Nier: Replicant is a shape-shifter. It makes you assume it’s a easy motion roleplaying recreation set in a bleak fantasy universe, however steadily reveals itself to be much more. It’s a recreation that shifts wildly in each tone and play model. It’s bizarre and heartbreaking, irritating and playful, typically all on the identical time. This launch can be a second probability for a recreation that failed to succeed in an enormous viewers when it first launched in 2010, now up to date for contemporary tastes. It nonetheless requires slightly persistence — but it surely’s price placing up with some clunky gameplay to seek out all that Replicant has to supply.
If the Nier identify sounds acquainted, it’s most likely due to Nier: Automata, a 2017 action-RPG from director Yoko Taro and studio PlatinumGames that grew to become a shock hit. Its mix of tight motion, haunting storytelling, and downright absurdity helped it attain an viewers of greater than 5 million gamers. It additionally renewed curiosity within the unique Nier, therefore this new launch, which has been given the extremely awkward-but-fitting title Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… This model isn’t precisely a full remake however as a substitute an up to date model that sands off a number of the unique’s tough edges.
Replicant will not be a simple recreation to clarify. The story begins out within the close to future, the place some type of plague is decimating humanity; it then fast-forwards a couple of thousand years right into a future when the world is just about unrecognizable. There are parts of a standard post-apocalyptic panorama, just like the ruins of our society, however the world of Nier extra carefully resembles a fantasy realm with magic and monsters and many large swords.
The fascinating world is a big a part of the enchantment, and also you’ll spend plenty of time crisscrossing it over the course of Replicant. It’s bleak and desolate, with small pockets of humanity nonetheless surviving. The sport places you within the function of a younger fighter on a determined mission to treatment his sister, who’s struggling from a wierd and mysterious illness that’s steadily spreading all through the world, which additionally occurs to be coping with an onslaught of darkish monsters referred to as shades. It’s a harmful place, and also you’re ultimately joined by a solid of characters together with a speaking spell ebook, a warrior perpetually wearing lingerie, and a younger boy with magical powers.
In some methods, Replicant is sort of a conventional fantasy RPG. You’re on an epic quest — which ultimately contains not solely discovering a treatment however combating the massive baddie in command of all of the monsters — and alongside the best way you’ll purchase new talents and weapons. However these aren’t the issues that make Replicant attention-grabbing. It’s when the sport goes in sudden instructions that it’s at its finest. You’ll go to unusual cities, together with one the place the residents strictly observe hundreds of guidelines, and one other the place everybody refuses to depart their properties.
Essentially the most jarring moments, although, are when the sport shifts genres. That features exploring an underground analysis facility as in case you had been taking part in an isometric RPG like Diablo, and slinking your means by a Resident Evil-style haunted mansion. At one level, Replicant principally turns into a novel the place you learn by a city’s shared hallucination. When the sport returns to its customary motion setup, it’s like waking up from a surreal dream.
I didn’t play the unique Nier, so probably the most that I can say concerning the adjustments on this new model is that the sport now feels quite a bit like Automata — which is to say it’s a largely trendy motion recreation with quick and frantic fight, huge bosses, and an appropriately dreary world to discover. However regardless of the revamped visuals and gameplay, Replicant nonetheless has some dated parts. For one factor, it’s very repetitive; you’ll be happening plenty of fetch quests and combating numerous, almost similar shades alongside the best way. These quests are sometimes attention-grabbing narratively, however there are solely so many occasions you possibly can run throughout the identical open area earlier than it begins to get boring, particularly for the reason that recreation typically forces you to revisit places a number of occasions.
It’s price pushing by these mundane moments, although, as a result of very like Automata, Replicant is totally full of fascinating, heartbreaking moments. There are large, apparent ones — characters sacrificing themselves for his or her pals or the torture of watching somebody battle with sickness — however at occasions it looks like each second in Replicant is tinged with unhappiness. There are twists that can make you query your individual actions, and others that can fully change the way you view a personality. Hell, even the weapons have attention-grabbing tales; every new sword you get comes with its personal transient snippet of lore.
It’s this heartfelt component that makes Replicant price experiencing (a number of occasions, if you need the total story). It could be clunky in locations, and uncomfortable in others, however as soon as you compromise into its unusual rhythm, there’s actually nothing else prefer it — effectively, except for Automata. However that is precisely what it’s best to play in case you’re craving extra of Taro’s distinctive imaginative and prescient.
Nier: Replicant is out now on the PS4, Xbox One, and Steam.