-Kris “Kaz” Sturm
“Weiss, you dumbass! Start making sense, you rotten book, or you're gonna be sorry! Maybe I'll rip your pages out one-by-one, or maybe I'll put you in the Goddamn furnace! How can someone with such a big, smart brain get hypnotized like a little bitch, huh?! Oh, Shadowlord! I love you, Shadowlord! Come over here and give Weiss a big sloppy kiss, Shadowlord! Now pull your head out of your Goddamn ass and START FUCKING HELPING US!” (Watch the above video between 18:47 and 19:18 for context. To give fair warning, much else is a massive spoiler.)
What better way to show how well your teammates respect each other. The opening line is said at the opening of the game Nier in which Kaine is yelling at “use my full and proper name” Grimoire Weiss towards the end of the first half of the game. It seems a little out of place once someone starts up the game, however as time passes and the player goes through the motions, they notice it’s a pretty bad spoiler opening; strangely though, it never seems to get old. It could just be me though.
After the lovely tirade, we start up our game and see the world as it could be. Cold. Dark. Solitary. Such is the year 2030 as we see our main character leaned against a bookcase with his only form of defense being a rusty metal pipe. He’s trying to defend his sickly daughter from these dark beings known as shades and the only thing he wants to see is his daughter getting better and tells her to not touch a strange book which is inexplicably in his possession. The only food left in their possession is a lone cookie. It’s pretty grim. Fun fact; all of this snow is in SUMMER due to a massive climate shift.
Sure enough, a cluster of shades appears after the scene between father and daughter and we’re left to try and clear through this crowd as it comes along. The enemies are thankfully easy and we can mow through them like Sora in Kingdom Hearts II in the ‘1 vs. 1000’ sequence. Only new levels and powers get unlocked as we kill more and more of these shades. Thankfully, it serves a purpose by giving us a taste of power and allows the player to get a feel for what skills they’re more likely to use later on as the game progresses (personal picks are the Dark Lance and the Dark Hand).
As the last shade falls, we see our protagonist go back to his daughter with urgency as he tries to see if she’s ok, only to see her frail being struggling to try and give her father half of the last of that ONE cookie they have left for food. It’s only later on that the player comes to the realization that the father has been starving himself on a regular basis just to see his daughter get the slightest bit of nutrition in her system. Unfortunately, her coughing takes over her and she drops the last of the food and dies of the Black Scrawl Virus in her father’s arms, leaving him to cry out in vain for someone, ANYONE, to come to their aid.
1312 years pass and we see some familiar faces; our main character is with his daughter Yonah and from this point onward, it plays as your standard RPG. Nier can go get quests to progress the story or do menial chores for the countless incompetent people that can’t go and get their own medicinal herbs or mutton. To put it bluntly, only a handful are actually mandatory whereas a multitude of others including the mind-numbingly annoying and mildly difficult fishing quests are optional. Theoretically, you can complete the game without doing a damn one; with exception to the first few tasks given by Popola to progress the story.
After roughly an hour to an hour and a half into gameplay, we’re introduced to the lush world that makes up Nier. Thankfully limited in design, Square Enix works towards making a streamlined title by giving the player a limited amount of areas to work with:
-Village (the one with no name)
-Lost Shrine (you’ll be going to this broken down temple at least three times)
-Aerie (city of shut-in assholes)
-Seafront (a cozy city with beaches and a lighthouse and an old man who teaches you how to fish)
-The Junk Heap (two brothers living alone in a shack in a sandy and metal wasteland)
-Façade (the place with at THOUSANDS of rules and with at least ten rules on how to wipe your own ass and counting)
Given its apparent obscure nature, I’ll can any summarizing from this point forth, which to be fair is something I should do more often in my reviews (when I play online, I do look at other players' played games lists from their gamer cards. You have been notified. ಠ_ಠ ).
As a whole, the construct of Nier was very well put together. It had good graphics for when games were going through that transitory period of graphics altering (e.g. “stringy, strawlike” hair) and only had the occasional graphic overlay. The fighting system itself was solid and was pretty on-par with the standard hack-and-slash game genre mixed with a bit of Touhou while incorporating all the traditional elements of an RPG and a story which came off phenomenal for me BECAUSE of how it’s geared. Throughout the course of the game, while not necessarily explicit, has SEVERAL tones to make it quite the depressant.
The whole point of the game can essentially be boiled down to a father just doing every possible thing he can in order to make his sickly daughter happy. It pulled on my heartstrings and I loved the depressive tones that continually showed just BECAUSE there was no happy ending. I’ve started to grow tired of games that create an idyllic Shangri-La happy ending because in all honesty, the real world doesn’t work that way. Most of the time, you’ll be living in a crapsack world and you have to make the best of it. Nier went above and beyond my initial expectations and I would recommend this bargain bin gem to any players.
Reviewed by: Kris “Kaz” Sturm
Reviewer Rating: 5/5
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