NieR: Automata Review

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Platinum Games is well known for giving us great gameplay in games. I don't necessarily run out and buy every game that they create, but I know to expect some solid gameplay in whatever they develop since I find that to always be their strong point. With NieR Automata: Beyond Gods Edition, they have once again given us some great gameplay, but this time everything else is just as good and works seamlessly along with that great gameplay to create a truly fantastic experience. NieR Autamata is an action-RPG and the Xbox One version is basically the same version of the PS4 version that released last year. The game is a near perfect game in almost every way and if you have not played it, you are truly missing out.

The NieR series is a spin-off of the Drakenguard series and NieR Automata is the sequel to the original NieR. NieR Automata takes place after the fourth ending to NieR but has no direct narrative connection with the rest of the series. Machines have taken over the Earth and humans have escaped to the moon. From their bunker in space, humanity sends down combat androids that are called "YoRHa" to fight off the machines. Players take on the role of 2B (YoRHa No. 2 Model B) along with her partner 9S (YoRHa No. 9 Model S) while performing scouting missions for the bunker.

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Automata has a bit of shooter, action, and RPG elements combined. The game can nearly be played as a full-fledged shooter if you want. At the start of some missions, you'll engage in 2-D "bullet hell" shoot'em-up stages before starting out on the field below. You'll get to explore vast open world maps with tons of collectibles to find and enemies to fight. The game is split up into main missions and side missions once you get out on the open field. Your character comes equipped with a drone that fires bullets and you can get it to shoot at enemies to help you out in battle. The main character can equip a variety of melee weapons such as short swords, long swords, spears and other weapons. Two weapons can be equipped at a time and each one is mapped to a particular button. You can switch between two weapon sets that you can switch up from the menus. One great part about combat is that you don't have to go in and out of menus that much at all. You can pull up and use items or switch between weapon sets during gameplay using the directional pad. Extra items can be found in pickups throughout the various maps and inside item chests.

The combat is quite nice overall. You can engage in close-range melee combat or run throughout the area and shoot your targets with your drone. Naturally, melee combat takes the most damage, but it's also the most risky. You'll have to learn enemy attacks and how to dodge them while attacking from close range. There is a dodge button that will cause your character to dodge backward or in whatever direction that you're currently holding. Dodging becomes an extremely helpful asset during boss battles where you'll often be forced into using it thanks to the boss' very sudden attacks. Automata does a superb job with boss fight. The boss' all have a variety of attacks and different phases. You'll face screen-filling bosses and bosses that will be just as agile as yourself. Automata can be quite tough at times and you can only save at certain points through a manual save system.

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Your partner, 9S, always tags along with your character no matter where you go. Thankfully, the AI partner never does truly get in the way. 9S can be set to different AI modes to where he will assume more of an attack or defensive play style. The partner is invincible and only provides minimal support. Whenever players die, they lose all attachments that they had on them. Much like in Dark Souls, you can retrieve your attachments by getting to the spot where you died and recovering them. If you die before recovering them, your supplies are lost forever. Story-wise, whenever an android dies, they leave behind their black box, so you're basically retrieving your black box full of your attachments when you die. If Network mode is on, you can find bodies of other players that have died and you can choose to retrieve some stats and items from them or revive them and have an additional AI partner along with 9S.

The overall sound to Automata is easily one of the best parts. The soundtrack is absolutely fantastic. Every new area has a very catchy melody that often fits it very well. Music often has lyrical sections that make it all the more appealing. Sound effects for guns, sword swings and special effects are solid as well. The character voices are well done with some great performances in key scenes. The story has a lot of emotion and moral themes throughout it. The game constantly plays with emotions by questioning if you are doing the right thing or not, such as killing off robots when they are not attacking you directly. The overall feel of the story reminds me a lot of the Zone of the Enders games, which had similar recurring themes. The characters have some good depth and the overall story is very satisfying. If you're a fan of games with many cinematic moments, like I am, NieR Automata will please you greatly.

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NieR Automata: Beyond Gods Edition was a total shock to me with how much I enjoyed it. It takes a very solid experience for me to enjoy an RPG lately and NieR grabbed me quite well from the beginning and kept me entertained throughout. It's the type of game where I want to do everything that I possibly can just to make the experience longer - a type of game I rarely find nowadays. I went into NieR Autamata with no expectations other than the good gameplay that I usually find from Platinum Games, I went away floored with a near perfect action game.

The Good:
+ Very fun gameplay
+ Fantastic soundtrack and overall sound
+ Emotional and engaging story with good characters

The Bad:
- Constantly having to manual-save feels a bit tedious

Final Rating: 95% - NieR Automata: Beyond Gods Edition is a fantastic action-RPG in nearly every way.

 



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