A pair of androids start a journey that leads to a uncertain conclusion
Over the years I’ve seen games that tried to take the multiple perspective angle with the story they were trying to tell. Most have done an average job at best but now a game has taken it to a whole new level. That game is named Nier Automata. Since I don’t want want to spoil any details I’ll be focusing my review on 2B's storyline. A quick set up of the story is that humans have fled to the moon after an alien invasion. They decide to build a android army to exterminate the aliens and all the machines they built to take over the earth. 2B is a fighter model that was built to take on missions to destroy any violent machine lifeforms. After being paired up with a recon model 9S they go off to save a dying world. Which sounds a lot like a standard action game storyline but the themes that come up throughout the first tale are very interesting. It may just start with the trope of machines starting to gain sentience but by the end it goes in so many directions.
The narrative is a big part of what makes this game amazing yet the gameplay is just as compelling. The gist of the action takes place in third person action scenes with a focus on slashing through any machines that stand in 2B’s way. Like many other games this one has a light and heavy attack but where it starts to break away from the norm is the addition of the helper bot. He is always flying nearby and can shoot out bullets to take out far away enemies. Along with a special attack that can be customized in different ways. It starts out with just a giant laser beam but by the end you’ll have around 20 different ways to assist in every fight scene. Between the two it gives the player enough tools to deal with any situation and keep the fights interesting enough that they don’t become boring. Other than the camera changing up its focus to change how the player sees things the other main gameplay style is a top down bullet hell mode. Flying around blasting everything to bits is fun and it adds some variety to the gameplay.
Stabbing and blasting things is great but the in between moments are just as vital. The world isn’t super huge yet it has plenty of side quests to take on. Some are the standard go here and collect stuff and then they’ll give you a reward quest. Yet most add a lot of flavor to the world you happen to be visiting. Whether it's just building a playset for some friendly robot kids or trying to understand why someone would like a snobby philosopher this world has some very interesting "people" in it. Wanting to see more of the world made me interested in competing just about every side quest.
By the time the credits starting to roll for the final time I had plenty of stuff that I enjoyed throughout my multiple playthroughs. The music and almost every character moments were enjoyable for me. But a few minor nitpicks must be brought up. For one the amount of different weapons is staggering yet none of them change up the combat in a significant way. 4 different weapon types with similar animations does not give the melee fights much variety. The same can be said about the lack of enemy types too. Like I mentioned before some of the side missions come down to running around collecting items which is never that fun. None of these nitpicks detract from my enjoyment to much but they were something I noticed during my 30 hour playthrough.
In the end the journey through the desolate wasteland known as earth in Nier: Automata was fraught with many emotions. All the joy, pain, humor and suffering this story goes through hits in a way not many games do. Unless you don’t enjoy action RPG’s this is a game worth playing.