New Content that returning and new players can enjoy
Combat is more fluid and exciting
Lovable and complex characters
Memorable story supported by a great soundtrack
Dated and simple level designs
Dull and repetitive side quests
Limited use of magical abilities
Eleven years after its Japan-exclusive release, Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139 (its name is undoubtedly as complex as its origins) returns to modern consoles in remastered form. Nier fans will find that beyond the difference in the protagonist, the story and setting remains much the same.
Set thousands of years before the events of Nier: Automata, in the post-apocalyptic future of a fallen modern world, Nier Replicant follows a young male protagonist in a desperate search for a cure to save his ailing sister, Yonah.
Going above and beyond for a remaster, Nier Replicant is more than just a visual upgrade. Featuring content cut from the original release, extra story and dungeon sections and a new boss fight, the remaster promises new tricks up its sleeve that both returning fans and newcomers can enjoy.
Was it worth the wait? Hell yes!
The remastered Nier Replicant draws heavily from what worked in the critically acclaimed sequel, Nier: Automata, to improve upon its biggest shortcomings – namely shoddy graphics and clunky combat.
For starters, textures and character models have been extensively reworked, resulting in vibrant, gorgeous graphics that’s more in line with Nier: Automata. Similarly, the rough edges of combat in 2010’s Nier have been smoothened.
With the help of PlatinumGames’ Takahisa Taura – who developed the combat system in Nier: Automata, much effort has gone into elevating combat in Nier Replicant to ensure the same level of fluidity and excitement.
Just like in Nier: Automata, you’ll be able to form combos by mixing light and heavy attacks. There’s the new addition of active dodging and parrying of attacks, which when timed right, will allow you to stagger your enemies. There’s even a move that lets you automatically sidestep behind enemies, making it extremely effective against those with shields.
You will unlock new physical attack moves over time but the notification can be easily missed if you’re busy in battle, so check the tutorial section often for new moves. On the other hand, there’s a new auto-battle mode for those who prefer more casual gameplay.
True to Nier Replicant’s action-RPG genre, you can go to town on different enemies, unleashing wild flurries of combo attacks, expert dodging and finishing blows to satisfying effect. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Early in the game, a magical talking book – Grimoire Weiss – will join your team and provide access to magical abilities.
Your magical abilities will grow as you collect more Sealed Verses, and these can range from offensive abilities involving throwing giant magical spears and siccing a dark phantom version of yourself on enemies to defensive abilities like erecting a magical wall and absorbing incoming magical attacks.
Holding down the shoulder buttons allows you to charge a stronger magical attack, but that quickly drains your magic meter. Having to watch the magic meter and alternate between powerful magical attacks and melee combos brings an added layer of depth to combat that keeps it from becoming mindless button mashing.
You can equip up to four magical abilities on the shoulder buttons, but that also means forgoing defend and parry moves, which I wouldn’t recommend, as some enemies are impervious to magic and require a timed parry to become susceptible to attacks.
You have no choice but to experiment with different magical attacks and equip a few that best fit your combat style.
Full of Surprises
Staying true to the original, much of the world’s environment has been preserved aside from improved textures. It’s easier on the eyes, but there’s still little variety and detail to the dated layout of its towns and dungeons.
It’s all about getting from point A to point B, where all the roads and rooms look pretty much identical.
Luckily, the linear exploration is peppered with environmental and story puzzles and genre shifts – which keep things from becoming too dull. One memorable instance is the sudden introduction of bullet hell during a mine cart ride at Junk Heap early in the game.
I went from one identical room to the next, getting mildly annoyed by the poorly labelled map, to finding myself desperately avoiding blasts from every direction on the mine cart.
Fans who’ve played Nier: Automata will appreciate this creative and seamless use of genre shifts and perspective change that the original first introduced. You simply never know what and when to expect a challenge. And these changes don’t always occur within a dungeon – sometimes it can occur at a town – and you’d have genre shifts thrown at you, ranging from bullet hell, side-scrolling, platformer, top-down combat and more.
You also have plenty of side quests that you can pick up when interacting with town folks. They are mostly repetitive fetch quests but if you take the time to do them, they’ll reveal interesting stories that vary from bizarre to tragic.
Doing side quests is also the only way to amass gold to buy better weapons. Or, you could just stick to main quest rewards and collect resources along the way to upgrade your weapons.
Intriguing World and Lovable Characters
Your companions are some of the best things about Nier Replicant. The sassy Grimoire Weiss, potty-mouthed Kaine and kindhearted Emil have such distinct and memorable personalities that often result in humorous interactions.
Grimoire Weiss, in particular, provides entertaining banter, even breaking the fourth wall on occasion. He openly complains about complex dungeon layouts and glibly calls out on Kaine’s scandalous getup.
Short of spoiling your companions’ backstories and the main plot, all I can say is that you’d best prepare for a giant emotional punch to the gut. Returning fans will probably know all too well that the narrative in Nier-verse tends towards deeply depressing and nihilistic themes.
This is meticulously reflected all around – set against the backdrop of a bygone civilisation, the world of Nier Replicant is steeped in barely concealed despair. The threat of sickness and monsters overhang the world’s inhabitants and a great sense of dread pervades.
Its bleak atmosphere is further heightened by a beautiful soundtrack, with the original composer, Keiichi Okabe, returning to re-record and rearrange the music.
But beyond the melancholy is a thoughtfully crafted narrative and a compelling cast whose journeys you’d want to see to the end.
A Nier Perfect Remaster
Unique is what I’d use to describe Nier Replicant to a newcomer. An action RPG that challenges players with its liberal mix of genre styles and great story-telling – few games can boast of such diversity.
Automata fans will find Nier Replicant thematically similar, with an equally if not more gripping story, even if it isn’t as polished in terms of gameplay. With plenty of improvements and new content, the Nier Replicant remaster breathes life into the decade-old game, giving it another well-deserved chance at earning a place in the hearts of players.