Nier is game that I would never have considered playing because of the critical panning it received and the fact that it was associated with Square Enix who have really gone downhill in the last few years. I have to give a big thanks to everyone on the Hardcore Gaming 101 forums for recommending this game. I would never have taken a chance on this game otherwise.
Nier is one of the most interesting games to be released this generation. It might look like a generic hack and slash but that’s only half of what the game offers. It’s a surprising mish mash of genres that shouldn’t work but gels together wonderfully. One minute you are engaged in hack and slash fights when the camera changes and the game starts to resemble something closer to a twin stick shooter. There’s a schizophrenic mix of genres present from box pushing puzzle games to even a text based adventure section. What makes this all work so well is how the game transitions seamlessly between them. Nier’s hack and slash sections may not be as technical as Bayonetta but are nonetheless fun if a bit simplistic. It does however have some of the best boss battles in a long time, all of them are a joy to fight.
What really made Nier standout for me was the quality of the writing. Nier has one of the best written storylines for a game I’ve ever played. Make sure you also explore the new game + mode which cleverly manages to take everything you thought you knew about the story and completely turn it on its head. I’ll say no more because to do so would spoil it but it you are interested in good narrative in videogames then Nier is one of the very best. Unfortunately a lot of the material on the Nier universe was contained in a pack in book with the Japanese release that wasn’t made available in the English language release. However when you beat the game and wish to find out more there is a google documents translation project that has translated it in its entirety. It’s not essential to the understanding of the story but is recommended reading for people who have finished the game and want to learn more.
Complimenting the excellent plot is a wonderful cast of characters. The English voice acting by all concerned is top notch especially the band of misfits that eventually end up traveling with Nier. Special mention has to be given to Weiss and Kaine and their respective voice actors Liam O’Brien and Laura Bailey. Weiss, the pompous and aloof talking magical book, and Kaine, the foul mouthed lingerie wearing female party member, are wonderful and their voice actors give fantastic performances. The chemistry between these two characters is the best I’ve experienced in a game since Trode and Yangus in Dragon Quest VIII and will raise just as many laughs, particularly how Weiss refers to Kaine as a ‘Hussy’. They’re not just there for laughs though. I’ve mentioned before that I love strong female characters and Kaine is one of the best. She might seem like nothing more than eye candy considering the clothes she wears, or lack thereof, but she is by far the deepest, interesting and most messed up character in the game. Sure they even explain why she dresses like a ‘Hussy’ as well. The localisation by 8-4 as a whole is stellar.
|Did I mention how much ass Kaine kicks?|
For the price that Nier is now going for it would be a crying shame if you missed out on this wonderful game. It’s up there with Deadly Premonition as one of the most interesting games released this generation. Although it’s much lower budget than most of todays blockbusters the developer Cavia makes up for it with some great art design and some exceptionally well directed cutscenes. It’s unfortunate that Cavia went bust after this game and how poorly the press treated this game because I think if given a budget that this talented group of people could have made something truly exceptional, although to be honest, with Nier they already have.
One last thing I have to mention is how amazing the soundtrack is. It’s by far the best videogame soundtrack of this generation. Sit back and have a look at this trailer for Nier which contains some of that music. I hope it convinces you to take a chance on it like I did: