NieR: Automata – Become as Gods Edition – Review
Follow Genre: Action Adventure
Developer: PlatinumGames
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: Xbox One (Regular edition also on PS4 and PC_
Tested on: Xbox One

NieR: Automata – Become as Gods Edition – Review

Site Score
8.7
Good: A good story with plenty of action and mixed-up point of views
Bad: Sometimes the story lacks a bit of incentive, sometimes death feels too unfair
User Score
9.5
(2 votes)
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Rating: 9.5/10 (2 votes cast)

As a ”surprise” announcement that leaked earlier on the same day,  at E3 2018 the game NieR: Automata was said to be released for Xbox One the same month as the announcement. It’s been out for a few days now, and known as the ”Become as Gods” edition. This means there are some extra accessories to wear, and also includes the 3C3C1D119440927 DLC, which contains 3 different sub-quest colosseum challenges that unlock a new outfit for each of the main characters. 

Story

In NieR: Automata, you are an android in service of YoRHa. This means you are all created for a single purpose: To make the Earth, which is flooded with malicious machines, safe again for the humans to return from their sanctuary on the moon. The premise of NieR is already rather original, yet the story combined with the gameplay is even more untraditional. The first time you play through the game it seems rather short before you reach the end, but then the game asks you to select your end-game save file, and the gameplay will change, including the story. This way, the game is separated in a few different larger parts which each gives you a little bit more story, different gameplay, and insights. The story blends in with the other aspects of the game such as the graphics, yet there are also more traditional ways used to tell what has to be told. Sometimes it’s pure text, other times cinematics, and a lot of story-driven gameplay as well.

A lot of thematics in NieR revolve around the question: What makes us human? The androids you play with hate machines, and the machines seem to have adopted a certain aspect of human behavior. It’s all about advanced artificial intelligence, the possibility to not only make logical choices based on information but also choices that could be seen as an emotional response to recent events. The ”what makes us human” question is something that NieR keeps repeating over and over again, sometimes a bit too much. The game makes sure you remember it by creating over-the-top reactions from characters at times as well. The story starts out very slow but the further you go, the more speed it will start to pick up, working towards multiple climactic points throughout the game. It’s one of the reasons that NieR: Automata became so popular, and a good reason for Xbox One owners to pick up the Become as Gods Edition if they haven’t played the game yet. In any case, a note to all new players. Once you’ve seen the credits for the first time, for God’s sake keep playing, the game is not over and you would miss out on what makes the game great.

Graphics

A great part of the graphics is that you can see the story and its background in every bit of the environment. There’s a run-over city with a lot of empty office buildings and where all types of machines wreak havoc in their specific areas, a desert with sand fine enough to be dangerous to machine circuitry, an abandoned amusement park and more. The total map isn’t that big, but thanks to the change in scenery and gameplay every now and then, it’s just enough to not get bored by the things that you see around you. Obviously, in a story about machines, there is a lot of metal present. But combined with rich fantasy and story background this works out just fine.

Another cool part is that instead of only showing cutscenes, a couple of ”NPCs” are turned into ”PCs”. Not your personal computer, but a playable character. All the different enemies and allies in the game have almost unique animations, which shows. It strengthens the characters of the story, by giving their movements the right attitude and flair. How do you move when you are angry? How do you move when you have to be brave? Scared? NieR: Automata knows, and shows you it knows with everything it does as well.

Sound

NieR: Automata has a pretty tight soundtrack. It’s variated, sometimes very original and memorable. A good example in case you want to know would be a song called ”Pascal”, named after one of the NPCs in the game. The voice acting is alright. The voices seem to fit but are a bit too typically anime at times. Especially combined with certain parts of the story this can be annoying. The ”Raaaah, I will kill you!” and the ”Damned machines!” sentences are there. A lot. Too much? Maybe. At least the sound effects are just as smooth as the soundtrack. It fits a slasher in the style of Devil May Cry combat with slicing and dicing sounds, shooting and interactions.

Gameplay

NieR Automata is bringing a hack ‘n slash action-adventure together with some arcade elements. Your goal is to progress in the story as you fight your way through hordes of machines and try to uncover the truth behind ”what the hell is going on”. One of the things you will immediately notice as you start to play is that the camera is twisting and turning all ways. Sometimes it’s like suddenly you are playing in 2D, then it’s top-down, and other times you are free to roam and look wherever you want. It’s an exciting mix that makes the arcade parts feel more like arcade by their classic point of view. After an introduction where you fly around and shoot in your robot-ship-combination, the real game begins and you will take control of your first android named 2B.

In NieR, each of your main three characters you will play with has its own way of attacking and strengths. Android 2B is balanced with strong melee attacks and a ”pod” (a floating smart robot), which is able to shoot and perform ranged attacks. Android 9S is mainly strong in hacking enemies. If you hack somebody you will go into an arcade type of game where the objective always is to destroy a black sphere with your ship. If you succeed, the hack succeeds, else you get damage. Finally, there is Android A2, who is able to improve her melee strength with a taunt. Making her a powerful melee character. All characters have some variation in skills, but they are each strongest in a particular area. Sometimes this is not that great a thing.

Where in a game such as Devil May Cry with similar combat mechanics you get a wide set of skills at your disposal, in NieR some battles might feel like a drag (especially when you die and forgot to save) because of the spreading of skills over three different characters and the limited combo possibilities. The biggest difference lies in the weapons you choose. There are light attack melee weapons and heavy attack melee weapons, and they come in different shapes and sizes. You can also upgrade your pod to gain different types of special attacks that fit your combat style, and finally, you can upgrade yourself and add stuff such as lifesteal to your strikes. Upgrades you will need cause not only the game gets harder over time, but also one of the biggest downsides to the game is that, even though you can basically dodge every possible attack, when the screen overflows with enemy projectiles you have a chance to get instant-downed. When this happens you are forced to redo everything since your last save.

You got the main quests, needed to progress in the story, and there are sub-quests which either give you more background story and experience or unlock certain things such as the sub-quests the DLC requires you to do to actually gain the outfits it contains. There are some secrets to find, and you can go do other stuff such as fishing, loot farming or playing challenges, but the story-related missions stay the most alluring. At any rate, there is enough to do for you to not get bored for a while.

Conclusion

NieR: Automata has been well appreciated, and even though the ”Become as Gods” edition doesn’t add that much, it’s mostly worth it if you never played the game yet. Yes, some of the gameplay gets repetitive over time, and the story might mess up here and there, yet it’s an experience that will take you for a ride and maybe even leave you with some questions, a feat that not many games possess. The game feels like it has many secrets to tell you, and how much you get depends on your own interpretation and amount of time you put in it, but the most important thing is that you will probably like at least some aspect of it, and won’t regret owning this title.

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Rating: 9.5/10 (2 votes cast)
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NieR: Automata - Become as Gods Edition - Review, 9.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Pim Hoogeveen
Pim Hoogeveen


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