NieR Replicant ver. 1.22474487139 – Review
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Genre: Action, RPG, Hack and slash
Developer: Square Enix, Toylogic Inc.
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Tested on: PS4

NieR Replicant ver. 1.22474487139 – Review

Site Score
8.0
Good: The emotional journey, beautiful world, epic musical score and fun gameplay elements
Bad: Remaster graphic limitations, mundane side-quests and too much grind in an already lengthy experience
User Score
9.2
(5 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.2/10 (5 votes cast)

Square Enix and its games need no introduction. Yet, when NieR Automata came out back in 2017, most of the newly formed legion of fans had never heard of NieR Replicant, its predecessor, released only for the PlayStation 3 in 2010, and exclusively in Japan. Its convoluted journey, and the fact that the game shares its name with another version later released outside of Japan as simply Nier, resulted in the story of these two siblings never reaching a Western audience. Until now.

Story

Nier Replicant (full name: Nier Replicant ver. 1.22474487139) is where everything began: the empty canvas Yoko Taro started developing his art on, which would reach its peak later with NieR Automata. The story of the game follows the orphaned siblings Yonah, a sick young girl, and her older brother, the unnamed hero (Nier?) you will be playing through.

The opening scenes show you a post-apocalyptic fantastic world filled with hostile shadows (called “Shades”), and the protagonist’s reluctance in making use of the mysterious tome lying next to him to defeat them. After that, an enormous time leap throws you into a bucolic world where Nier is desperately trying to find a cure to Yonah’s affliction, known as the “Black Scrawl”, and busies himself around their village performing menial jobs so he can sustain both in a slowly dying world.

If you like to complete side quests and explore everything the game has to offer, you will spend a lot of hours getting to know this world, and you will think you have the handle on things. That is when Part 2 sneaks up on you, and everything changes. But you will see that for yourself.

Replicant’s story is every bit as dark, emotional and complex as Automata’s, filled with twists and turns. You will meet many unforgettable characters along the way, and maybe even shed some unexpected tears (if you happen to follow, for example, the story of an old man and his lost dog). Your main ally and the voice you will hear the most throughout your journey is Grimoire Weiss, an enigmatic and powerful book whose sassy personality you will grow to love.

Playing Replicant means experiencing first-hand an incredible tale of love and sorrow that keeps pulling you in, always framed by the drive to protect little Yonah, and everything precious about life she represents. Naturally, Yoko Taro was never happy with offering only one end to the story (because nothing is ever that simple), and that means you will have to toil in Replicant too if you wish to find the real finale past Ending A.

Graphics

Replicant’s world can only be described in one word: gorgeous. Granted, playing on console guarantees this experience, and we have not tried the PC version whose framerates generated some noise, but for those on PS4, this remaster fulfilled their longing for the NieR series.

The upgrade is especially clear in the little details that have been fleshed out in the fauna and flora of the world, and in character models. Textures overall are soothing to the eyes, and that is especially important in a game that will make you run back and forth through the different environments so much that you will end up knowing by heart every blade of grass.

But not everything is perfect in NieR’s graphics. You can still somehow feel you are playing a soft remake of an original PS3 version rather than an original 2021 title, especially in the first hours of the game, where you are stuck behind loading screens more times than you can count. The world, although always beautiful, can also feel barren and a rigid obstacle to overcome, since you cannot easily access many areas in the landscape by trekking or falling, instead awkwardly parkouring your way around them. And do not think for a moment that you can lose sight of your kills: the moment you turn around they disappear before you have a chance to loot them, leaving behind only blood on the floor and a lot of lingering frustration.

Sound

NieR Automata’s musical score was so epic that you could sit behind the screen blasting it on your speakers and enjoy yourself with that alone. Replicant’s is just as good, which should not come as a surprise, given that the same composer, Keiichi Okabe, is behind it. His soundtrack is such a work of genius that you will find the back and forth of side-quests that much more bearable because of it, and every encounter will hit just the right note to match your feelings.

Additionally, this remaster offers a big new improvement to the original Replicant: every character is now voiced. Yes, every single character, from the grumpy lighthouse old lady to the children running everywhere. Not everyone offers you dialogues worthy of a literary novel, of course, but this is still one of the most charming aspects of the game, allowing you to get acquainted with everyone and so have an actual reason to care about what happens to them.

To top it all off, the quirky personality of the book Weiss develops even in dull moments through voice acting as well, with spontaneous (and sometimes hilarious) dialogue lines exchanged between the two main characters illustrating their character development, and even voicing the player’s own thoughts.

Gameplay

Replicant is an action-RPG hack-and-slasher sandbox type of game, filled with cool-looking button-smashing combos and intense boss encounters. Just like in Automata, you will find the typical gameplay intermingled with alternative camera angles and interesting perspectives as you explore the world and solve puzzles to access new areas and collect loot.

You will be performing most of your fighting using a main weapon and the magic from Weiss, but you can customize both by collecting and upgrading new weapons and abilities. The game also uses a mechanic called “Words”, some sort of magical add-ons that you will find mid-fights and that you can assign to both weapons and abilities to improve them.

While none of these elements are rocket science, they can be a bit confusing when you first start out, mostly due to the game’s overly obscure menu. Like many other elements in the NieR series, there are always options if you want to take the “easy way out”: there is, for example, an option to automatically assign the best word combination to the right weapon/ability, saving you the time to change these every time you find better ones. Similarly, not only does the game have several difficulty settings, it also offers an “Auto-Battle” mode that is highly customizable, and that will allow you to watch Nier defeat everything in his path without any help from you but to push the stick forward.

The ability to bypass most of the game combat says a lot about the game itself: more than enjoying a Dark Souls type, Replicant wants you to cater to your own experience so that you can, above all, feel – feel the environment around you, the ambience enveloping it and, most of all, every character’s motivation and reason of being. This idea is a very successful one, masterfully executed here.

That is not to say that every moment in Replicant will be uplifting, or even memorable. One of the worst aspects of Replicant, making it lose ground to its successor, is its tedious side quest system. When you start there is no way of knowing which quests are truly worth undertaking and which are not, so you will end up trying to do them all, just in case you will miss something. And miss you will: not only are there crucial gameplay elements hidden behind apparently unimportant side quests (such as cultivating, one of the best ways to make money in the game), but also overlooking some of these can lead you to an expected grind later on, as you discover which ingredients you really need and which you can sell untroubled.

The menu is not the most helpful tool for this: you never have a clear indication of what quest you might be working on without going through several tabs first, and some quests (the ones Devola offers in the tavern, for example) do not even show up there, forcing you to remember them by heart if you want to complete them. After journeying throughout the world with your faithful Pumba many times over to perform meaningless and repetitive tasks, maybe you will finally start to understand why Replicant insists on giving you these quests. Or; maybe not. In that case, you might as well skip them and find other ways of making money, such as fishing dozens of fishes that are that much stronger than you (enjoy your lost baits).

In any case, combat in Replicant offers a lot of variation in compensation for its dull moments, from fighting mindless mobs to facing some seriously powerful boss encounters. Some challenges do not even involve fighting at all; instead, they are based on solving puzzles and riddles, and a lot of reading will be required. If these are not to your liking, progressing the main story can be a bit slow at times. Make sure not to miss out on some of the fighting banter between the characters during combat, since sometimes the subtitles (on the top left) are hard to notice while you’re busy desperately smashing your many combo buttons.

Replicant’s many expected playthroughs to reach the true ending mean you can have many hours of game time with inherent replayability. This has its pros and cons, but something that you cannot accuse the title of is lack of things to do; it easily racks up on hours of playing, if only you take the time to complete every quest, cultivate a bit on the side for extra cash, and go through all the endings.

Conclusion

Replicant is a beautiful game where the end is never just the end, but another chance to begin anew and to experience this remastered version, as vibrant as never before. Sure, there will be moments where you will curse Yoko Taro for making you sad, and bored, and sad again; and yet you will find yourself humming the game’s music when doing chores around the house, or wondering what exactly happened to the Aerie that made it so… well, aerie. You will turn the game on again, just to try to find out. And long after you have stopped playing, you will keep thinking about Replicant, remembering its characters and its story. That is the true value of the NieR series, deserving of overlooking its minor hiccups, turning it in an unforgettable gaming experience, unlike any other.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.2/10 (5 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
NieR Replicant ver. 1.22474487139 – Review, 9.2 out of 10 based on 5 ratings
ChiChi


Freelance writer and translator who likes to feed in her free time. If you'd like to chat, send me an e-mail to ritajbp@gmail.com!

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