NieR:Automata

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NuKaholic
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NieR:Automata

Post by NuKaholic » January 18th, 2018, 4:18 pm

A lot of positive word of mouth has prompted me to give Nier Automata another shot. I'm really glad I did and it's the top contender for my favorite game of 2017. I'm nearing what feels like the end? I know there are multiple play throughs to get the real ending but there are like 20 endings?!?! Can anyone guide me to getting the true "good" ending with as few spoilers as possible? I'm even down for replays if that's what it takes but I don't wanna be running around getting fail state endings. I still have Persona 5 and Horizon to get through. Really appreciate if someone can give me a nudge in the right direction. Thanks!

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KSubzero1000
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Re: Nier Automata

Post by KSubzero1000 » January 18th, 2018, 5:47 pm

I have not played it myself, but I did find this guide which provides the exact requirements for all 26 endings.

I've taken the liberty of copying the section focusing on the main endings, so at to minimize the risk of you accidentally running into spoilers. It looks like you will have to play the game four or five consecutive times in order to see the last and "optimal" ending, though:
Ending A : Beat the game once in Route A.
Ending B : Beat the game once again in Route B after loading the save file that reached Ending A.
Ending C : Load the save file that reached Ending A and Ending B to begin Route C. During the final battle in this playthrough, select A2 during the final battle.
Ending D : Load the save file that reached Ending A and Ending B to begin Route C. During the final battle in this playthrough, select 9S during the final battle.
Ending E : Watch Ending D again after seeing both Ending C and Ending D in Route C. Accept Pod 042's request.

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Re: NieR:Automata

Post by Stanshall » January 18th, 2018, 8:04 pm

Just to clarify, it's more like three playthroughs with endings D and E available by just reloading right before the last meaningful action of ending C.

I'd also say that routes A, B and C are very different from a NG+ type of thing, or even a Telltale type pick a different option replay. They're markedly different but I won't spoil anything. They're more like three chapters of a story, I suppose, and ending A is by no means the ending, in the same way that a chapter can resolve without the being the grand finale.

Your gear etc carries over (with in-game justification) and while route A is the longest, B and C are each between six and ten hours, probably, depending on how much side stuff you do.

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NuKaholic
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Re: NieR:Automata

Post by NuKaholic » January 20th, 2018, 4:25 am

Okay thanks! I got through route A&B and I'm well into C. C is honestly kicking my ass lol but I'm still really enjoying the game. Insanely fun. Thanks again!

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NieR:Automata

Post by JaySevenZero » January 13th, 2019, 1:01 pm

Here's where you can contribute your memories and opinions of NieR: Automata for potential inclusion in the forthcoming podcast.

Friendly reminder to all that where feedback for the podcast is concerned, we love it - but self-editing (brevity) is appreciated. We do want to include a breadth of opinions where appropriate, but no-one wants a discussion podcast that’s mainly reading. Better to save yourself time and cut to the chase if you can.

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Re: 356: NieR: Automata

Post by PocketCircuitFighter » January 19th, 2019, 3:51 am

It's hard to sell a game to someone and say, "You have to play it multiple times to really get it". My co-worker did just that and I beat Nier Automata...once. And then I started route B and played for a few hours and then stopped. I found it too similar to the first playthrough, found the new content lacking. Then four months passed and I came down with the flu. In my sad sick state with too much free time, I decided to pick up from playthrough B again to see what my disappointed co-worker had been nagging me about.
And wow am I happy I did that. What an amazing game Nier:Automata is. It's drenched in this existentialist dread that, while at times tacky, ties in so well with the story telling. The music is astounding. It's aburd, it's funny, it's sad, it's human, and it's robotic. It made me emotional and it made me think about different perspectives. 2B and 9s. Those first few interactions felt so meaningless yet they mean so much to me now. It made me make difficult descions (poor old Pascal), Having all those names appear on screen and not knowing what it really meant only to give you the option to return the favor...it brought me to tears.
Now I'm the one going around work telling any of my co-workers who solicit video game advice to play Nier:Automata. And I tell them "You have to play it multiple times to really get it". And if they stop playing on the following playthroughs I'll keep telling them they should really at least get through the second playthrough. The cycle continues.

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Re: 356: NieR: Automata

Post by Jobobonobo » January 20th, 2019, 8:06 pm

Over the last few years, there have been many games that I have loved to bits but NieR Automata has accomplished something that all those other games regardless of their high quality have failed to do in well over a decade: after finishing the game I went and replayed it straight again. They were different choices I missed, side quests I completely ignored. I wanted to see everything this bleak but beautiful world offered to me. For a modern game, its world is surprisingly small but each corner is filled with new surprises, the world changes as the story does and the stories of the inhabitants reveal that both androids and machines are complex, feeling beings with their own fears and desires. This world felt truly alive.

There are people who are able to discuss Automata’s story far more eloquently than I could but what I will say about it is that this game communicated a feeling that games have, in my recollection, never elicited in me: depression. Route C is legitimately emotionally draining in a way that really took me by surprise. The way that things just got worse and worse until the very end was something that really made me question if things were going to ever turn for the better. There was this genuine uncertainty that crept in as I kept playing and it only made me want to keep going. I had to know how this ends! And the true ending itself is one of the most bitter-sweet and powerful I have yet to encounter in gaming. Instead of being straightforward “good has triumphed over evil”, it sombrely says “There is a chance we can get out of this destructive and meaningless cycle, the odds are slim but a better future is possible”.

Especially worthy of praise is the soundtrack. Its dynamic use of adding and removing instruments or vocals as you travel its environments gives rise to a lovely mix of an ever evolving sound with some truly memorable underlying melodies. Just humming a few notes from NieR Automata and I could tell you when and where it took place in the game. Alongside others such as Undertale, it is one of the few modern games where from just one listen I knew this would be as fondly remembered as the soundtracks of Final Fantasy or Zelda games.

NieR Automata is an absolute triumph in terms of gameplay, world building, story and music. With Platinum behind the helm, the combat is an absolute delight, your characters move with sublime agility and the mix of genres it presents is melded together quite deftly to create a wonderfully cohesive experience. It has easily entered into my top ten list of favourite games of all time and it epitomises the incredible narrative potential games as a medium are capable of. Whatever will come out of Yoko Taro’s head next, I cannot wait.

Three word review: Machines are adorable.

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Re: 356: NieR: Automata

Post by Nyx-Fontana » January 22nd, 2019, 12:35 am

When I first played through Nier Automata last year it left me feeling very conflicted. At first the game wasn't even on my radar until friends of mine brought it to my attention, proudly saying that it was one of the best games they'd played this generation. I was unconvinced, but as I began to research the game on my own and look at player accounts and experiences being expressed in other forums I found that for the most part the people who had given the game a chance had ended up falling in love with Automata in some way. Some people even went so far as to say that the game changed their lives, as well as how they saw video games as a medium. Needless to say I gradually became more and more interested in the game and decided to play it myself.

Right off the bat i have to say that the soundtrack for the game is downright amazing, and only gets better as the game progresses. It's beautiful, captivating, and haunting in a way that will make some of the songs linger in your mind well after the game ends.

However, when it came to the gameplay of Automata it was very functional but lacked a certain amount of depth. Seeing as the game was developed by Platinum Games, who also provided us with Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, i was expecting the combat to have a wide assortment of combos to perform and weapons to use. There are quite a few weapons to choose from, however the combos that you are able to perform are very basic. Maybe i just didnt experiment enough with the different chips and skills, but i felt no desire to dig deep into the mechanics, i just used what seemed to be working and went on with my quest. Despite my disappointment with the combat, i did like how Automata changed the type of gameplay throughout each of the different routes of the game. From 9s' hacking mini games to the Touhou style of the flying mech battles, it was a nice change of pace from just straight up combat. Though none of these gameplay elements were in depth, they did a great job of implementing story mechanics through the gameplay itself.

Where the game kind of lost me was in its story. Routes A and B were a real struggle for me to get through, not necessarily because the story being told was bad per say, but rather it felt 'just ok'. I went into it knowing that in order to get the full story i would have to play through all of the routes, but by the time i finished Route B i was bored out of my mind and did not care about any of the characters outside of 9s and Pascal. The same feeling plagued me during the side quests of the game as well, which had you traversing the beautiful, yet empty world for longer stretches than i would have liked. I ended up selling the game shortly after, and did not return to it until i saw that it was on sale during a PS Plus Holiday special.

Route C was the turning point for me in the sense that it made me want to see the game through to the end. There is a certain scene in this route involving 9s and a bridge that just hit me like a fist in the stomach, i cannot stress enough how well the voice acting and directing was done for that scene. It is at this point where the game i feel begins to reveal its true colors, and it had me wondering where all of this would lead in the end. By the time i reached the credits of Route E i was glad that i had stuck through the game to the end, but i still couldnt help be feel like something was missing. I did not feel the wow moment that others did once they completed the game, but rather a 'Well that was interesting.' before going on to other stuff. I think there is a message that the game or rather its creator, Yoko Taro, is trying to say but at the time that message went completely over my head.

In retrospect i think Nier Automata is a game that anyone who is interested in philosophy or deep abstract concepts should at least try and experience for themselves to see if it clicks with them. The idea of whether or not a 'God' exists, or if anything we do in this life even matters are some of the more interesting themes that the game gives acute commentary on among other interesting existential topics. For anyone that plans on playing Nier Automata I would recommend playing it in bit sized pieces, as though the music is great and the story and gameplay are functional it can get very repetitive if you play it for long stretches of time. Allow yourself to savor the game like a fine wine, giving yourself time to think about what the game is trying to say to you, the player.
I'm hoping to take my own advice when i play through the game again this year, im very curious to see if my opinion on it will change now that i know what i am getting into.

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Re: 356: NieR: Automata

Post by obviousbeth » January 22nd, 2019, 7:57 pm

So excited that this is part of Volume 8! Can't wait to hear what everyone thinks about it.

Nier: Automata has consistently been on my mind since I first beat it mid-2017. I listen to the soundtrack constantly (which is easy, there's so many versions to choose from) and have picked up the World Guide and Strategy guide even though my Japanese is rubbish.

However, beyond the art, gameplay, and music, this game holds a special place in my heart because of its story and philosophy; it forced me to face my very real anxieties about existence and prompted me into seeking help in finding my own meaning in life. 2B and 9S go through much of the game believing that they are fighting for Mankind, only to find out that not only are the aliens dead, Mankind is too! And when the aliens, humans, and YoRHa are gone, what is it that keeps them moving forward?

And why do we exist anyway? What is -our- purpose? I'm just 1 blip on the Earth, in the whole universe, so what possible point could my life have if there isn't a higher power to grant it?

It goes without saying that Ending E devastated me: fighting so hard against the creators to give the characters another chance at meaning and life. You realize you're fighting a losing battle, but with each loss you see the words of encouragement and finally the offer of help and think that juuust maybe it's possible to beat this.

All the while 'Weight of the World' is playing on repeat in the background, pushing you on. Eventually more voices are added to the song until it seems that everyone in the game is cheering you on (in fact, I think it's said that the entire Development team is part of the additional chorus).

It's hard to rationalize why the ending upset me, but I suppose it's because it was so overwhelming and hopeful to see that life doesn't have to be meaningless, and that you don't have to be alone in it. Life is hard but we can get through it together. You don't need to rely on a higher being for meaning; you can create your own.

Anyway, I'm relieved that there was a positive reaction to Nier: Automata from the video game community. I can't wait to see what Yoko Taro and the team come out with next, hopefully partnered with Platinum again!

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Re: 356: NieR: Automata

Post by leroy_lemon » January 23rd, 2019, 2:15 am

(If one game was ever gunna drag me out of perpetual Cane & Rinse lurker-hood and into the forums, it's...)

Nier: Automata

Nier: Automata epitomises a work of art worth ten times the sum of its parts. Like any impressionist painting, Automata can appear vague and fuzzy upon close scrutiny of any of its individual components (well, other than the immaculate soundtrack); but seen as a whole, it offers a truly unique, beautiful and memorable videogame experience.

What really distinguishes the core loop of Automata is how seamlessly and fluidly it combines its disparate gameplay styles. From 2D platformer to 3D adventure game, from bullet-hell shooter to action-RPG; nothing seems tacked on, nothing feels out of place, and nothing outstays its welcome.

The hack-'n'-slash combat system is clearly the stand-out gameplay element in isolation; Platinum Games' involvement forming the key distinction between this and the original Nier from 2010. Automata makes good on its predecessor's towering ambitions by grafting Yoko Taro's magical madness onto an undeniably stylish and viscerally satisfying game.

The sparse and extremely grey semi-open world is a tad underwhelming at first, chock-full of invisible walls and slightly buggy geometry. But there's a special moment when the stunning, mournful soundtrack clicks with the dilapidated environment, and the full weight of the deep, existential sadness of the broken world truly hits home.

Perhaps the game's only true failure - and it's an infinitesimally small one - is its negligence in suitably telegraphing to the average player how vital it is to play beyond the first roll of credits. The 'A' playthrough possibly oversells itself as the core experience of the game, the 'B' ostensibly a new game plus mode - something best left for the diehards, the completionists, or the trophy hunters. Everybody's heard somebody's version of the surface level Nier: Automata experience somewhere.

I'd go as far as to say that the credits after ending 'A' are unnecessary and misleading, were it not for how they set up the absurd and wonderful dev-blasting credit-shoot-em-up finale of ending 'E'.

And it doesn't take a completionist or a trophy hunter to understand just how vital the subsequent endings are to the game once they've been experienced. Playing beyond that first errant credit roll to the game's true end turns a quirky, slightly befuddling and plot-hole-ridden action game into a truly emotionally hard-hitting piece of artistic existential discourse.

If there was any life at all left in the 'can games be art?' debate, Nier: Automata would surely be the final nail in the coffin of 'NO'. It will linger deep in my heart and mind for years to come.

-Leon C. (yes, another one)

Three word review: Existential Despair Simulator

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Re: 356: NieR: Automata

Post by Magical_Isopod » January 23rd, 2019, 3:15 am

One very important thing to preface about Nier Automata to the uninitiated observer: Everything that happens in this game is simpler and requires less explanation than you may think.

Firstly, Nier Automata isn't *really* about anime androids fighting anime robots for any specific purpose - the struggle core to the game's story is almost something of a blank slate to wax philosophical. The war doesn't matter - no one knows why they're fighting, no one knows what the end goal is, the only thing anyone in this universe knows is that they are fighting, and that they are meant to fight.

The player enters this endless cycle of combat at a very special moment - when a spark of sentience suddenly awakens in our heroes, 2B and 9S. When the game starts, they are very much emotionless dolls... But by the end, they are very much mortal beings.

But that's really about as much detail is required to understand what the game is all about - it's, very broadly, about life. While we do follow a handful of core characters on a fairly straightforward journey, the whole game exists more as a framework to ponder and wax philosophical. The folks behind the writing of this game seemingly don't want to tell you what to think: They very blatantly introduce concepts from philosophy, often invoking names like Sartre and Engels, and using direct quotes from authors like Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky. But much like the android dolls you pilot in this world, you are meant to observe these ideas, take what you will from them, and grow as an individual. The game is incredibly non-judgmental in this sense - no one is truly evil, and no one fights for justice. They fight because that is what is expected of a AAA video game. No one is truly right or wrong, and every character takes the knowledge they glean from the world around them to forge their own paths and personalities - much like every human does as they grow as individuals.

Nier Automata can be a very frustrating game for those expecting a straightforward narrative and clear answers to every bit of minutae... But to those who don't mind taking a deep dive into abstract philosophical concepts portrayed through allegory and visual metaphor, I think you will enjoy this game immensely. Just make sure to finish Ending E.

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Re: 356: NieR: Automata

Post by Sage + Onion Knight » January 25th, 2019, 9:20 am

For starters: anyone who's on the fence due to having to replay the game multiple times - it really feels more like changing discs in an old Final Fantasy game than it does starting the game four times (each "playthrough" is very different and progresses the story in its own way). I sometimes imagine though what it would have been like, if there hadn't been that little message at the end of the game -- how long would I have gone before nostalgically replaying it and realising I still had three-quarters of the game left to play.

Anyway: speaking of Final Fantasy, playing Nier: Automata (partly as escapism during a stressful period of working on a dissertation) brought back loads of those feelings of playing FF7 as a kid -- the mystery and scope of the game world, the story it's telling, and the way it tells it. It's a game I didn't think would be possible in this day and age: something with the scope and production values of a big blockbuster game, and the ambitions, experimentation, and authored feel of an indie.

There's a lot I could say about this game, but in the interests of brevity - I think what I consider to be at the heart of Nier: Automata is how its sardonically (and occasionally hilariously) bleak outlook on humanity and war is juxtaposed against the beauty and serenity of its destroyed setting. It probably hasn't even been a year since I completed this game, and yet I already have such a strong sense of nostalgia for it - and it's definitely got me back into Japanese console games in a big way.

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Re: 356: NieR: Automata

Post by Magical_Isopod » January 25th, 2019, 12:29 pm

Sage + Onion Knight wrote:
January 25th, 2019, 9:20 am
For starters: anyone who's on the fence due to having to replay the game multiple times - it really feels more like changing discs in an old Final Fantasy game than it does starting the game four times (each "playthrough" is very different and progresses the story in its own way).
I would argue that Route B is almost completely pointless is a lot of ways, and I think it's a brick wall to many players advancing because, on the surface, it seems more like a New Game + option than actually continuing the narrative - like, all the best stuff happens in Route C, and 9S is just brutally unlikeable... I feel like it's maybe there deliberately to be a demotivator? It's weird.

Also, have you seen Super Bunnyhop's analysis of Near A Tomato from the lens of existentialist philosophy? It's a really interesting essay piece - he posits that the machines are meant to be allegorical for the Japanese work class, literally destroying themselves when they come to the realization that the one thing they are built to be good at in life, they are still not as good as the player at. It's good stuff.

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Re: Our next-but-one podcast recording (22.2.19) - 356: NieR:Automata

Post by MarkHoog » January 27th, 2019, 3:23 pm

So much has been written about Nier: Automata that I feel reluctant to add anything here. I mean, how much of what I say will actually be me? Won’t I simply be emulating other people’s feelings and opinions using slightly different words – trying way too hard 2B unique? Define myself? Also, how to reliably share thoughts (if they even are thoughts) on a game I played nearly two years ago? I was a different person then, so what gives me the right to speak for someone else? And if I could somehow transfer the experience freshly into my current self, what would it be but data? What remains of a memory without the passage of time?

Heck, I don’t know. What I do know is that Nier: Automata is one of the most astonishing video games I have ever played.

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Re: Our next-but-one podcast recording (22.2.19) - 356: NieR:Automata

Post by delb2k » January 29th, 2019, 10:10 am

Most titles that I play incur feelings that range from excited to bored, but few ever really touch me. Few manage to make me have a visceral emotional reaction to what I am seeing, what I am doing. Nier Automata gave me a sensation which resulted in a huge outpouring of conflicting emotions by the end. Despair and triumph, sadness and empathy are not traits that come to me easily while I play but I was mentally exhausted when the final credits were being blown away.

Very few games have managed to draw me in so much, managed to align my feelings with those of the avatars on screen so well. The multiple playthroughs, especially A and B, gave me the chance to truly immerse myself in each of the characters storylines and the revelations within those. I felt just as angry as 9S by the end of route E, frustrated at the death of 2B and howling at a world which had become a lie to service creators who no longer existed. I completely understood his desire to lash out, in fact his need to. His juxtaposition of seeing life in machines next to the rigidness of 9S’s strict mission directive provided me the chance to question whether what we were doing was even right, and with the introduction of Pascal this unease is only strengthened. And the ending, with the soundtrack building up, gave me one of my most euphoric moments I have ever had in gaming.

What also helped was the fantastic score and solidly engaging combat. The chip system allowed a degree of tactical planning and the dodge effect, much like Bayonetta, felt absolutely spot on. In fact the only real slight against the game would possibly be the visuals, but they incurred a particular charm for me as well. I think this is a very special game and while I know it won’t have widespread appeal this is this sort of title that made me fall in love with the medium.

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Re: Our next-but-one podcast recording (22.2.19) - 356: NieR:Automata

Post by Bakers_12 » January 29th, 2019, 12:46 pm

I have conflicted feelings about this game. When I first started to play it I had very limited time with most cases only an hour to fit in any gaming. My first play after the short shoting section , I was into the game proper and was out of time so turned off the PS4 for another time. When I came back another day I was back at the shoting section again! I desovered that there was no saving till after the opening level a bit of an issue if you don’t have much time to devote to it. Still I stuck with trying to blitz the opening in the time I had, but that opening is no cake walk. I had died many times on that opening. When I finally passed that frustrating opening section the game clicked with me I enjoyed the gameplay, setting & style of the game. The combat whilst at times hard I enjoyed the challenge and moving to a new area brought new interesting sights and sounds. Then towards the end of the storyline I hit a wall in the form of a boss that I could not beat. Once I had died a few times and had lost my upgrades the hard tack of taking that robot monstrosity out was even harder. I never beat it

People say that to get the most from this game you need to play several playthoughs, I will never know. This is an amazing game but for me my experience is bookended by struggles to progress and fun.

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Re: Our next-but-one podcast recording (22.2.19) - 356: NieR:Automata

Post by Stanshall » January 31st, 2019, 5:49 am

MarkHoog wrote:
January 27th, 2019, 3:23 pm
So much has been written about Nier: Automata that I feel reluctant to add anything here. I mean, how much of what I say will actually be me? Won’t I simply be emulating other people’s feelings and opinions using slightly different words – trying way too hard 2B unique? Define myself? Also, how to reliably share thoughts (if they even are thoughts) on a game I played nearly two years ago? I was a different person then, so what gives me the right to speak for someone else? And if I could somehow transfer the experience freshly into my current self, what would it be but data? What remains of a memory without the passage of time?
Tremendous post. Nailed it.

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Re: Our next podcast recording (9.2.19) - 356: NieR:Automata

Post by Nupraptor » February 5th, 2019, 4:56 am

I bought Nier Automata a few months after release.
The game was getting a lot of positive buzz and there was the suggestion that they were doing something different: that this game was unique in the kind of story it was telling and the themes it was covering. I remember that The Guardian had an article that described it as a "weird game for weird people" which I think is a quote from Yoko Taro himself. Sign me up!
It took me three attempts to get through this game before I completed it (or at least, got all the "main" endings.) The reason for that is that I find the game frankly....depressing.
On the surface, the game is about anime robots being at war with clunky retro robots in the future. I'm down with that. In reality, the game is a sort of bleak satire on the human condition. There are all these tragic, doomed robots, abandoned by their creators and desperately trying to find some meaning to their existence. They go about it in tragically poignant ways, trying to find meaning and value in life in the way that humans do: family, love, community, religion.....and it always ends in tragedy, madness and death.
The music and environments all add to the depressing atmosphere. The desert section in particular, really got to me. The wailing song that plays in the background and the bleak, ruined landscape and muted colours. It was a struggle to keep going.
The first time I played Nier Automata, I got as far as the desert section and then had to stop due to overwhelming boredom and despair. I went away and played something more fun, maybe Mario Odyssey and then came back a few weeks later when I had cheered up a bit
The second time, I came back and played through to the first main ending and then stopped again, partially due to the overwhelming ennui and malaise that this game causes, but also because I quite naturally thought that I'd finished it.
I went away and played something more cheery and upbeat again - maybe it was Dark Souls this time. ANYTHING is less bleak than Nier Automata. I didn't think I'd come back to it, but then I heard that you HAD to play through the game multiple times to fully appreciate it, that each play through was markedly different and, most importantly, that it got BETTER on the next playthroughs.
I girded my loins and went back in! This time I forced myself to battle through the whole game and get the main endings. It didn't get much better and the melancholy just grew. The combat at least helps to stave off the despair, but even then I just found myself using the same basic combos all game. I think it's a combination of the relentless malaise that the game causes and the limited variety of enemy types.
The overwhelming feeling that I had while playing this game wasn't fun, or excitement which are the feelings that I mainly expect to get from video games. It wasn't even sadness which you get in games occasionally. No, what Nier Automata made me feel was a kind of endless bleak melancholy.
I didn't enjoy playing this game exactly. I'm glad for the medium of games that it exists and that there are games being made that can capture this bleak tone and to explore sophisticated themes like it does, but I won't be playing it again in a hurry. Not without some ice cream and a funny cartoon to watch afterwards anyway.

Three Word Review: "Existential Despair Simulator"

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Re: Our next podcast recording (9.2.19) - 356: NieR:Automata

Post by Young Steev » February 7th, 2019, 10:04 am

If I could use a key word to describe my experience with Nier: Automata, it would be revelation, a sequence of things clicking into place, and culminating in one of the best gaming experiences in my long history of enjoying the medium. Unlike a lot of games I feel that this is definitely one that must be played through as blindly as possible in order to get the full effect.

Warning! Wall of Text and Spoilers aplenty ahead!

I didn't play he original NieR, and I didn't pick this game up on launch, instead listening to journalists talk about it (spoiler free) on podcasts and being intrigued by the art style and the names attributed to it. On the recommendation from a friend I picked up the PC version for £20 and, after installing an unofficial patch to fix the awful port job, began playing what I was told was an amazing JRPG. With this in mind starting out with a Galaga style top down shooter was jarring to say the least, and the first area that serves as a tutorial to the combat mechanics failed to grab me, feeling more like Bayonetta than what I expected from an RPG (apt considering Platinum Games' involvement). After blundering around in confusion the visual set piece of fighting Engels and leading into the ruined city started to sucker me in a little more. Suddenly, after getting the mission to head to the desert, I begin properly exploring, the music swells, and something clicked, I realised this was now settling into the JRPG I had been promised. From there the game went from strength to strength, and resulted in a short but very enjoyable story and although Adam and Eve were very forgettable villains in my opinion, in hindsight I feel that was probably meant to be the point.

After finding out the game was designed to be replayed I dove straight back in after finishing the first scenario, not knowing what to expect. As 9S stands up in the intro and you see the initial bombing run from his perspective another thing clicked into place, and immediately I began to wonder at where this was going, having known that there is a significant chunk of the first story where 9S was MiA I was immediately intrigued to play through what is ostensibly the same story to see his perspective on everything. With the addition of the hacking mini game yet another thing clicked, and I realised the shooter sections in 2Bs story were a form of training for this cleverly implemented mechanic.

Moving on to the third section of this game the plot rolls on with you the player now having more knowledge of the situation through seeing both sides of the coin. The death of 2B performed in game with you running to contain yourself somewhere as a virus destroys your systems bit by bit was heart-wrenching, but also made me realise that so much of the games HUD could actually be removed through the equipment system if so desired, a feature I'd commonly overlooked before this point, opting instead to let the game choose for me. This ability to pick and choose elements of the game to make it easier or harder is an often overlooked part of the game, and a take on difficulty I've only really seen in games like Dark Souls. The breakdown of 9S was a powerful twist as he gradually becomes the homicidal villain of the piece, and the climax with 2A and 9S fighting their way up the tower, each with a different agenda yet heading for the same destination, was very stylishly handled and acted as a great rush gauntlet to the final showdown. And what a showdown! The moment where you choose who to play as in the final fight left me genuinely stumped, as I weighed up whose side of the fight meant more to me.

But lets talk about the letter E, the true ending. With "Weight of the World" swelling and moving through the three different versions, the true final boss appears - the creators of this game - as you pilot a ship and shoot your way through the credits much like something from an old video game, a simple Easter egg at the end for a bit of silly fun. But suddenly, the game becomes more bullet hell than simple shoot em up, and I'm positive even the most seasoned danmaku fan couldn't do it. After several taunts from the continue screens you are given the opportunity to call for help, and a cluster of additional ships join you, combining your firepower to win through this difficulty spike. It isn't until you notice that with each death the words "data deleted" in the bottom corner that you get an inkling of what's truly going on. And then, after the credits finish, you are put to the same question as every other person who gets this far - Would you sacrifice everything you've done, the 40+ hours of content and game play you've experienced, for the chance to appear in the roster of ships for another player? Given the amount of ships I cycled through in my credits run, I imagine many players acquiesced to this choice, and I did so without a second thought, watching my progress being erased screen by screen with a smile, and choking back genuine tears at such a complete experience.

I've never been back to NieR: Automata since then; I feel that it isn't a game to be "beaten" but "experienced." To play through once, not try to complete 100%, and then take away your own view on it. I will say it's one of the most lovingly crafted video games I've ever played, with amazing graphics and art direction, a soundtrack that rivals Uematsu's finest work in terms of competency and variations on a theme, and a fantastic interweaving of mechanics with a story that works on multiple levels. If you've read this far without playing it, then I'm sorry to have spoiled one of the most important game narratives of modern times. I hope there isn't a sequel to this game, as I feel it would dilute the brilliance of this game, which works as a masterpiece of the medium in its own right.

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Re: Our next podcast recording (9.2.19) - 356: NieR:Automata

Post by HunterG » February 8th, 2019, 8:34 pm

I’ve never played any previous Yoko Taro games, but I heard of them and I watched some story summaries on Youtube. I was fascinated by their outlandishness and so I kept an eye out for Nier: Automata, even though I only got to play it recently.
This was my first Platinum Game, so I can’t compare it to their previous work, but I found the combat and the movement quite enjoyable. The same can be said about the jumps between different camera angles and gameplay styles. But where the game truly shines is the music and the story/themes of the game. First about the soundtrack: Many in this thread already praised it. I can only add that for me it may be the best game soundtrack I've ever heard, even better than the first Nier which was amazing as well.
The game progression is also an improvement to the first game. I expected, like in Nier 1, that with each new playthrough I would just see the same story from different perspectives. The trailer at the end of route B and the promise of new content were a huge surprise to me. And boy oh boy was I not prepared for Yoko Taros wild ride. Even though there are minor issues with Route C (it was comparatively short to A/B, especially since I already did almost all the sidequests and A2, while a fun character and more fleshed out in one of the stage plays, was ultimately only a short presence in the game), it was overall fantastic, and I already enjoed A/B qiute a lot. Route C did something which only video games can truly achieve. By the time 2B dies and 9S descends into madness, I’ve spent a large amount of time with and grown accustomed to them, so their doom affected me. Besides I don’t know of any other story where a character gets haunted by his memories of the former protagonist. It’s also kind of funny to compare Automata with the recent David Cage game, where I care much more for the sexy anime androids than the more realistic looking, but ultimateliy bland robots.
Many people already gushed over Ending E and I can only chime in. If only all the world leaders would play the game and experience the emotional impact of the true ending, maybe then would they realise the power of cooperation.
I haven’t really thought of the philosophical implications of the game yet, but it’s certainly a game where you can write essays about it. I like the fact that almost every named machine refers to a philosopher. For example Marx and Engels are explicitly the ones who are manufactured in a fabric. For the moment the biggest namedrop for me is Nietzsche, since one if his most famous quotes “God is dead” perfectly fits into Automata. Both the machines and the androids have to deal with the fact that their creators are dead and especially for the latter their primary objective (“save the earth for the humans”) is now obsolete.
My only real complaints with the game are the underdevelopment of the villains (primarily Adam and Eve, but the Red Girls also came and went out of nowhere) and that one trophy where you have to try to look up 2B’s dress. I’ll be honest, I like the designs of the characters and I am not really against sexualizing characters if there’s more to them than that (which in this case, there is). But this is just tasteless and disgusting. Fortunately, I could just buy this trophy for the platinum at the shop of the strange woman in the Resistance camp, which in itself is another bizarre, unique thing in this game.
That brings me to my last point. I think that for truly appreciating this game, one has to have a soft spot for absurd stuff. The premise of the story is quite ridiculous and one has to appreciate the comedy in the attempts of the machines to copy the humans (like this one sidequest where the child robot runs away from his "mother"), while at the same time be ready for excruciating moments like the end of Pascal’s village. If that’s the case, this game will be a truly rewarding and memorable gaming experience. It certainly was for me.
Three word review: Nier: Become Human.

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