I apologize because this article will likely lack coherency, but I am in love with Nier Automata. It is everything I wanted it to be and more. I wanted a game that evokes that same comforting feeling when I play a PS2 JRPG. I wanted a good Platinum Game with stylish, character-action combat. I wanted all of those things, but I was never able to scratch that itch.
Nier Automata has reminded me why I love video games. It is a game that is good for art’s sake. It does not have any shady industry practices linked to it, no season pass garbage, not even a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign. No, I love what Nier Automata represents: it shows that making a great, quality game can sell itself. This game had very little marketing, aside from a presentation at E3 2015. But that presentation was likely a courtesy, as Square Enix had the Nier franchise, but they had not done anything with it for five years.
Plus there was all the coverage on the main character’s butt:
No, I am not making this up. There was a big controversy over the main character, 2B’s butt, being too present. But you might look at this and go “oh, well she has a skirt on so at least she is covering it somewhat.” To which I say, if you play Nier Automata, her butt will follow you everywhere. If you run, the camera will align so you get a shot of her butt. If you climb a latter, the camera inches so slightly so you can see up her skirt. Does this sound somewhat skimpy and low-brow? Maybe it is, but I jut see it as ridiculous, and that is what Nier Automata really is. It is a ridiculous game with a really good story and really good gameplay.
Furthermore, Nier Automata repels all of modern mainstream gaming’s issues and delivers an incredibly solid experience instead. There is no online multiplayer shoehorned in at the expense of the main game, there is no edgy M-rated advertising campaign that attempts to make the series grimdark. Nier Automata has its own identity and that is incredibly admirable. In a gaming market that is terrified of change and the strange, it is great to see a game like Nier Automata ship 1 million copies. Furthermore, 1 million copies of a game is a profit and a major success for the company. It shows that just throwing money at a game, giving it the prettiest graphics, the nicest advertising, and charging people extra for DLC does not always work. In fact, these shady business practices often sully a person’s outlook on a game. If you analyze the most revered video game’s of this generation, they were mostly absolved from these shady business practices. Overwatch, Witcher 3, Bloodborne, Uncharted 4, Breath of the Wild, and Nier Automata kept their DLC and Season Passes as a bonus, not as necessary to the main course. These are quality games that people talk about and remember. These are games that strum up discussion about what they represent. These are games that were not killed by the toxic video game industry.
They key ingredient these incredibly special games have, is passion. They have passionate developers and teams who made the best product that they could. Nier Automata is a beautiful game with a small budget, but it still sold well. Bloodborne has a lovingly crafted world, Witcher 3 has oodles of great content, Overwatch is a crack substitute, Breath of the Wild is one of the best games ever, and Uncharted 4 revolutionized facial technology. These games were all made by a passionate team who understood how games work, and how their quality can do a lot of selling.
But Nier Automata is an anomaly because these other games had mass appeal or previously installed fanbases. The original Nier, according to VGChartz, only sold 900k copies in its entire lifespan, and Nier Automata has already surpassed that in a month. The Nier fan base is fiercely loyal to an excellent, but flawed, game, and using that small passion, Square Enix was able to make a success out of this game. It honestly feels like Nier Automata is a weird, experimental indie game given millions of dollars.
But what I enjoy the most, and these are the most innocuous things, are the music and the voice acting. All of the voice actors are from JRPG’s that I love. 2B is Mitsuru from Persona 3, 9S is Yosuke from Persona 4. It’s drenched in my favourite tropes and storytelling methods. And the choirs and bombastic chants in the Soundtrack are my Achilles heel. I don’t care if a soundtrack is bad if there is a choir, it hooks me in. I have the hardest bias towards unnecessarily epic songs. These songs follow you everywhere in Nier and I love every second of it. If I am not fully engrossed in a game, I usually listen t a podcast or some other music while I play, but I want to give Nier Automata my full attention.
Anyways, buy this beautiful, japanese anomaly of a game. You will not regret it one bit.