Rapid Fire- Nier

The crew of lovables star in Nier for the Xbox 360/PS3

You know the old saying: Don't judge a book by its cover. However it is nonetheless difficult to have a good impression of the game Nier when you first see footage of it. The graphics look very dated, with texture fitting more for a Playstation game than a contemporary XBox 360 game. But here are some reasons why you should give this seemingly old-looking game a good hard look.

The story of the game is about a father trying to free her daughter from an incurable disease. In the father's quest he manages to run into some colorful characters to help him in the journey, from the foul-mouthed Kaine to the snooty Weiss. Before you know it, once the band assembles it acquires the type of narrative chemistry that makes you forget about the story and focus rather on the characters themselves. Furthermore, the story gets much better as the game progresses, so in short Nier's story is a strong point of the game.

The gameplay is itself... kinda weird. You really have to actually play the thing to get what I mean when I say that Nier is a multi-genre type of experience. It is mostly an action RPG that has the basics down, with your character (the father) capable of wielding various weapons and dark attack spells from Weiss. One problem is that the fighting feels a bit unwieldy because of a lock-on system (Then again, maybe it's intentionally set up this way). You have various side-quests to tackle like most RPGs again, but then in combat enemies release a bunch of bullets, giving you a sense that you are playing a 3D shoot-em-up. Add in several fishing, gardening, even a text-based games, and you have a gamut of genres through your 24 or so hours in your first playthrough. Keep in mind that there are various endings, so no doubt there is potential to add on to the game's replay value.

But what I really want to talk about Nier has to do with the music. Listen.

Just. Listen.

Though it may look dated, Nier's story and music are lightyears ahead of its peers.

There is not much I can say other than fact that Nier probably has the best soundtrack I have been around period. These tunes make you feel so excited in an upcoming boss battle. It also can recede to accommodate more reflective, sadder moments. In short the music can generate all parts of the emotional spectrum, is pleasant to the ear, and is the game's best asset. I also want to give a shout-out to the voice acting. Everyone is expressive without overdoing it. I usually cringe when characters are given very obvious accents, but Grimoire Weiss' arrogant tone is a plus to the game, not a minus. Credit to Liam O'Brien for his voice acting work on Weiss.

Putting everything I have said together, Nier does not have the best gameplay, and its graphics are worse. That being said there are very few games that can better its story, characters and music. Those qualities alone are enough for me to say "Buy this one". Bring out the tissue boxes, because you are going to need it.

Bullet hell and action-RPG blended into one. An interesting combo to say the least.

I give Nier: Gestault 4 stars out of 5.

Very Nier to my heart, you are.

28 Comments
28 Comments
Posted by ESREVER

Nier's OST is one of the best for sure. In fact, the most exciting thing to me about the recent Dakengard 3 announcement, is the fact that the same sound guy from Nier is back on. Sooo, incoming amazing soundtrack for that game.

Posted by Vortextk

Soundtrack is best in class. Story was different, inventive and moving. Characters were voiced well and given emotion. Setting was strange and daring.

Gameplay was varied and at times surprising, but average. Graphics were at best artistic and rough, at worst muddy and old. Side content was sometimes a great short story in the world, but almost always worthless filler for money/xp. Backtracking was at times killer.

It had minuses but I freaking loved this game.

It's been awhile since I read up on it, but the composer was apparently given years and a LOT of freedom to do what he did. It shows.

Edited by ThunderSlash

I didn't find the story as moving as others did. The melodrama was laid on a bit thick at times (I recall a certain part of the game that had sad scene after sad scene after sad scene). But god damn was Ending D great. Also, Shadowlord is my favorite song in the game (it was used really well in the game too).

Edited by automatontribe

I have always been sort of curious about this game but reading about how the main character was changed just because the developers thought that would appeal more to a western audiance has always pushed me away for some reason.

Edited by FourWude

Emil...

And Kaine with her penis.

Posted by Animasta

I have always been sort of curious about this game but reading about how the main character was changed just because the developers thought that would appeal more to a western audiance has always pushed me away for some reason.

well considering he's a way better character because of this fact (brother Nier is whiny and lame), don't let it hang you up.

nier is my favoritest game ever and it deserves more people playing it so play it if it interests you

Edited by EXTomar

@fourwude said:

Emil...

And Kaine with her penis.

SPOILERS!! (jk, the Brad Spoiler thread did it)

Nier is one of those games that I feel is a prime example of the spirit of Japanese experimentalism. It is really a distinct, extraordinarily dark game that demands to be played. It tries so many things, some of it worked and some of it didn't, but too bad others didn't feel that way and this game sunk Cavia. Back to the Monster Hunter clones I guess.

Posted by RayCarter

@automatontribe: I don't play Nier: Replicant (the game with the younger protagonist) because a) I don't have a PS3 and b) it is in Japanese and I can't read it. That being said the main character for the Western version is actually good. He looks brutish but at the same time is wise beyond his years and very mature for an adult character. That being said he is fallible, he argues with his colleagues, and that makes him even more intruiging as a character. In short don't let the "character change" deter you, as @animasta also noted.

Posted by RayCarter

By the way I would like to thank you all for commenting on this post and discussing Nier; it is a very interesting game to say the least. I hope that I can do more Rapid Fire Reviews in the near future. Cheers, RC

@extomar: @animasta: @fourwude: @esrever: @vortextk: @thunderslash:

Edited by Animasta

@raycarter: by the way, you should also... look at drakengard. That was made by much of the same team, as is Drakengard 3 (which was just announced a couple days ago).

I mean, that shit goes in a way way WAAAAAAY different direction than Nier does, but the one way it is similar is that they're both extremely interesting.

Also Drakengard ending E leads into Nier. And ending E is the most insane ending.

Posted by RayCarter

@animasta: Thank you for the suggestion. Unfortunately I do not have a PS3 at the moment so I would not be able to play Drakengard 3 (or any Drakengards for that matter). But judging by your comments and a quick skim on the wikipedia pages it looks like a very interesting franchise.

Edited by Flappy

Anyone that likes NIER is a cool person in my eyes. I'm glad you liked it.

Posted by Vortextk

I have always been sort of curious about this game but reading about how the main character was changed just because the developers thought that would appeal more to a western audiance has always pushed me away for some reason.

The character was never changed in that sense exactly. The younger brother may have been thought of first, but old father Nier was the first to put to graphics. In reality, it was more of old man wouldn't fit japanese tastes than young man wouldn't fit ours. And honestly I find he's he much more interesting protagonist looking from outside of the box and was a lot more fun to play as. There's a lot more facts that I don't remember because it's been awhile since I played nier. Beat it for all endings right after release.

I always wanted to play drakengard 1. I played 2 first and while people feel it was worse with the story telling/characters, the game just felt better than 1 and it was hard for me to get into it when I tried. 2 could get fairly fucked up at times and while I know when I finally see it again the aged graphics will have killed my nostalgia, there was an amazing looking boss fight in the middle of a platform covered in flowers I really really loved at the time.

Edited by Slag

@raycarter: Hey ray!

I haven't played Nier, it's been on the to acquire list for a good while although others are ahead of it so it may be one I never get to.

I did however play the heck out of Drakengard 1. Holy heck was that story and atmosphere so incredibly dark and hopeless. That game really really upset me in places!

And while I really liked the game enough to unlock every ending (including, which is it, E I want to say, that leads into this game), the combat's lack of depth really killed my desire to play any more of those games. I still have Drakengard 2 sitting on my shelf unopened.

To me the Drakengard combat seemed like a really dark version of Dynasty Warriors. I basically mashed Square with the occasional Triangle for thirty hours. I don't think my thumb ever has hurt as much from a console game. Frankly it got a bit boring.

I know you said the combat is hard to describe, but do you think you could maybe elaborate on it a bit further? I'm curious to know if they mixed it up a bit more so perhaps it is not as dull.

As much as I like the fictional universe I don't how excited I am to mash Square for another 30 hours to see it through.

Posted by Vortextk

Nier does not play like drakengard in that dynasty warriors feel. I mean, these are both third person games with weapons and combat. However nier is more from a gow-lite school that what drakengard is. Though the combat is still, at best, usually average. Some cool looking magic in the game with some of the spells being worthless. Character customization is also hit and miss with it existing and seemingly cool, but overall the game is mostly easy and the customizing not that important.

It's less about the combat and more about the variation. A dungeon where the game goes isometric. Numerous instances of 2d platforming(assets just set on a 2d plane, it doesn't change style). Bullet hell segments with some of the bosses. A crazy, amazing scene that takes place in the forest that I would hate to spoil by even mentioning how it plays to anyone that hasn't been spoiled and might play the game still.

I don't want to sound like I'm completely championing the game. I loved it and so many of the things it did but it has issues. It's just that the issues really aren't spectacular or truly terrible, ho-hum gameplay and dull graphics; big whoop. The things it did well just completely out weigh those parts for me(even when I am being a complete graphics whore on my new pc seeing what everything looks like now).

Posted by Slag

@vortextk: thanks!

that does sound significantly better. GoW style combat is a huge step up from Dynasty Warriors. You've pretty much told me what I needed to hear.

The combat doesn't need to be amazing given everything else the series does, just decent and varied and it sounds like it is.

alrighty then, now I just need to the money to buy it and the time to play it!

Posted by Veektarius

I just got this game recently, maybe a month or two ago. I got pretty deep into it, but then lost steam around the scene where Emil experiences his change.

The OST is great, but isn't quite dense enough to hold up the grindy sidequests that have you listening to it loop so many times. The combat isn't quite bad, but they often give you viewpoints that make it impossible to use with any finesse, and the enemy design is bizarre and unvaried at the same time. The weapon system is complicated for the sake of being complicated, between there being too many weapons with too little difference between them and the 'word' system on top of that.

There's just enough wrinkles in there to make me feel like I'm shooting myself in the foot if I just give up on the sidequests and just play through the story, which is unique and interesting, and the boss fights are fun. But if I knew I could do that, I probably would. Otherwise this one's tottering on the edge of being completed or not depending on how bored I am during the game drought over the next few months.

Those graphics are straight up unforgivable though. Don't care much for the underlying art style either.

Edited by Demoskinos

I totally forgot Neir was a Squarenix joint. Neir is cool I've only ever gotten to the "halfway" point in the game though. I ended up getting bogged down by the insane side quests in the second half of the game that require a ton of grinding. I should just let them go and finish the story but... the completionist in me won't let that stuff be.

Posted by RayCarter

@slag: Hi! I am surprised to see that this article continues to get some comments even after two days of release.

@vortextk pretty much summed up with the combat is about, but just some more details. Without going into minute details Nier as an action game has pretty average combat. Defensively you have a dodge move and a block, the latter unimportant and the former vital. On the attack you can wield various weapons (especially in the second half of the game) like spears, swords and heavier swords. I don't remember the combat too much but it almost feels like it is a mash-fest because I'm pressing only 1 or 2 buttons at least when weapons are concerned. Weapons combat is not entirely fun.

Magic is much better, because you have a variety of spells to choose from and most of these spells pack a punch. Spells include the rapid-fire machine gun (magic bullets), stronger magic spear projectiles and dark magic fists that pound melee targets. They seem to be more useful because they have a targeting system and allows you time to aim those spells. They also look cool despite the graphical issues.

Boss battles are probably the best. There are a lot of them and all are mostly interesting, like monsters made of blocks or a dark-sided doppelganger. They aren't hard but in certain instances where you feel the scale of things, making you think like "oh wow, this monster is flipping huge".

Customization merely is choosing your weapons or inserting modifications to increase stats like EXP gained, attack or defense. Nothing special there, and you don't really have to think hard about the upgrades.

Oh yeah, and the forest stages? They are great. Not Fable 2's Perfect World great, but they are very memorable, at least to me.

Edited by Chop

I strongly dislike Nier. Sure, the music great and the story was interesting enough, but I cannot get past how unpleasant actually playing it is. It plays like some shitty third person action game that would feel at home on the ps2.

Edited by Slag

@raycarter:

Thanks man, that give me a much better idea. Very helpful. Sounds like it still basically is still Drakengard then. That's a little disappointing, but it sounds like it is better enough that next time I go game buying I might get it depending on what I see available.

and yeah, your thread keeps getting seen in part due to bumps like mine.That's one advantage to the blog attached to forum format at least on Giantbomb. The response threads tend to have longer lives and get seen more often.

FWIW I read your blog a day or so ago, I just ran out of time last night to comment then.

Edited by RayCarter

@chop:

I think the question you have to ask yourself is "Do I focus on the game's shortcomings or its strengths?" Even the most hardcore fans of this game will admit to you that the game's mechanics is less than stellar. But because there is still so much good to be found we overall enjoy the game. This review from RPGamer probably sums it up best about the conflicting decision to rate Nier:

The game reviewer in me is screaming at me to recognize Nier's numerous flaws, and they are numerous. The environments are bland and poorly rendered, the gameplay is derivative, there's a lot of repetition in the quests and dungeons, and little about the game really stands out as being truly inspired. And yet, Nier is, quite simply, the most fun I've had with a video game all year, and that's counting both Mass Effect 2 and Final Fantasy XIII. As a game reviewer, it's important to be able to weigh a game's merits against its faults, and doing that, as the game reviewer in me wants to do, Nier couldn't really be called much more than a decent game. But I can't bring myself to do that. Nier transcends its less than stellar individual elements and becomes something much grander. The gamer in me has won this battle, and he's the one writing this review

Edited by FourWude

OK here's a question for the Nier lovers.

Would you shag Kaine?

Posted by shinjin977

@fourwude said:

OK here's a question for the Nier lovers.

Would you shag Kaine?

Yes.

Edited by 9cupsoftea

Cavia - the company that made Nier - were disbanded, so we're never getting a sequel.

Posted by FourWude

@fourwude said:

OK here's a question for the Nier lovers.

Would you shag Kaine?

Yes.

Even more pertinent question. Would you let her shag you?

Posted by RayCarter

@fourwude said:

OK here's a question for the Nier lovers.

Would you shag Kaine?

Probably not; I'll let either Emil or Nier do that.

Posted by FourWude

@raycarter: But what would Emil actually use? And would even be able to feel anything?