A blog as confusing and long-winded as Nier (SPOILERS)

I haven't finished Nier, but I've played enough to know that I still truly don't know what to think about it. It's a game that evokes wildly differing emotions, depending on what you're doing at the time. Sometimes, it's the most generic, run-of-the-mill title you've ever popped into the console of your choice. But with the acceptance of a single mission Nier can flip and turn into the most bafflingly interesting experience, if only in short bursts.

There are a lot of other games where you can noodle about and do mini-quests that have nothing to do with the main story; these menial tasks are usually the thing you do to fill in time between bouts of playing the "real" game. In the earlier stages of Nier, however, I had the realisation the opposite was true. It felt like I was only occasionally dipping into the main game and casually killing a boss when I felt like taking a break from all the questing.

It's not like the quests are anything special, mind. In fact, most of them are downright dull. They're usually very uninspired rinky-dink activities such as fishing or retrieving an item from a location (and there's no fast travel at first). And some of these fetch quests require you put in a lot of work to find the multitude of items required. So why am I so invested in them? Well, like Mr Vinny Caravella, I've got that weird need to do every-fucking-thing.

There are aspects of Nier that I genuinely enjoy, though, and the first I'll mention is going to sound like the faintest praise: it's like a PlayStation 2 game. It looks like one, and it plays like one. It reminds me of early PS2 titles like Summoner or Smuggler's Run (bear with me) that felt a bit sparse, and you could tell people were still getting to grips with the technology, but you could also still see what the developer was trying to do and you went with it. Some of this PS2 feeling is obvious just from looking at it – the graphics aren't sock-knock-offingly good by any stretch – but for me a fair bit of it is just that intangible feeling some games give.

Shit Fuck Fuck Shit Tits Arse Motherfucking Bitch Shit Fucker Edgy

The other reason it reminds me of a PlayStation 2 title is that a lot of the game's trappings flat out remind me of Ico. The languid pacing in places, the rolling green hills peppered with ramshackle architecture from a future past, the black shadowy enemies that attack you en masse... hell, you even have a female companion with elfin features and silver hair. Granted, this one is slightly different (read: totally the opposite) because she constantly curses in a jarring and forced way, but the comparison's there to be made nonetheless.

I also like the music in Nier. It's all pretty much the same theme presented in different ways, and some of the loops aren't as long as others, but I find it really pleasant and perfectly suited to adventuring your way through a fantasy setting. The female vocals are quite nice, too, and I'll probably investigate getting hold of the soundtrack in some format or another at some point in the near (dammit) future.

Okay, so far all of that doesn't make Nier sound as strange as I'd made out. Well, I'm about to change that. I'll begin gently, with more of a "huh" revelation.

PEW x 134

Nier occasionally strays into bullet hell territory. Bosses and even lesser enemies can start hurling dozens upon dozens of large crimson spheres that form interesting, almost hypnotic matrices as they fly towards you. And here's where Nier gives you the first inkling that, for better or worse, it doesn't know what to do with itself: sometimes the bullet hell action takes the form of a top-down twin stick shooter. Yup, that's right. And it's useless trying to expand upon that point because I can neither refine it to a simpler explanation nor adequately inform you, dear reader, of the context that it exists in.

Now, I'm really about to enter spoiler territory here, so don your best Peril Sensitive Glasses if you're thinking of playing Nier. Or maybe just close this window/tab. Y'know, if you don't have your Peril Sensitive Glasses handy.

The first moment I really couldn't come to grips with what I was playing comes when you take on a mission that your character's daughter asks you to embark on. A boy she is pen pals with sounds like he needs help, and you've got to travel to his mansion to see if you can offer any assistance. When you enter the mansion, NIER TURNS INTO A RESIDENT EVIL CLONE. I don't mean it feels like a Resident Evil game with a different coat of paint. Nope, I mean you enter a main entrance area with stairs that looks just like the first game in the Resident Evil franchise. And you go into a long dining room with a fireplace at the end and a doorway in the far right corner. And you collect keys with moons and stars on them to open doors with moons and stars on them. And you fight giant spiders in hallways with incredibly familiar wallpaper. And you find a room where a piano is being played. And... well, you get the idea.

You were almost a Nier sandwich! Ha ha ha.

For the next half hour or so, I don't doubt my girlfriend (who was playing the wonderful Super Scribblenauts on the couch beside me) couldn't understand the mystified and confused noises I was making while playing through this section. I just couldn't grasp why I had suddenly been thrown into a lampoon of video games, a la Eat Lead, where everything leading up to this had been relatively serious. I mean, Nier has actually has a nice, gentle sense of humour running throughout, but nothing that would foreshadow this sudden and blatant spoof of the survival horror genre.

This Resident Evil "tribute" continues when you go into the complex hidden beneath the mansion where (you guessed it) scientific bio-experiments have been conducted in the past. But wait! Nier's got this mission's second curveball, because you and your companion will now travel through the multitude of steely subterranean rooms in... a long-shot-not-quite-top-down dungeon crawler! Only without all the cool loot!

So through this and other shifts in gameplay style ( text adventure, anyone?) Neir officially has me intrigued, even hooked. But the thing is that although these bits are great, they ultimately only serve to fracture the focus of the game. Basically, Nier feels less than the sum of its parts; that some of those parts can be bloody fascinating only serves to make the emotional schism I feel towards this game even deeper and wider.

38 Comments
39 Comments
Posted by buzz_clik

I haven't finished Nier, but I've played enough to know that I still truly don't know what to think about it. It's a game that evokes wildly differing emotions, depending on what you're doing at the time. Sometimes, it's the most generic, run-of-the-mill title you've ever popped into the console of your choice. But with the acceptance of a single mission Nier can flip and turn into the most bafflingly interesting experience, if only in short bursts.

There are a lot of other games where you can noodle about and do mini-quests that have nothing to do with the main story; these menial tasks are usually the thing you do to fill in time between bouts of playing the "real" game. In the earlier stages of Nier, however, I had the realisation the opposite was true. It felt like I was only occasionally dipping into the main game and casually killing a boss when I felt like taking a break from all the questing.

It's not like the quests are anything special, mind. In fact, most of them are downright dull. They're usually very uninspired rinky-dink activities such as fishing or retrieving an item from a location (and there's no fast travel at first). And some of these fetch quests require you put in a lot of work to find the multitude of items required. So why am I so invested in them? Well, like Mr Vinny Caravella, I've got that weird need to do every-fucking-thing.

There are aspects of Nier that I genuinely enjoy, though, and the first I'll mention is going to sound like the faintest praise: it's like a PlayStation 2 game. It looks like one, and it plays like one. It reminds me of early PS2 titles like Summoner or Smuggler's Run (bear with me) that felt a bit sparse, and you could tell people were still getting to grips with the technology, but you could also still see what the developer was trying to do and you went with it. Some of this PS2 feeling is obvious just from looking at it – the graphics aren't sock-knock-offingly good by any stretch – but for me a fair bit of it is just that intangible feeling some games give.

Shit Fuck Fuck Shit Tits Arse Motherfucking Bitch Shit Fucker Edgy

The other reason it reminds me of a PlayStation 2 title is that a lot of the game's trappings flat out remind me of Ico. The languid pacing in places, the rolling green hills peppered with ramshackle architecture from a future past, the black shadowy enemies that attack you en masse... hell, you even have a female companion with elfin features and silver hair. Granted, this one is slightly different (read: totally the opposite) because she constantly curses in a jarring and forced way, but the comparison's there to be made nonetheless.

I also like the music in Nier. It's all pretty much the same theme presented in different ways, and some of the loops aren't as long as others, but I find it really pleasant and perfectly suited to adventuring your way through a fantasy setting. The female vocals are quite nice, too, and I'll probably investigate getting hold of the soundtrack in some format or another at some point in the near (dammit) future.

Okay, so far all of that doesn't make Nier sound as strange as I'd made out. Well, I'm about to change that. I'll begin gently, with more of a "huh" revelation.

PEW x 134

Nier occasionally strays into bullet hell territory. Bosses and even lesser enemies can start hurling dozens upon dozens of large crimson spheres that form interesting, almost hypnotic matrices as they fly towards you. And here's where Nier gives you the first inkling that, for better or worse, it doesn't know what to do with itself: sometimes the bullet hell action takes the form of a top-down twin stick shooter. Yup, that's right. And it's useless trying to expand upon that point because I can neither refine it to a simpler explanation nor adequately inform you, dear reader, of the context that it exists in.

Now, I'm really about to enter spoiler territory here, so don your best Peril Sensitive Glasses if you're thinking of playing Nier. Or maybe just close this window/tab. Y'know, if you don't have your Peril Sensitive Glasses handy.

The first moment I really couldn't come to grips with what I was playing comes when you take on a mission that your character's daughter asks you to embark on. A boy she is pen pals with sounds like he needs help, and you've got to travel to his mansion to see if you can offer any assistance. When you enter the mansion, NIER TURNS INTO A RESIDENT EVIL CLONE. I don't mean it feels like a Resident Evil game with a different coat of paint. Nope, I mean you enter a main entrance area with stairs that looks just like the first game in the Resident Evil franchise. And you go into a long dining room with a fireplace at the end and a doorway in the far right corner. And you collect keys with moons and stars on them to open doors with moons and stars on them. And you fight giant spiders in hallways with incredibly familiar wallpaper. And you find a room where a piano is being played. And... well, you get the idea.

You were almost a Nier sandwich! Ha ha ha.

For the next half hour or so, I don't doubt my girlfriend (who was playing the wonderful Super Scribblenauts on the couch beside me) couldn't understand the mystified and confused noises I was making while playing through this section. I just couldn't grasp why I had suddenly been thrown into a lampoon of video games, a la Eat Lead, where everything leading up to this had been relatively serious. I mean, Nier has actually has a nice, gentle sense of humour running throughout, but nothing that would foreshadow this sudden and blatant spoof of the survival horror genre.

This Resident Evil "tribute" continues when you go into the complex hidden beneath the mansion where (you guessed it) scientific bio-experiments have been conducted in the past. But wait! Nier's got this mission's second curveball, because you and your companion will now travel through the multitude of steely subterranean rooms in... a long-shot-not-quite-top-down dungeon crawler! Only without all the cool loot!

So through this and other shifts in gameplay style ( text adventure, anyone?) Neir officially has me intrigued, even hooked. But the thing is that although these bits are great, they ultimately only serve to fracture the focus of the game. Basically, Nier feels less than the sum of its parts; that some of those parts can be bloody fascinating only serves to make the emotional schism I feel towards this game even deeper and wider.

Moderator
Edited by Hailinel

You'd curse as much as Kaine if a demon made you a hermaphrodite. :P

Posted by FancySoapsMan

Yeah, Nier is a fucking weird game.

Posted by buzz_clik
@FancySoapsMan: See, I should have just typed exactly that and hit Post Blog.
Moderator
Posted by Shirogane
@Hailinel said:


                    You'd curse as much as Kaine if a demon made you a hermaphrodite. :P

                   

               

No, from what i know, Kaine was always like that, all the demon did was make her insanely powerful and practically immortal.
Edited by Enigma777

The Nier soundtrack is really good. Everything else... not so much. 

Posted by xaLieNxGrEyx

Nier is one of the greatest games I've ever played
Posted by buzz_clik
@Enigma777 said:
The Nier soundtrack is really good. Everything else... not so much. 
I just went and made a cup of coffee after posting this blog and was totally humming one of the tunes from Nier as I did so.
Moderator
Posted by Beforet
@Hailinel said:
You'd curse as much as Kaine if a demon made you a hermaphrodite. :P
That was a preexisting condition!

@buzz_clik: Nier's awesome, but here's the thing you must realize: Cavia hates you. I mean you, personally, buzz_clik. And me. And everyone else compelled to get that 100%. That's what the quests are. They're punishment, for us. Cavia wants us to stop hurting ourselves, by hurting us even more. It's a strange strategy, I know. The reason for the Resident Evil bit is that Cavia has made a Resident Evil game in the past ( Dead Aim). Also, Kaine is amazing, and is oddly one of the better female characters in a JRPG. You will come to understand her swearing and general bitchiness, just make sure you play the New Game+. And get all four endings. You have not completed the game until you have gotten all of the endings.
Posted by Hailinel
@Shirogane: @Beforet:  I stand corrected!
Edited by Rudeboy217

I just beat Nier twice today. 
I loved the soundtrack. Unfortunately the game got pretty monotonous.
Also the straight up Zelda reference was fucking weird,

Posted by buzz_clik
@Beforet: I had a hunch those quests were there to torment me deliberately. Ugh. It hurts me to see one Quest listed as uncompletable.

I don't mind the character of Kainé as a whole, but I just find the swearing to be as out of place in this fantasy world as someone saying "'sup?" when I press B to talk to them, or "September 11" appearing as one of the dates of the loading screen diary entires.

And to further illustrate the strange range of emotions Nier stirs in me, I was kind of hoping there was a New Game+ option at the end of the game. So you've come bearing good news on that front. The bad news? I'll lose a lot of sleep to getting all of the endings. Curse you.
Moderator
Posted by Rudeboy217
@buzz_clik: After reading this I have decided to hate myself a little more and get ending C and D.
Edited by Beforet
@buzz_clik said:

@Beforet: I had a hunch those quests were there to torment me deliberately. Ugh. It hurts me to see one Quest listed as uncompletable.I don't mind the character of Kainé as a whole, but I just find the swearing to be as out of place in this fantasy world as someone saying "'sup?" when I press B to talk to them, or "September 11" appearing as one of the dates of the loading screen diary entires.And to further illustrate the strange range of emotions Nier stirs in me, I was kind of hoping there was a New Game+ option at the end of the game. So you've come bearing good news on that front. The bad news? I'll lose a lot of sleep to getting all of the endings. Curse you.

Don't worry, the New Game+ stuff does not take long. You don't start from the beginning and the game is really short when you're critical pathing it. I mean eight hours, and that's watching all of the cutscenes (which you can skip).

As for the fantasy world stuff, it's complicated. There is a whole complex back story to this game which is rarely delved into in-game and is mostly only available in a strategy guide sold only in Japan. Which is too bad because it's some kick ass stuff which could have been made into a cool series of games on its own had Cavia not died. Basically, Nier takes place on Earth, that is to say our Earth. The magic everywhere is what messed things up.
Posted by buzz_clik
@rudeboy217: So you're on the same page as me on whether or not you like Nier then. Good to know it's not just me.
Moderator
Posted by buzz_clik
@Beforet said:
As for the fantasy world stuff, it's complicated. There is a whole complex back story to this game which is rarely delved into in-game and is mostly only available in a strategy guide sold only in Japan. Which is too bad because it's some kick ass stuff which could have been made into a cool series of games on its own had Cavia not died. Basically, Nier takes place on Earth, that is to say our Earth. The magic everywhere is what messed things up.
Oh, cool, thanks for clearing that up. I've kinda felt the whole time like they were trying to say indirectly that this was indeed Earth, but it still didn't sit completely well with me. Maybe it's because they dance around it and there's a sort-of anachronistic feel to everything, but it was always in the back of my mind and that not knowing was probably keeping me a little off-balance.
Moderator
Posted by Rudeboy217
@buzz_clik: Yeah, for some reason I am compelled to go back. I am even putting L.A. Noire on hold for some more time with Nier.
Oh, also I heard the game deletes all your data after you beat ending D, which makes the game even more bat-shit insane.
Posted by Beforet

Aaaand you spoiled it. Awesome.

But yeah, that prologue took place in Tokyo, if that clears things up for you.

Posted by buzz_clik
@Beforet said:
Aaaand you spoiled it. Awesome.
You mean the Ending D thing is true? Awww, bummer. I mean, it's not a bummer that it actually does it, but I think I would have lost my shit laughing if I'd had that happen without warning. I do love a good practical joke, even at my expense.
Moderator
Posted by Rudeboy217

Well fuck me..

Posted by Beforet

Aaaand I spoiled it by announcing the spoiler. I feel shitty. It's pretty well telegraphed, it's not like it happens suddenly without you realizing it. You still don't know the context, so you should be okay.

Posted by vidiot
Posted by RagingLion

From an article I read on this game I get the impression that the best of the strangeness is yet to come.

Posted by Tebbit

I'd call it a Neir miss.

Posted by craigbo180
@buzz_clik said:
 Some of this PS2 feeling is obvious just from looking at it – the graphics aren't sock-knock-offingly good by any stretch – but for me a fair bit of it is just that intangible feeling some games give.
I vote for sock-knock-offingly good to be the new official standard by which all games are judged.
Posted by Shirogane
@buzz_clik said:


                    @Beforet said:

                Aaaand you spoiled it. Awesome.
           
You mean the Ending D thing is true? Awww, bummer. I mean, it's not a bummer that it actually does it, but I think I would have lost my shit laughing if I'd had that happen without warning. I do love a good practical joke, even at my expense.

                   

               


Oh it totally warns you, like 5 times.

Then it goes through and SLOWLY deletes everything in your logs and stuff, and then each save, one by one.

Posted by SMTDante89

Going into slight spoiler territory here, so here comes the spoiler tag!

Posted by SlightConfuse

Now i want to play this game even more

Posted by Mento

I liked Nier. It was pleasant weird, unlike Drakengard, which was unpleasant weird. Sucks Cavia finally died after Nier was finished.

Like others here, I'd at least recommend the second playthrough. It doesn't take as long as reaching the third and fourth endings do (which actually require some 100%-ing to an extent) and every boss fight takes an insane twist. As someone else said, make sure you've done everything you wanted to do if you take the fourth (and very final) ending.

Moderator
Edited by Rudeboy217

SO i just finished ending C and D this morning and I still plan to restart the game one more time to get the remaining achievements. Also I noticed there is one DLC pack for this game. Does anyone know if it worth buying?

Posted by Monk
Posted by Beforet
@rudeboy217 said:
SO i just finished ending C and D this morning and I still plan to restart the game one more time to get the remaining achievements. Also I noticed there is one DLC pack for this game. Does anyone know if it worth buying?
It makes some of the achievements easier to get (it provides a spot of grind rare items) so I would get it just for that if you're dead set on S-ranking it. Otherwise it's just pure combat.

I would also advise anyone to not reading Grimoire Nier until after having completed at least the B ending.
Posted by Jeust

I think you broke some kind of record with so much cursing in a caption. ^^

Posted by bonbolapti

I know I could half just come here and talk about how Nier was my GOTY. It really did a lot of things that captured my attention, The characters are incredibly well written. and the Dialogues they share are funny and human.

sure it's very much a PS2 game in a lot of ways, but even though it feels awful generic, it can give you a powerful experience if you choose not to dismiss it. and continue on to the New game plus to get even more out of it the next time around.

Augh, this game makes me happy, and I get even happier when other people play it :D

Posted by xyzygy

I love the tone of this game. So dark and depressing.

Posted by rubberluffy

Nier definitely became one of my favorite games ever.  Not enough to 100% it though, because I know Cavia hates people who like to do that.  Also, The Dark Id's LP of Nier really helped me to understand a lot of what was going on.  He also did some updates about Grimoire Nier, the strategy guide/art/backstory book.  It is a real shame Cavia isn't around anymore, because there's a few games worth of backstory in Grimoire Nier.

The game definitely has one of the best soundtracks and some of the best voicework in a game I've heard.  The writing and characterizations are very strong too.

Just remember, Cavia hates you, but not as much as they hate children.

Edited by buzz_clik

Well, I finished Nier in the early hours of this morning, and even started through the next run where...


I'm actually already very interested by how the New Game+ option(s) is handled. It seems like a very cool take on the idea, and that it offers some pretty good replayability. It's even nice that you're not dumped right back at the start for your second time.
Moderator
Posted by Bruce

I always wanted to play those sorts of Playstation 2 games. Never got the chance to, though.

Posted by procrasturbate

Damn, i think i need this!!