Review by SlaveBlade
"Came for a game, got sidetracked by the amazing story."
NIER is an action/adventure game with some RPG elements thrown into it published by Square Enix. With that out of the way, I was actually incredibly wary of this game given the poor reception it received and the expensive price tag on it when it first came out. After buying it and playing it through to completion though, I wish I hadn't waffled around so much on whether to buy it or not earlier. Let's get into why!
I know, I know, not a great start for a game I'd consider a hidden gem, but it must be said that the combat and the puzzle sections are incredibly bare-bones and incredibly basic, to a fault. For a game based around action to be so lackluster will unfortunately have to take a heavy hit.
In a sentence, Nier goes around exploring rather large areas killing things, collecting items, solving puzzles, gaining experience to level up and then doing various tasks for villagers in towns that include killing more monsters or collecting more items.
In a bit more depth...
Nier can equip Swords, one handed or two handed, and spears, each one with their own unique combat style. One handed swords are fast and flexible, able to do a five string attack (everything else only gets 3) and upon pressing the Y button can basically interrupt an enemy with a pommel strike that deals no real damage but, again, interrupts. Two handed swords, as you can guess, are extremely powerful but also extremely slow and very hard to hit with from my experience, although they can perform a spin-slash with a press of the Y button that will hit all around Nier yet leave him incredibly vulnerable afterwards. Spears have the best of both worlds. Fast and also extremely powerful though their downside is the inability to really cover wide areas, side to side, in a combo. Pressing Y with a spear will send Nier rushing forward crazy fast, dealing massive amounts of damage to all enemies the spear tip touches, and knocking them back incredibly far.
Next up is Magic, which has a lot more variety but a lot of it is almost empty filler from my experience. You do get a hefty list of spells, but you can only equip two at a time unless you want to get rid of your dodging or defending mechanic in exchange which isn't worth it. There is one spell, Dark Blast, which operates similar to a bullet hell shoot'em up style game, and while it's certainly interesting, that's about the only spell you need in the game aside from select instances. This isn't to say other spells are useless, looking back I think I could have made effective use out of a lot of them, however, I didn't need to is the problem. The leveling in this game is exponential, so really, after a few level ups you become quite incredibly powerful in the same area you were leveling in.
In addition to swords and magic, Nier can equip words to them to increase various effects, such as defense, offense, experience rates, drop rates, draining MP and HP, and even status effects occasionally. When all is said and done, this is a simple feature that works out just fine and honestly I don't mind its simplicity one bit.
As for puzzles though, they are way too simplistic. Many of them are block push-and-pull puzzles or simply finding keys to doors. There are a few segments that I enjoyed the simplicity, but there was nothing else there to really keep me going beyond that, it became mundane and groan inducing.
In closing, it has many elements that work but they aren't great.
It starts off as a simple vow from a father to save his daughter from a fatal disease known as the Black Scrawl. There's no known cure but Nier is determined to go to hell and back to save his only family. The story gets much more mixed up and a wee bit more complex later as one might expect, and that's all fine and well with me. This game has one of the best portrayals of good and evil I've ever seen in gaming, and I cannot say why without spoiling the game unfortunately. It's very... moving.
The graphics are rather... un-detailed, bland, and uninteresting on the whole. There's a few spots in the game where you might go "Man that's beautiful" but they're few and far in between. Over all, the game graphically feels like an enhanced PS2 game. It's certainly passable but it's not something to be proud of this day and age.
How does it get a 9? The Music. Oh my god, the music in Nier is just so... perfect. I have no other word to describe it. every track fits and sets the mood in this game so well. I really, really can't do this game's music justice with words, so I encourage you to go look it up and listen to it.
Play time/Replayability: 3/10
Don't get me wrong, it's a fun game, but there's not much replayability aside from doing fetch quests you may have missed in the game. All endings are achievable in one file regardless of any "points of no return" shenanigans. Not to mention that the game is incredibly short if you're only aiming for a simple single completion, maybe twenty hours tops.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 01/25/12
Game Release: NIER (US, 04/27/10)
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