Oh… The video game industry will never cease to amaze me. i celebrate it Not even if we’re talking about the remake of a cult or niche game that debuted in Europe in 2010. Those magical moments that we receive through the screen and that lead us to thousands of videos on networks or reading like crazy everything that surrounds this product. It is something that is very rare and deserves a monument, if not in the town square … at least in our memory. Today we talk about NieR Replicant Ver.1.22474487139…
Let’s start at the beginning. NieR Replicant Ver.1.22474487139… is neither a remake nor a remaster. It’s both and neither. Yoko Taro, director of the original NieR as well as Automata, has always been characterized by repeating the loop in his works, and while he doesn’t direct the baton here… he was creative director, leaving us with the first definition of the game . NieR Replicant Ver.1.22474487139 (hereafter NieR) is basically an update (graphical and playable) that in turn will take place in a parallel universe to the one we already know. In other words, it follows in the footsteps of Replicant and Gestalt in 2010. In these two games, practically identical in terms of development, we can see how we will be in a NieR, the dear brother of a poor sick man girls . While we’ll be in the other NieR, father of the same poor girl. Now, while we’ll be the brothers again this time, it seems clear that we won’t be “exactly the same” as the 2010 game. That said, let’s get down to business.
We will begin our story in the near future, in the year two thousand and fifty. We will see a young man fight against a horde of malevolent shadows. All to protect her sister who is visibly ill. This prologue serves as a short but useful and in-depth tutorial. To be an example of contextualizing the leaf, which fits quite nicely that way.
But of course black faded letters with names of famous authors and… first hit. 1,312 years have passed since the prologue. And surprisingly, we see the two brothers again, with slight changes but essentially the same characters. Which appear completely contemporary for the moment in which they live. As soon as we leave the house… the world has changed. We are no longer in a decrepit contemporary world, but it seems that civilization has risen again in a kind of new middle ages. We see ancient mechanisms as well as buildings that would fit perfectly into the 10th century, but which in turn coexist with the metallic remains of a now-extinct society. It’s impressive to see locations that appear to have been taken from Ocarina of Time or Twilight Princess, with ruins of cities or bridges in the background.
The thing is, this is where the game really begins. This is where the story of NieR begins. Or whatever you want to call it, because the first thing we have to do is name our protagonist.
The first few bars of the game will be those of Messenger. We’ll talk to Popola, who will be a recurring character that will set the pace of the adventure. Your missions will be varied, going from less to more. Starting with gathering goat meat. Yes, MMORPG style.
NieR flirts with multiple genres throughout its development, but by and large it’s shaping up to be an action JRPG. Which, in turn, drinks a lot from the classic Zeldas, with its “wink” to Ocarina of Time being particularly notable. In fact, I think NieR could be a Dark Zelda, or at least on paper (wink, wink).
I’m very afraid I won’t be able to speak about the language beyond the game, her taunts in the middle, or how she’s trying to change everything. To talk about it would be to grotesquely and frighteningly disembowel a product that is too good and invites you to tie loose ends yourself.
In NieR, everything becomes mundane. Love that. Our town, the village of “NieR” will be the epicenter of the adventure and we will keep coming back to it. So that it creates its own garden that we can cultivate between mission and mission. Aside from (of course) helping our neighbors on missions that are (mostly) so stupid that even our partner “Weiss” (the spellbook) will ask how absurd it is to waste time on such trifles.
This does a lot, gets ahead of the player, lures you into biting. Before one can criticize, it will be the game itself that will question the ethics of its development. Not just in the messenger missions, but in everything that surrounds him.
It makes me think that NieR is satire perfectly disguised so you can avoid its true meaning and stick with the epic you live. (God, talking without saying anything is exhausting.)
Coming back to the game itself, our mission will be to cure our sister who seems to be suffering from a strange disease that seems to be incurable. We see a small possibility, thanks to a huge character: The Weiss Spellbook. Which, while a bit amnesiac, seems to be the key to saving our sister. Therefore, it will be necessary to help him remember “the words” in order to find salvation.
This leads to a lot of back and forth fighting and fighting wild shadows. Although of course there is also room for other themes: favors, sometimes in the form of side missions and others as the main mission. It will be common to see us involved in couple problems, enforced disappearances, and even “going to town to fuck off to buy me some fine fine fertilizer.” It’s funny how some missions that are so boring and repetitive can create the need to complete them. Not because of the money we get, but because of the satisfaction of helping this little virtual character that manages to matter to the player with less detail than in most titles.
NieR constantly reinvents itself, breaking its own rules on the fly to immerse us in other genres. All this with clear protagonists, like a certain area with fixed cameras in a rather gloomy villa. Where are Jill, Chris and Wesker? Now if we move to extreme action, we can use the devil camera, right? Of course. And this crazy system works. It works perfectly as it’s a piece that brings a robust solidity to its narrative.
But if NieR leaves us anything, it’s its characters. Each of them in constant evolution, as charismatic as few others and of course with an outstanding design. I have to say that at first it pissed me off to see a character like Kainé, who is the best of the best, totally sexualized, on a pathological level… but of course… it shouldn’t be for nothing. Truth?
On the other hand we have Emil, an amazing character, not only because of his design, which again is a marvel of art. But given his background, his shady history, as well as his own struggles… goosebumps. I could continue with NieR itself, the hero by definition, and move on to Weiss or poor Yonah…but no. Just remember that it has the deepest character development I’ve ever experienced. This is due to his writing style and his convoluted way of telling the story. The game works like those “rare” products that are so popular. That is, in the pocket of Undertale… or series like Twin Peaks.
Not everything is wonderful in the world of NieR. On the contrary, I’ve oddly exploited one of its flaws here to praise it. But it’s inevitable that I see this release as an opportunity, a bit lost. The game works flawlessly in 2021, but while it’s had a bit of a retouch here and there (especially graphically), I think a little more could have been done to bring some minor things that don’t matter in the game into line with today’s message. Like the fight that, without being bad, doesn’t invite you to spend hours and hours on it. Or of course the level design, which, without being bad, isn’t particularly good either.
The game abuses repetition, it does so by constantly traveling to its few locations, where it presents us with challenges that are rarely justified given the fatigue of travel. But his final message… can do everything and more.
NieR is not a game that ends when the credits roll after twenty hours of play. Here they will “subtly” ask us to come back again and again and again. Each return to his story, new details, new endings, new ways of facing reality are revealed. As said, you can continue the hero’s journey and turn off the console after completing it the first time. But… if you embark on a second journey, you will get lost there.
If anything needs to be raised to the game’s “excellence” level, it’s its story. Not only the ones we see, but also the ones half hidden. But I wouldn’t want to miss its soundtrack. is magic. You will walk the same streets many times and it will be inevitable to form smiles and feel full emotions listening to this song that accompanies the area. And that’s actually going through my head as I write these lines.
NieR is a niche game. An ever expanding niche and ready to be played by anyone who wanted to give it a shot. Whether you are one of those who are forever trapped in it or one of those who just walked by and that’s it. I highly doubt NieR will pass for just another game in your collection.
A timeless work that deserves to be played and repeated.