The future is a bright and exciting place, and it’s full of surprises and should fill us with hope. Now imagine a distant future where life is hard, technology has gone backwards, and a deadly plague runs riot. This is the picture of our future painted in NieR Replicant Ver.1.22474487139… it is the prequel to the well-received NieR: Automata, and a remake of NieR Replicant that was originally released to a Japanese only audience.
NieR Gestalt as it was known in the West tells a similar story to the remake, with some changes made to the lead characters. In 2010, PlayStation and Xbox One were treated to the original Replicant version, and a mere eleven years later we are all blessed with the opportunity to try a modern rethinking of the Japanese exclusive title.
Developed by Toylogic and published by Square Enix, this glorious looking RPG title mixes Hack ‘n slash, puzzle, adventure and action elements to take you on a challenging journey across a dangerous and forlorn landscape. The world that you live in is set over a thousand years in the future, but the people all live frugal and basic lives. It’s a weird combination, but as the story progresses you learn about the fate of the people, and how they exist this way.
NieR Replicant chucks you straight into the action.
I find it frustrating when a game takes forever to get going! You’ve switched it on, played for a few hours, yet you are still none the wiser. NieR Replicant is certainly not guilty of this faux par. You open with the two main characters fighting for their survival. You control the self-named male who protects his sister Yonah from dark forces known as Shades. It introduces you to the emotive plot which I admit got to me immediately. From here you learn the fundamentals that form the mechanics for the rest of the game. Fight after fight ensues, and magic is flung left, right and centre. This is all thanks to the help from a talking book known as Grimoire Weiss. At the end of the prologue you are flung forward 1,412 years and here is where the story begins.
On the face of it, NieR Replicant appears complex, but in reality, it’s a simple tale. It revolves around family, honour, and love. Your sister Yonah has a disease known as the “Black Scrawl”. This deadly infliction slowly attacks its victim, making them weaker as it takes over their body. There is sadly, no known cure. This is until the hero and his travelling companion Grimoire Weiss hear a bard singing a long-forgotten tune. The song tells of a cure for the deadly disease, all you must do is collect the hidden “Sealed Verses”. These evil and magical entities are protected by dark powers and are guarded by gigantic Shades. Each of these bosses is controlled by Grimoire Weiss’s nemesis, Grimoire Noir.
The Black Scrawl
You will venture across many locations; Seaside towns, scrapyards, a suspended city, a desert town with its own rules, and more. Friends are made on the way, and two adventurers will join you. They help any way they can to solve the mystery behind the “Black Scrawl”. Each of the heroes has its agenda, and they appear unhinged and reluctant to aid you. Yet they each add something to the team to ensure that you are victorious in your endeavours.
Fast battles and plenty of fetch quests.
What this can’t be accused of is lacking in things to do. Every town you visit offers new quests to take on, people to assist, and events to complete. You can relax by fishing in any body of water, speak to the townsfolk and undertake quests. These comprise: collecting resources to sell for a profit, or you can simply stick to the main storyline. Many of the side quests are intrinsically linked with the main story. So you cannot avoid going off on a tangent, and when this happens you must go with the flow and enjoy the crazy ride.
For all its tasks and many quests you undertake, there is sadly a distinct feeling of deja vu. Many of the jobs involve; collecting X amount of items and returning them to the vendor, or killing a certain monster. They became tiresome but were a well-paid venture. This helped to fund new weapons and allowed you to buy equipment that you otherwise couldn’t afford. What was annoying was the fragile delivery quests! These involved dashing from place to place trying not to get hit. In just a moment, you’ll understand why this was so frustrating.
No matter where you travelled, monsters, animals, and obstacles blocked your path. The simple task of travelling from one town to another was fraught with danger and became an arduous task. The aforementioned delivery quests were challenging, as you could rarely avoid conflict. Fortunately, though, each battle you faced was over as quickly as it began. Flailing your weapon around like a mad man, combined with shooting magical bullets, made any fight an enjoyable and simple affair.
Dungeons and puzzles.
I was brought up playing RPG’s. So I expected it to be full of difficult dungeons comprising many overpowered beasts and challenging puzzles. Fortunately, NieR Replicant doesn’t let you down, mostly. Unlike the open-world adventure that you have on the various plains, deserts and other settings, the dungeons follow a more linear and restrictive approach. Paths are blocked by magic or broken doors, and you are only free to go where the developers wish you to explore. It was a tad annoying, but it kept you on track and prevented you from wasting your time. Still, I was desperate to know what was hidden behind locked doors, especially when the map showed hidden chambers.
I enjoyed the variety of puzzles on offer. They teased you with some simple tests, and these gradually increased in difficulty as the game wore on. There were moments I squealed in agony as I failed for the nth time. Yet, these small setbacks will not put you off. You will grit your teeth, put on your big boy pants, and try again. Equally, the bosses that you face have a gradual increase in difficulty. I found none to be overly challenging, but they add enough meat on the bone to make them a worthy opponent.
NieR Replicant has a rich world and touching story.
What I loved about NieR Replicant was its stunning world full of; different landscapes, beautiful scenery, and an array of interesting people. The fetch quests were tedious, but they allowed you to visit places that you may have otherwise overlooked. Exploring each town thoroughly was one of the main pleasures of playing this game. Labyrinthine setups have you walking around in circles, and until you either; purchase a map, find one, or are gifted one, you must keep exploring. You could easily rush through the game, and no one forces you to amble around each location you visit, but in doing so you can see what makes up this intriguing world, and the unique people that inhabit it.
I’ve already admitted to loving this story from the prologue, and it was hard not to fall for its emotionally charged charms. Each of the main characters and there are an awful lot, add to this web of mystery. The plot is well written, and each person you interact with adds depth. Sadly, it doesn’t compare to its sequel NieR: Automata, but it matters not. You will lose yourself in the moment, and this is helped with the incredible graphical and audio presentation.
A beautifully designed game.
I was instantly in awe of the wonderful world that has been created for NieR Replicant. The modernisation of an eleven-year-old game is always going to challenge, but Toylogic has done an amazing job. Every element of the visuals is stunning! From the animation, character design, text style, and landscapes, nothing was missed. Sprawling and sparse plains make the NieR universe appear massive. Standing upon a towering bridge overlooking the scenery below is a jaw-dropping experience. The mixture of environments ensured that the constant back and forth never bored you. It doesn’t quite reach the heights that its sequel achieves, but it’s spectacular, nonetheless.
For me, the crowning glory of this has to be the amazing and dramatic soundtrack. There is a lot to like about this powerful score of emotive laced songs. Every scene and adventure is accompanied by a mixture of touching and upbeat tunes. It’s hard to put into words how great the music is. But it’s one of the best soundtracks that I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. The sound effects are also to a high standard! The swishing of your weapon through the air, the blast of each magical spell, and the OTT screaming is brilliant.
The prologue is the tutorial.
It was a clever decision to have the prologue as a tutorial. The short opening gambit allows you to familiarise yourself with the fundamentals with little impact on the rest of the story. The simple control system takes little time to master, and I was destroying enemies, and flinging magic like a pro in no time. Three difficulty settings help you get into the swing of things. I began in the easy setting but found this to be too simple. I’d advise you to forget the lowest tier unless you are new to the genre. The controls are responsive, and well laid out and make playing the game a walk in the park.
If you played the original, you’ll be aware that it was full of replay value mainly because of its five endings. NieR Replicant Ver.1.22474487139… adds to this with an extra finale for hardcore fans to enjoy. Hours will pass, and you will still be nowhere near the finish line! It’s a brilliant title that you’ll happily lose your life to, even if it’s just to listen to the glorious music. A large achievement list will take a considerable amount of time to unlock, so completionists will have a challenging time defeating this game.
NieR Replicant is worth every penny.
I’ve mentioned several times that it doesn’t match up to its sequel. Sadly, this is true, but NieR Replicant is worth investing both your time and money in. With stunning graphics, excellent audio, simple controls, fantastic characters, and an amazing story, you need this in your life! I recommend it, so buy your copy here! Can you explore the vast world, collect the “Sealed Verses” and save your sister from the “Black Scrawl”?