by Ben Hopkins
Now, I’m not saying I’m the kind of guy that goes digging around in the bargain bin to see if any of the $1.99 games were perhaps just overlooked and are actually golden. I am, though, the kind of guy who is cheap and realizes he’s played all of his games and ends up digging through his roommates games and came across this title.
Nier came out for both the 360 and the PS3 back in 2010 and was met with bad to mediocre reviews, holding a 67 on Metacritic. It’s an open world-ish (I’ll explain the -ish later) action-adventure game with some role-playing elements to it. The fighting style is definitely reminiscent of the whole God of War/Bayonetta/DmC series excepted with the over-the-top, in-your-face attitude scaled down.
The game starts off in the not-so-distant future with a man and a young girl trekking through some bleak-ass, modern looking city in the middle of a terrible snowstorm. They wind up hiding in an abandoned grocery store only to be attacked by evil shadow creatures, almost a la Twilight Princess. The battle gets more and more intense as you’re introduced to the variety of the magic-based attacks you get to combo in during fighting until you take down a big baddie and it wraps up.
After you’re victorious in the fight, the man heads back inside of the store and you get to see the little girl coughing badly. The game then jumps 1,312 YEARS INTO THE FUTURE. While the introduction scene ultimately plays a role, the fact alone that they jump so god damned far into the future makes you almost feel like your intro fight you just finished was for absolutely nothing. Nothing!
So, once you’ve come to terms with the fact that you’re over a thousand years into the future, you find yourself looking at two characters, a man and a young girl, that look identical to the characters from the first scene. The main difference is that they live in a seemingly-post apocalyptic, medieval-esque village that is built upon an old town and are dressed as such. Also the whole so far into the future thing, that’s a pretty big difference.
This man, Nier, the titular character of the game, is out to find the cure for his daughter Yonah’s terminal sickness. From there the game goes on to evolve into a pretty fun, albeit simplistic, game. You soon find your companion, Grimoire Weiss (which, I also may have not mentioned earlier, I can’t remember if you can put in Japanese voices, but if you can you should. It’s not Dynasty Warriors bad, but it’s not the greatest at times) who allows you to use the shadow-comb-type attacks you get so enamored with during the first fight. Now, these attacks range from shooting you forward lighting fast to shooting out floating-homing-shadow lances that pierce your enemies.
You eventually find yourself with more travel buddies, of which one is of course the obligatory big breasted gal wearing next to nothing found within most Japanese titles. At one point there’s another time jump, and, well, I gave you the introduction I’m not going to ruin the damn thing for you. What I really want to talk about for a second though is the music in this game. It’s beautiful. It’s so well composed and I was honestly so surprised. It’s a blend of the dramatic and the relaxing with both organic and electronic elements. There’s profuse use of choir-like vocals and reminded me somewhat of certain elements of the persona 3 soundtrack. It’s definitely got a new-age vibe with it, but as someone who grew up in the 90’s and was forced to listen to the emergence of new-age music on the radio I have a soft spot for it. If you can’t get into the gameplay, do yourself a favor and at least listen to the soundtrack.
So, while I wouldn’t say that it’s even Nier-perfect (oh ho ho!), it’s not a bad way to kill some time on occasions. I’m glad I played it and I think you should as well. Hell, it’s cheap to pick up so you don’t really have an excuse.