NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139... Review

Richard Walker

After the success of 2017's NieR Automata, it was only a matter of time before NieR Replicant received an overhaul, bringing the two games in line with one another. Indeed, both games share very similar DNA – mainly, the dreamy visuals, acrobatic combat, shifting camera angles, and a knotty narrative that spans multiple endings. But this updated iteration of the 2010 game –  released in the west as simply 'NieR', with a different protagonist – sadly pales in comparison next to the ambitious Automata. It seems almost unfair to compare the two, given the seven-year gulf between them, but to the layman NieR Replicant ver.122474487139... will be an entirely new chapter, albeit one that takes place prior to the events of Automata. Regardless, Replicant isn't without its own problems, which unfortunately haven't been remedied for this remaster/remake.


Don't touch my cookies ever again.

Set within a world where the last vestiges of technology have been swept away, and the human race has been reduced to small pockets of huddled survivors, NieR Replicant takes you to sunny Mediterranean-style seafronts; rusted, sunbaked junkyards; derelict subterranean factories; primitive sandy fortresses; and ancient ruins, in a quest to confront the Shadowlord and save your sister. A visually pleasing, pretty game, there's an easy, breezy joy to be had in hoofing it across sun-dappled stretches of grassy land to get from place to place. However, after the umpteenth time of doing so, it can grow a mite tiresome – despite the splendid, soaring orchestral score providing a lovely travelling soundtrack. As, indeed, can fending off 'Shades': enemies that attack in hordes and evolve over the course of the narrative. The combat itself is fluid and enjoyable, but invariably you'll come to rely on a handful of effective moves that get the job done quickly.

While developer PlatinumGames has been drafted in to shore up lead dev team Toylogic's revamped combat system, it doesn’t quite attain the same gratifying depth as Platinum’s own work on Automata. Wielding swords and spears can feel a mite floaty and imprecise, although a well-timed parry, deflection, and counterattack delivers solid feedback, yet many enemy encounters often descend into frantic button-mashing, lacking any real sense of challenge. Restorative items are plentiful, so you’re seldom caught without a full health gauge, and overcoming a colossal boss is bereft of a sense of achievement - it’s rare that you’ll ever experience a feeling of jeopardy against uncertain odds. You know that little burst of adrenaline you get when taking down a boss by the skin of your teeth? That’s missing here.


It doesn’t help that NieR Replicant is hampered by a rather bland procession of baggy fetch quests. These will see you spending the opening hours traipsing from your village to sort something out, perhaps bringing back some sort of MacGuffin, then checking in with Popola and the protagonist’s sick sister, Yonah, who's slowly succumbing to a deadly affliction known as the 'Black Scrawl'. Popola is effectively head of the village, and much of your time will involve visiting a location outside of the village's walls, traversing a fairly large, mostly empty expanse to get there, then returning to Popola. There's a lot of reporting back to Popola. Popola. Popola. Popola. Always. Bloody. Popola.

Partnering up with haughty (and incredibly verbose) arcane tome Grimoire Weiss, your mission is to ultimately track down a cure for Yonah's disease, which hinges upon locating a series of 'Sealed Verses'. These also happen to be new abilities for your floaty book pal, like a line of spears that erupt from the ground to impale enemies, a huge fist that can pound Shades, or a line of lance projectiles that can be hurled at foes. It's Weiss' long-range spells that have the most value, however, as many bosses can be dispatched by simply locking on to their weak spot and then firing an endless volley of glowing red shards into it, while simply dodging any incoming attacks. This renders many of the boss encounters a mere formality rather than a challenge.


Don's worry - it's not nearly as it hard as it looks.

Before long, you'll have sweary sword-wielding badass Kainé (energetically voiced by Laura Bailey) joining you in the scantiest of lingerie, and series icon Emil providing support, distracting legions of Shades with their own attacks, as you work on crowd control. New 'Words' acquired during combat can be applied to weapons, magic, and martial arts (your evade and guard), granting buffs and bonus attributes or effects, like poisoning, confusion, paralysis, increased EXP, or more frequent item drops. Different weapons, magic abilities, and Words add a neat little RPG wrinkle to NieR Replicant, and at higher difficulties you'll especially need to manage these elements to give yourself an edge.

Despite being overly reliant on fetch quests, featuring a second half that has you revisiting the same locations you've already been to, a section that takes you off on annoyingly lengthy text-based rambles, and at one point demanding that you follow an irritatingly slow NPC through a sandstorm, NieR Replicant is for the most part a pleasurable experience. The story is just about compelling enough, and while the combat isn't particularly challenging, it does prove enjoyable. New content, like the Seafront's 'Mermaid' segment, set aboard a beached ship, and a fifth ending offer replay value; and, much like in NieR Automata, getting to the final credits doesn't necessarily mean you've finished the game. There's more to NieR Replicant ver.122474487139... than meets the eye, then, and in all probability, you'll enjoy the ride while it lasts.

NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139...

A welcome revamp to a more than decade-old cult classic, NieR Replicant ver.122474487139... will be equally inviting to Automata fans, NieR veterans, and newcomers alike. Only a lack of variety, a lightweight combat challenge, and disappointing boss encounters put a downer on proceedings.

Form widget
70%
Audio
80%

Both the re-recorded score and voice acting are uniformly excellent, the music in particular, by Keiichi Okabe, is glorious. Uppity Weiss and foul-mouthed Kaine are especially entertaining.

Visuals
80%

There's little that's been altered from the original, other than the obvious changes (the protagonist being Yonah's older brother rather than her father), but the bolstered resolution and other visual flourishes make for a very pretty game.

Playability
75%

Combat is accomplished enough, but fails to provide a meaty enough challenge, and a few too many boss battles can be beaten by locking on and spamming Weiss's Dark Blast ability. Repetitive journeying from pillar to post also quickly grows wearisome.

Delivery
65%

Far too many fetch quests, for my liking. Even many of the side quests involve going out to find some sort of doohickey or occasionally track down a person. A lack of variety is the game's main problem, but there's a ton of replay value and bonus content. And fishing.

Trophies
70%

A lot of objectives revolve around defeating bosses within a stringent time limit, while others task you with digging in to side quests and multiple playthroughs to unlock every ending from A to E. A decent enough, if slightly tricky, list.

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