Revisiting old games is not an easy task. Originality can withstand the ravages of time well, but only up to a point, and the latest in convenience features are very effective in combating nostalgia. Due to the immense success of Nier: Automata, Square Enix hired Toylogic (under the watchful eye of its original developers) to reissue the original Nier with an “update”: Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139. While there is no denying that we are essentially facing a game that is many years behind us, there is a very good chance that it will become one of the titles we have enjoyed the most this year. Mainly because the developers gave us enough good reasons not only to justify the experience of this indescribably sad game all over again (or for the first time), but also because Toylogic’s work embodied a completely unique adventure, even in parts of the original Work stalled.
At first glance, the main storyline seems pretty simple and a little redundant, as it is generally reminiscent of the classic hero’s journey (although at the same time it is not). At the center of this adventure is a self-sacrificing young man who is ready to do anything to rid his sister of a mysterious disease called “rune necrosis”. To heal them, he allies himself with a magical spellbook, the power of which grows when it is defeated by the dangerous “shadows”, monsters that live in this cruel world.
The predecessor of the surprising Nier: Automata follows the first Drakengard, a mixture of grim Hack’n’Slash action and battle on the back of a dragon. The series is known for its haunting storylines, and Nier takes the same approach: he’s trying to trick you just to drive a knife through your heart at the right time. On this journey you will meet characters who have seen unimaginable suffering. Even knowing this, it is difficult to bear the depth that this tragic story reaches.
As for the mechanics of the game, Nier is (thankfully) much more superficial. It’s a classic action adventure where we’ll visit different locations, enter linear dungeons, and annihilate shady monsters whenever the opportunity arises. There’s not a lot of variability in terms of enemies or environments, and that’s also reflected in the side missions and a fairly generic mission design. We were often faced with boring collection missions just to run through areas that were too big and empty looking for things. To disguise it, the creators of the original placed an emphasis on the elaborate changes in perspective of certain locations, which in a certain way even bring other genres closer together.
In version 1.22474487139, Toylogic introduced some more than welcome updates to the gameplay structure to better relive this clever story. Apart from the obvious improvements on the graphical level, which make the not quite beautiful original game a much more attractive title, the extensive adjustments to the combat system are particularly noticeable. The ability to center the camera is the most useful of these additions as it allows you to perform evasive maneuvers and counterattacks while the punches can hit a lot more. In addition, we can now fight much more acrobatically in the air and perform magic magic attacks fairly fluidly.
The music area has been reinterpreted, above all to ensure that the wonderful background music comes into its own even more often. Other than that, it’s important to highlight the role of English voice actress Laura Bailey (Abby in TLOU2) who does a fantastic job as the lead actress. The constant discussions between his character Kainé and the Grimoire Weiss (played by Liam O’Brien) are superbly interpreted and placed to bring the game to life in many parts. The other announcers also perform very well as each character can stand out in one or more appearances. English dubbing in general lags out of sync with Japanese voices, and when you see 1.22 it adds a greater number of voices in conversations and situations where they weren’t there before. That said, there are still sections that play more like a text adventure and are more aimed at those who are a bit of a bookworm.
Leaving the presentation aside, it’s pretty obvious that on a mechanical level, Nier stops relatively quickly. After you have acquired all three weapon types and maximized forms of white magic, the game is a small step and this facet will only change at the end of the journey. In the later parts of the story you will come across stronger variants of the same monsters, spend a lot of time looking for rare materials, and possibly add some secondary quests to the duration of the game. Functional (re) presentation aside, the tragic plot is still the strongest point of Nier Replicant Version 1.22474487139 and ultimately how much you enjoy this game will be decisive.
The First Nier isn’t a lengthy roleplaying game, but it’s also not the kind that will end your credits in about 20 hours. You will have to repeat much of the set to learn new aspects of the story and access additional content in the game. Nier’s first cycle is very different from the adventure that unfolds on your second or third attempt. Once you’ve seen Ending A, what is being summarized and the memories that emerge shed light on aspects and subjects that were hidden and only hinted at up to that point. This also means creating entirely new sections that weren’t even part of the original.
We’d especially like to highlight one side quest that popped up during our game in the second half of the game. What started as another assignment led us to a great fight that literally left a huge shadow. Apart from that, the second “round” opens the DLC “The World of Replicated Vessels”, which has been renewed with an eccentric audiovisual note (and a few other surprises). You can also expect some customization with add-ons and options that we won’t reveal.
You don’t have to play up to this point as you will have a more than self-sufficient history when you first hit the credits. If you drop it afterward, you will be missing out on additional information and subtleties that only add to this uniquely painful world. It is true that some surprises require some prior knowledge as they are linked to Yoko Taro’s other works. However, if you liked some of his games or fell in love with Nier: Automata, then you should definitely try to hit the new ending yourself. because it creates a really strong bond with all of the other games.
Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139 fits perfectly between a modern remaster and a full-size remake. Much has been done in the revision of the technical presentation, from which the updated combat system and its modern adaptations particularly benefit. Fans will enjoy the added details of the story and the new ending that fits perfectly into the dark universe that emerged from the spirit of Yoko Taro. However, the basic structure of the game was not addressed in this production and brings back many problems from the past, from days already forgotten. Like most things the eccentric Japanese author throws himself into, these shortcomings take little time to sink into the mystery in which Taro-san hides the painful truth of his great stories. Be careful if you don’t want to sink into her sweet despair.