What's Automata with you? [WIP]

I originally played the NieR demo when it first came out, and I... Didn't like it. I WAS going to get Mass Effect: Andromeda, but seeing everything about it once embargoes lifted dissuaded me. I never played the original NieR (I did read a pretty in-depth Let's Play some time ago, if that counts), but the seemingly overwhelming praise for Automata convinced me to put my Mass Effect money on giving NieR a second chance. Now, I'm writing this after having completed all of the main endings.

Going forward, there is something to keep in mind: I love third person action games. I LOATHE bullet hell shooters. Obviously, my personal taste is going to maybe skew my perception of the game as a whole, so if that bothers you feel free to disregard everything I write about it. It's worth noting, however, that I wouldn't have completed the game if I didn't enjoy my time with it.

As far as action games go, while I wouldn't say I'm amazing at them, I've enjoyed Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden, and Platinum games dating back to the Viewtiful Joe days. It took me a while to get into Dark Souls, but I have played them all and I did eventually finish one once 3 came around. On the other hand, my favorite games last year were Stardew Valley and Va-11 Hall-a: Cyberpunk Bartender Action.

I only mention any of that in order to provide some kind of understanding for when I say this:

I kind of hate the gameplay in NieR: Automata.

=The difference between Difficult and Challenging=

When I originally played the demo I wrote that I disliked the camera angles, the bullet hell aspects, and the combat. Having finished the main story threads of the game, I can say I still feel that way about it.

The way the camera is used in general is kind of infuriating. Rather than existing at a fixed point on the player character, the camera exists as a separate character that revolves around the player character. It also doubles as your ranged weapon, making aiming without lock-on a massive pain when you also need to be able to look around you (not to mention how uncomfortable it is to aim at any enemy while also trying to hit one close range).

The color palette and the way the camera pulls out led to more than a few times where I legitimately couldn't tell what was going on, where I was, or who I was controlling.

The bullet hell/hacking segments are either embarrassingly trivial or just kind of annoying.

The game itself is a combination of bullet hell shooter and bullet hell melee, but the melee part lacks the precision of the bullet hell genre.

Terrain/geometry constantly trips you up and gets in the way. Invisible barriers during certain fights aren't a straight up "wall", and can lead to you getting stuck inside them.

-Normal is too easy, Hard is too hard

Normal eventually becomes something of a Musou game. Attacks that would be basically one hit KOs on Hard only chip off a bit of health, and you're seemingly only ever in danger if willingly walk into it.

Hard hit difficult. Not challenging, but just difficult to deal with. Enemies become much stronger, they take more hits, and have more abilities at their disposal. This wouldn't be such a problem if the way you engage them and the world you engage them in were polished enough to make it fair. In Dark Souls when you die you usually have a good idea why and how. It's usually your fault and you can tell why. Maybe you ran into a room without checking for an ambushed, maybe you went for that extra attack when you should have dodged, that sort of thing. Here, playing on hard, I was fighting the game rather than challenging myself. I got caught on terrain. I had control taken from me by story elements. I had enemies get a "free attack" when exiting dialogue or cutscenes. I was unable to target enemies for completely unknown and arbitrary reasons despite being near and looking right at them.

You not only have to deal with a dozen actual enemies, but also the dozens of bullets each of them spew out from dozens of directions. The camera does not make this enjoyable.

-The Eve boss battle

-Story stuff (text logs)

-Writing is everything

-I did enjoy it!

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MindBullet's Favorite Games of 2016

2016 has been a YEAR, huh? There were a lot of really good games, and a lot of them came out around the same time. It's made it kind of hard to do a list like this since so much has come out over the last two months that I'm still playing a lot of stuff that may have otherwise left a much bigger impression, but I feel pretty confident in what I'd pick as my favorite games from over the last year.

There's really never been a better time to be playing video games. With that out of the way, here's the good stuff:

Honorable Mention: The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II

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As much as I loved the first game, I couldn't help but come away from Cold Steel 2 feeling a little disappointed. While it's predecessor was deliberate and slowly paced, I enjoyed the 90+ hours I put into it 100%. Cold Steel 2 drags in such a way that it shines a spotlight on how well Cold Steel 1 nailed the 'slow but enjoyable' pacing that made me fall in love with it. I never really felt like Cold Steel 2 lived up to it's own potential, and a lot of what it had set itself up to do fell completely flat for me. I still enjoyed the characters and the world well enough, but as soon as I hit the point where it was clear the game was ending my overwhelming feeling was "that was it?"

#8- Megadimension Neptunia VII

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The Neptunia series has been my 'guilty pleasure' since the Re:Birth remakes. It fills the same kind of spot as Dynasty Warriors in that it's not a great game by any measure, but it's the kind of dumb fun I need sometimes. Neptunia VII does tweak, improve, and streamline enough of it's mechanics that it feels like a welcome addition, but it's still "another one of those games". It came out earlier in the year and I've put a pretty decent amount of time into it compared to a lot of the more recent games, but I don't regret any of it.

#7- Let It Die

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Let It Die kind of came out of nowhere. I knew Suda51 was working on something, but I don't think anyone knew it was going to come out like this. Let It Die is a clunky, tedious, and sometimes unfair mess and I love it. This is one of those games that really lives or dies on it's style, and Suda made sure to pour enough of that in here to cover up some of the less desirable elements. The characters and humor are great, despite often falling to the background. The combat-while unrefined-offers a lot of room for experimentation and choice. The online element is ever-present but more often than not provides greater reward than what it takes away. Even the freemium aspect of it is handled well and even finds a way to fit into the oddball humor of the game itself. There will probably come a point where things break bad, but for now I'm really digging it.

#6- Doom

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DOOM is maybe one of the most perfectly crafted FPS campaigns in years. At least, a near-perfect modern take on the FPS games of yesteryear. It's fast, fun, and frantic. It offers incentives to explore. The music is badass and never fails to get me pumped up to go fight some demons. The only problem is, I've never really been a huge fan of FPS games in general. Knowing that, I initially had rented DOOM from Redbox just to see what the hype was about. I ended up not only beating it, but I went and bought the game afterwards and started over on a higher difficulty. It's really good.

#5- Dark Souls III

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I could never get into Dark Souls. I didn't get the appeal, and the fanbase put me off. I've always been curious though, and I'll usually pick up the latest titles to see if maybe this time will be when I finally "get it". Dark Souls III is that game. I'm not even really sure what it is exactly about it that makes it stand out more than the previous 2 games for me, but whatever it is it had me hooked. I was looking up tips, reading up on lore, participating in the multiplayer stuff, and obsessing over boss fights. It all clicked for me in Dark Souls III, and I finally FINALLY found myself enjoying a Souls game.

#4- Overwatch

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I'm not a big "esports" type of guy. Competitive games usually hold little interest for me, honestly. I do play them, but most of the time it would be as a way to spend time with my brother. Overwatch is that, and much more. It's managed to craft endearing, likable characters that also feel varied and interesting during gameplay. It gives someone like me, who is pretty bad at the actual shooty bits of these games, ways to contribute that feel meaningful and worthwhile. It has a sweet lootbox opening animation. It has Mei. While I haven't spent the countless hours on it that some have already, it's kept me coming back for more and I don't see that ending any time soon.

#3- Dishonored 2

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Dishonored is one of my favorite games ever. It's stealth mechanics mixed with weird occult magicks and a grim pseudo-steampunk world really hit me in a meaningful way. Dishonored 2 provides more of that, but where I felt Mankind Divided fumbled Dishonored 2 shines. It's added powers and mechanics all feel interesting and integrate seamlessly into that old Dishonored formula, and the style remains intact in all it's ugly glory. I'll admit I got a bit attached to protecting Emily in the first game, so seeing her all grown up and kicking ass now brings a happy little tear to my eye.

#2- VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action

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This is kind of a weird one. In simple terms, it's a visual novel with a bartending gimmick mixed in. You talk to and get to know people that come through, and every now and then are prompted to mix up a drink for them. It's not really possible to fail outright. People will take whatever you give em, for better or worse, and you'll sometimes get different dialogue branches depending on what they get. It's not really about that. It's about learning more about these people as you form deeper bonds with them, and watching events in the world go by as you serve drinks in a run down little hole in the wall. It's a real comfy game about love, loss, artificial intelligence, dogs, wrestling, and a very human look at inhuman sex work. It's characters really shine through, and Dorothy and Dana are some of my favorite game characters this year.

#1- Stardew Valley

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Harvest Moon 64 was the first game I ever bought with my own money as a child. I saved up my allowance, and shoved a wad of bills at the cashier at Toys R Us when I finally could afford it. I can't say how many times I played through that game, but I will say it was ENOUGH. Ever since then, I've been obsessed with the series. I played a bunch of Mineral Town and even Wonderful Life. Couldn't get enough of it. Unfortunately, over the years the series has kind of lost it's luster for me. I started falling off after the Gamecube entries, and everything after that has never really hit that same mark from the series' glory days. Even Story of Seasons-which was released by the original creator of Harvest Moon-did nothing for me. Then Stardew Valley showed up. Not only was it entirely created by one dude, but it managed to out-Harvest Moon Harvest Moon. I've lost hours to this game, and even now I have to stop myself from loading up Steam and losing another 48 hours or so.