Despite a more than relative commercial and critical success during its release in 2010 on Xbox 360 and PS3, “Nier” has nevertheless managed to create a cult around it. The new Nier Game “NieR Replicant”, a remake released on April 23, 2021, gives this unique work a brand-new setting, but the flaws of the original game remain.
Before talking about the New Nier Game? What happened since 2010?
They are not many, but they are vocal, fans of the original Nier. With 700,000 copies sold worldwide, Nier, in its two versions Gestalt and Replicant, “wasn’t really a success” according to Yoko Taro, the director. In the press, it wasn’t great either, with recurrent criticisms of dull settings, a less than perfect combat system and, of course, a bogus pace due to the particular structure of the story.
But this didn’t stop the game from building up an impressive reputation, thanks to a cheeky scenario, colourful characters and a soundtrack that no one has ever dared to question for a second. Like a legend passed down orally, everyone knew that Nier was a unique title, but few people had actually played it.
A series of miracles followed: first, the decision by publisher Square Enix to work on a new Nier game, a new episode to Nier despite disappointing sales. It will be Nier Automata in 2017 on PS4, Xbox One and PC. It will sell – second miracle – over five million copies. Four years after this opus and 10 years after the original, the publisher agrees to give the product another chance by entrusting a remake, NieR Replicant, to the Japanese studio Toylogic.
The beginning of a deceptively classic adventure
As its title indicates, the game is based on the Replicant version of Nier, unreleased in the West. We no longer play a massive forty-year-old man trying to protect his daughter, but a teenager, living with his little sister, Yonah, in a medieval village. All is not peaceful, however, as Yonah is suffering from an incurable disease that threatens her life. In addition, the village is frequently attacked by ‘shadows’, ethereal, gregarious figures capable of sending out magical projectiles.
The village is run by twin girls, Devola and Popola, who regularly send the hero on missions outside. In his desperate search for a cure, the protagonist will meet Grimoire Weiss, a book with a conscience, Kainé, a young swords-woman who swears like a cartoonist, and Émile, a boy plagued by a curse that turns everything he touches into stone.
Although The new Nier game’s scenario is the main attraction of the game, it is impossible to say more about it as it is so convoluted and dependent on its surprise effects. You’ll have to trust us: it’s fascinating. Just understand that behind these fantastic medieval trappings, layers and layers of events and legends, each more disturbing than the last, are hidden under a very classic veneer. This is not just a damsel in distress story.
A Remaster that is limited to the technical aspects
The new Nier game’s graphic smoothing is successful and if the scenery can still seem angular or even lacking variety in places, it is impossible to reproach them for being dull. The colours are much more vibrant and the characters’ faces are updated. Keiichi Okabe’s music was perfect and should not be touched for anything. That’s exactly what happened and it’s very good. The same goes for the excellent English dubbing which is a reference of expressiveness and gives an incredible charisma to the protagonists.
To the delight of old fans and to the detriment of newcomers, NieR Replicant has remained almost identical to the original in its structure. The side quests are as uninteresting as ever, the flow of events is identical, the incessant back and forth is still present, the dungeon design is still as bad as ever, the bosses are uninspired, the menus are dated, the weapon enchantment system is boring, the fast teleportation option comes way too late in the game and is hopelessly inaccessible, the repetition ad nauseam of certain sequences of the title is still annoying… No need to throw more away: NieR Replicant, remake as it is, is still in its 2010 juice, a year in which we could hardly forgive its deviations.
One of Nier’s most famous mechanics also comes from its multiple endings, which alternate points of view, and bring increasingly nuanced, even shocking, interpretations to what is initially presented as a simple story of a fearless and blameless hero.
This structure is infinitely clever, but at the same time it requires the player to replay entire sections of the adventure several times. The approach is cheeky, straightforward and justified by its purpose. Nevertheless, it is certain that many newcomers will be discouraged by the idea of repeating these sequences, for a handful of new cinematics. Fortunately, it is possible to skip all the skits from the start. However, be careful what you cut, you are never safe from an extra subtitle in a cinematic you think you have already seen in a previous game.
Not a good remake, but an excellent remaster
Nier is a clever title, which knows how to play with staging and camera angles. It knows how to keep things quiet before revealing them to you at the right moment and is not afraid to send you whole screens of extremely well written text for several minutes. New Nier game makes the most of the specificity of its medium and messes with its own codes. There is cinema in Nier, but there is also literature, theatre, music, philosophy and, of course, a lot of video games. Nier is a total work of art in which Yoko Taro feels he can do anything and does, with great loss.
However, it is also a prisoner of an era where if a role-playing game was less than 15 hours, then it was bound to fail by industry standards. A time when you almost had to meet quotas of side quests, of items to collect, or else face the wrath of the press and gamers. In 2021, it responds to codes that some developers are now starting to leave behind to produce more efficient and more collected titles.
The new Nier game : NieR Replicant thus fails in its mission to be a good remake, but brilliantly succeeds in being an excellent remaster of 2010’s Nier. Only play it if you’ve done the entire 2017 sequel Nier: Automata. Its story stands on its own and will allow you to get used to the temperature of the strange bath in which NieR Replicant intends to plunge you.
Without having done a bad job on NieR Replicant, far from it, it is all the same sad to see that the studio Toylogic did not have the free rein as hoped for to further modernize what could have become a timeless classic. Yoko Taro may be a gifted storyteller, but his magnum opus still requires a personal investment that’s hard to ask of everyone.
For further information about pc requirements for the game you can check it on the game debate article in this link.
NieR Replicant is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC.