certain issues people may have that can be addressed.
@adf86 You don't need to have played the first one. And yes, this is the game with the "wow" ending.
@KratosMD Worth noting that it's already been out in Japan a couple of weeks and no frame rate patch yet.
This has been my most anticipated game for a long time I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on it tomorrow.
I just hope that between NieR, Nioh, Horizon, and Ghost Recon, I have enough time to get to that third playthrough......
@get2sammyb So the game's about 40 hours long, but you have to play it through three times to get the most from it?
Got it on pre-order, but I'm pretty absorbed by Horizon at the moment and don't want to play them both simultaneously.. Will see how I feel once it arrives. It's unlike me to stick a new game on the shelf to play later!
@kyleforrester87 There are just too many good games right now, aren't there? It's actually making me stressed!
@Jake3103 I know was complaining to my girlfriend about it yesterday :')
Hey, dont forget to applause for this masterpiece of art.
My God, I love this game.
Definitely getting this after I'm done with Zelda
@kyleforrester87 @Jake3103 That's my combined playthrough. Took me 40 hours to get to the "true" ending, which included the three runs. I missed some side-quests, though.
Oh, why complain about the battle gameplay Sammy?
I leave one video here to show how the battle capable of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxHlcrRfO78
it's really has depth.
@Sevenifity I didn't complain, I just said it's not as rich as Bayonetta or Devil May Cry, which is true.
@get2sammyb Of those three play throughs, how much of it is "the same"... Are we talking drastic differences such as entirely new locations/characters etc?
@get2sammyb Ah yes, I understand. Oh anyway, it has counter system they implemented on Metal Gear Rising too.
@kyleforrester87 Locations are generally the same. Characters/story/cut-scenes/gameplay are mostly different.
I was using headset and online at the last ending credits, it may a coincidence, but if I didnt, i will regret it so bad....
@get2sammyb To get the best ending you just have replay it in new game+? Can I miss the best ending or is it automaticly given after replaying the game?
@wiiware The way the game's setup you won't miss anything. You may have to go backwards and replay bits, but I can confirm you can do everything on one save.
@get2sammyb Why this review sounds so shady? hahahahaha
@Frank90 How do you mean?
It took too long, but the Japanese developers finally showed up to play on PS4 and the result has been one of the greatest starts to a year, ever. People in the West need to get their heads out of their uptight, overly sensitive asses and start giving these games a try and stop discouraging Japanese developers just because of some cultural differences.
"Perhaps it's unreasonable to ask you to grind through over 30 hours of gameplay to get to the best bits;"
Thanks for the Final Fantasy 13 flashback. I need a drink now.
@get2sammyb "well, the third... It's something else!", "can't even talk about two-thirds of it", " we can't really elaborate on why that is, you're just going to have to trust us"! Everything screams shady! Even this game seems kind of shady too. And I really like the sound of the word shady!
@Frank90 Haha, soon everyone will see the light!
@RedMageLanakyn Haha, don't worry, the opening portion of this is miles better than FF13.
This is one good looking title that I will sadly not be playing ...too many must-play titles coming out or already released. PlayStation's 2017 is insane!
@get2sammyb just wanted to say thanks for removing the score from the top of the review, I much prefer to read the write up before knowing. Always felt it spoilt things a little. Also saw this on other ones too- is this going to continue for all new reviews?
And top review as always.
@Mergatro1d Not actually sure what you're referring to?
@get2sammyb under the game rating 'our review' used to give the score but now says "scroll down"
@get2sammyb At the top portion there's no score, it says "scroll down " i noticed it the other day too. Is that not intentional?
Was expecting a 9 from you, since you were so hyped for this and I see so many good reviews! I was guessing, ofc xD
but anyway, seems that this game is good and I'm the only one not even hyped a bit
@RedMageLanakyn @Mergatro1d So it does!
Wow, really didn't expect that in the review but it definitely amps up my interest in the game knowing how much it changes as you play through it a second and third time. Just so frustrating that Breath of the Wild, Horizon, Dark Souls 3 DLC, Mass Effect Andromeda, Persona 5 and Nier all launch so close together! Will probably be the summer by the time I get round to this, but I really am looking forward to it.
2017 the year of too many games not enough time/money.
@get2sammyb what's the install size?
This year is ridiculous so far, I'm still working my way through Horizon and now this and Persona 5 on the hori....... yeah I just haven't got the time
Nice. Sounds good then. It sucks that it has performance issues, but I suppose I can deal with that since this game looks pretty good. I've been pretty hyped about it myself. I wanna play as 2B!
@get2sammyb thanks for clarifying that sounds way better!
@Splat Yeah! I'm actually overwhelmed by the quantity of quality games!
Here is a video to show you just some of the depth to the combat system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0203jbYU0TI remember your supposed to switch weapons mid combo to create bigger combos, each weapon depending in which hand its in has its own move set also.
It also has something like 7 different endings so it definitely has replayability, cannot wait to pick it up friday. I'll be finishing Horizon first before starting a play through.
@get2sammyb Nice, ok thanks for the answer. I think I'll buy this after finishing transformer devastation.
Nice review, I cant believe you've pumped over 100 hours into this. Great stuff Sammy.
So many games worth playing atm. This really is the best year yet for PlayStation. my only worry is that games like this and gravity rush will fall through the cracks!
2017 has been fantastic so far! Resi 7, NieR, Zelda, Nioh, Yakuza 0, Horizon and probably a lot more I'm forgetting just in three months.
@KAPADO I think it's 45GB, so pretty big.
@themcnoisy To be clear, 40 hours is for all endings, not a single run.
@b1ackjack_ps It's weird as hell. The full game is not really like the intro. Hmm, what can I say without spoiling it? The game dabbles in black humour quite a lot, but it's equally capable of being quite sombre.
It's so much more than you think it is. Honestly, even up until the third playthrough I wasn't really that keen on it, but it comes together brilliantly.
There are... Multiple characters. I don't really want to say because it would spoil it, but if you really want to know you can find out on Google quite easily.
@hadlee73 Yeah, I could do. Maybe, will think about it.
my next buy after i clock horizon!
My copy should be here by friday the bullet hell element of this and Nier set my brain on fire.
@bbtothe The great games keep coming!
Probably not my type of game, I just don't think I could play through multiple times to get the best ending BUT I think it is a neat idea and an interesting concept for a game. I have a feeling this game will definitely find its audience.
I can't wait to get home from work today!!
@get2sammyb I really hate JRPGs, but I really like platinum games (bayonetta, transformers devastation, metal gear rising, vanquish in particular), as well as action rpgs like either 3, the souls games, and that.
Am I going to be put off by a load of extraneous "fan service" and squeaky voices? I really want to give this a go but I'm saving for a wedding so can't buy many games.
@THRILLHOU Good news, I hate all of that, too. Erm, I'm not going to lie to you, I really disliked it at first, but it grew on me. If you can force your way past the BS I'm sure you'll end up enjoying it just like I did. But yeah... Not going to lie to you, I was mad early on.
Hmmm... well I'm a stubborn man so I reckon I could well plough through. Yeah, I think this is a definite purchase. Cheers!
I just can't get past the drab look of it all the art style just puts me right off.
This review was not helpful in the least, it seemed more biased and vague more then anything. I got" the game has a few issues but if you stick with it then it gets better but likely one play through and you will put it down" first impressions have a very high impact in the game industry which is why NoManSky happened. This game shouldn't rate at an 8 if it doesn't grab u at all in its first play through issues all included in the package.
atleast recommend picking it up for a cheaper price instead of just jumping in!
@BoltedArc - it is vague in order to avoid spoilers, from what I can gather. As for being biased, I'm not overly sure where you are coming from with that. On a personal note, I'm enjoying it so far, but you can really tell there is much more buried beneath the initial impressions. It would get more of a run if Breath of the Wild hadn't come out at the same time...
Five main endings A B C D E and 21 "joke" endings.
@NimrodsSon I get that he doesn't want to spoil it but it shouldn't be hard to tell me if the game is good or not without spoilers.
The biase I'm getting from the review is based on the score and how the review tells u to stick with it because it gets better but the description given doesn't really say how really! Does the combat evolve dramatically or is more of the same just different areas interest.
Good to hear your enjoying it!
@get2sammyb I just beat the first play through yesterday. I should play multiple times to get through that 180k side quest half witted something and to see more endings right with all my weapons?
@smythelove You should play multiple times, yes.
@get2sammyb thanks that's what the game seemed to message at the end of the credits 😀 I'm moving on to Horizon for now but will come back to it lol I'm determined to get through my backlog
@smythelove You haven't even started NieR yet lol.
@get2sammyb LOL that's what I hear. So, if I want to go back into it, do New Game + and then how do I get to see the additional game? Just play through it again? Do I have to do something special to trigger the extra stuff?
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