Nier- currently the last game I played on PlayStation 3 before moving on to the PC’s Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. It’s really quite the underrated hack and slash, action, role-playing piece so I’ll make this review post a tribute to this awesome game as well. Will it surprise you if it’s also produced by Square Enix?
It’s a 2010 game, but I really had no idea about Nier until a couple of months ago. While browsing for new Final Fantasy XV teasers, I stumbled upon this peculiar Japanese-titled trailer:
The trailer, music and story (which I looked up after watching) were pretty much what got me into this game. I bought it the week after- good thing a friend told me he saw a 2nd-hand copy of it being sold at Greenhills.
As not too many people know, this is a spin-off game occurring after Drakengard 2′s fifth ending. The prologue begins in year 2049, at a run-down modern Tokyo grocery store where we see our protagonist Nier fend off ethereal monsters to protect a young sick girl named Yonah. Then the game amps up the mystery factor by fastforwarding 1,312 years later without really explaining anything. In that year, we see again the father and daughter pair living in a peaceful medieval town, with Nier doing all sorts of odd-jobs to earn money and try to alleviate Yonah’s worsening illness.
Wait, if the old dude is Nier, then who’s the guy in the trailer? Nier was actually released in two versions: Nier Gestalt (old guy lead) for the Playstation 3 and Nier Replicant (bishounen lead) for the XBox 360. The Nier in the former would play as Yonah’s dad, and the latter, Yonah’s brother. The head honchos in America thought releasing this in two versions wasn’t cost-effective so they just went with the safer, non-incest suggestive Gestalt for both platforms. Hurrah for ugly old guy lead!
Here’s pretty much the awesome, juicy, plot-twisty and spoily part of the story:
As Yonah’s illness, the Black Scrawl, is terminal, Nier sets out to look for a cure. As he does, Nier fatefully meets with Grimoire Weiss, a talking flying book powered with magic of ages past. In their search they encounter the hot-tempered, foul-mouthed Kainé; and a blindfolded young boy, Emil, whose eyes petrify anyone they see. After journeying for a time, the village is attacked by a giant shade; the battle culminates in Yonah being carried away by a master Shade that suddenly appears—the Shadowlord—who carries his own book, Grimoire Noir.
The game then jumps five years forward. After locating the Shadowlord’s domain, they seek out to defeat him. There, it is explained to them that over 1300 years prior, humanity faced extinction due to an incurable disease. In an attempt to survive, they separated their souls from their bodies using Grimoire Noir and Weiss. They created clones resistant to the disease, Replicants, and intended to recombine the souls, or Gestalts, with the Replicant bodies once it had died out. Over time, the Replicants had begun to form their own identities, while the Gestalts, or Shades, had grown aggressive to them.
Basically, the Nier we control now in the game is just a clone of the Nier from 1312 years prior, also now known as the ‘evil’ Shadowlord. He just want to get his body, is all. Is it so wrong to get what is originally his?
Quite the plot twist, eh? It makes you think whose side should you really be on. For starters, the moral implications of good and evil will be null and void since the supposed-to-be evil guys, the shades / Gestalts, were the original humans who created the clones / Replicants, to save humanity. It’s just tragic that the Replicants began to develop their own identities, stirring up the problem that started it all. Are the Gestalts to blame for overlooking this mistake? Anyway, speaking of plot twists…
This is the hot-tempered, foul-mouthed Kainé mentioned earlier. While it does seem weird to see this scantily clad heroine busting weird-shaped shades with her saw-toothed swords and dirty obscenities, all the while wearing a wardrobe that looks like a kinky night gown, this will be the least of the guys’ problems.
“Goddamn, no good, bullshit bastard!” -Kainé
Most people will certainly agree she’s smokin’ hot, with her profanities as an added plus for the masochists out there…but she’s intersex. Originally a female, she somehow ‘grew’ dude parts down there after being possessed by a shade in a near-death experience. This explains her bandages on her left limbs- they were literally cut off at some point in her life and the shade, named Tyrann, restored it for her. They made a deal that he will keep her alive, and Kainé will give her body to him once she has gotten her revenge.
Not a very enticing point-blank crotch shot of manly parts
Like any other modern hack-and-slash, you’ll get to fight monsters as tall as buildings with its little minions swarming around to irritate you, cause panic, and yeah, kill you. Eventually.
Besides wielding one-handed swords, two-handed swords and spears, all with varying attack moves, Nier is granted by Grimoire Weiss magical powers called Sealed Verses. There are a total of eight, and they make the fighting all the more fun. These are the red thingys Nier uses when in battle- Dark Blast, Dark Lance, Dark Hand, Dark Phantasm, Dark Gluttony, Dark Wall, Dark Execution and Dark Whirlwind.
Another thing I loved about Nier is the versatile gameplay- in some locations and dungeons, the camera angles and perspectives would change, turning it to somewhat like a mini-game.
Got nothing to do? Immerse yourself with Nier’s 100 sidequests, including being a hired hunter, detective, courier, fisherman, crop farmer, junk collector, what have you! You’re literally an odd-jobs man in the game.
Out of all the games I played, Nier is the closest I got to having a Platinum Trophy- 81%. I don’t know if it’s that easy, or I just got really immersed in the game. Although I do say it is awesome and interesting, there are noticeable flaws that pop out and make it the underrated game that it is. Graphics, no doubt, is subpar in its time. There are problems in gameplay execution in some parts (there are a couple of scenes that will just make you read A TON of slow-paced paragraphs to progress the story.) Plotholes? A lot, too. But yeah, the 10/10 music, 10/10 voice acting and 10/10 story core make up for it.
Overall, it’s certainly a must-play for all you JRPG fans out there! :)