To say that Nier is dark filled with loss of hope undertones is like saying fire is hot. However, when my friend Gary was showing me the game, I had to admit that the game play looked interesting and I was intrigued. When I found out that it was a thinly veiled sequel to one of the endings in Drakengard, I definitely wanted to play it and test it out. Gary being the awesome friend that he is, loaned me his copy of Nier so I could try it out. It does take me some time to go through a game sometimes due to my hectic schedule, so I apologize to my friends who have been asking if I'm ever going to put into words my thoughts on this particular RPG.
Nier starts off strongly with a great opening scene and brilliant musical score, featuring a shell of a city and harsh winter weather in the middle of summer. After the initial introductory scene you learn that the glories of humanity have disappeared and the few humans that remain struggle to survive in a medieval existence with the threat of shades and a disease known as Black Scrawl and Nier's daughter has it. Nier (the hero), has sworn that he will do anything at all costs to search for a cure.
The graphics are beautifully done right down to the cinematic cut scenes. There is a clear objective to the game and there are plenty of side quests even farming to flesh everything out. The battle system is user friendly and the items and spells menu are quite easy to navigate.You play as Nier and you find yourself caring about this character as the story progresses. There are other interesting characters along the way on this adventure such as Grimoire Weiss, an ancient talking book. That's just for starters. You meet the rest of the companions at different intervals and because of how well written their back stories are, you find yourself caring about them as well.
Now, I know what you're thinking. What's the deal with that first sentence in this little review? Well, let's get down to it shall we? Overall, the game is good with user friendly controls and a solid battle system. The soundtrack is beautiful and they chose wisely with this musical score. However, there are flaws here and there with Nier. So I'll list the pros and cons.
The graphics, scenery, and cut scenes are amazing. They stand out and you remember every one.
The musical score is fantastic and well thought out throughout the game.
The character development and writing for the support characters is genius. When you can have your audience genuinely care about the characters in the story, that's pretty great writing.
Their battle system isn't too difficult and the menus are easy to navigate.
While you could hurry to the end of the game, there are many side quests and even a fishing mini-game as well as the option to do some of your own farming to give you a break from slashing all the baddies.
Impressive boss battles capture your interest especially when they throw spell casting cut scenes into the mix.
The story is original and keeps you guessing. You never know what to expect and just when you think you know something, they surprise you with a different event altogether.
There are times in Nier, where the pacing could be a lot better. At some points in the story, it drags a little bit and you find yourself wishing they would get on with it so you can move along to the next area already.
It can be a real downer. There are times where everyone is happy and celebrating a victory, only to have something absolutely horrible happen. Half the time it seems like more tragedies happen than good times. Hey, I'm not asking that we all hug a Care Bear and have a lovely tea party, but they really cashed in on that whole emo kid phase.
All the doubling back. You will find yourself revisiting a dungeon or town six times or more for certain quests or plot lines in the story. After a bit of that, it gets a little old and you find yourself sighing with frustration. A lot.
The fetch quests. This ties into the doubling back. There are quite a few fetch quests, where you have to get a certain number of items for various npcs and return to get a reward. They tend to blur together after a while because they are so similar. You'll find yourself just giving up on that whole thing because it's tedious and boring.
BAD CAMERA ANGLES. With all the technology we have in this day and age, it still kills me when a game has not one, but several bad camera angles that happen consistently throughout the game play. There were angles where you couldn't turn the camera enough to get a jump properly, or it would spin wildly turning a corner and you'd find yourself wanting to upchuck your dinner when the wave of vertigo hit you.
A final boss battle with eight boss fights with multiple endings. This one comes last because it is the one that pissed me off the most. Not only do you have eight boss battles to fight, but there is no save point in between them. So if you lose, you get to go through all of that all over again. Top that off with four different endings that you can not get until you play through the whole game again and you'll find yourself wishing you could find the developer who thought this was a good idea and punch him square in the throat. SPOILER ALERT: You have to do the endings in a certain order, because one of the endings actually erases all your saved game data. No you did not misread that. That's actually true.
Now with all of that said, while I don't hate Nier, I don't really love it either. There is good and bad with it, but because of the pros I listed, the game manages to be enjoyable to play. It's definitely not like anything I've ever played before and the supporting cast works well with the main character story wise. It did its job of keeping me entertained and managed to tell an interesting story while doing so. So while it's not a spectacular take my breath away kind of game, it's still a decent game that you could enjoy playing through at least once.