Let’s start by saying Nier: Automata is a spin-off to the Drakengard series and a sequel to 2010’s Nier… but it in no way means you have to play any of them for the game to make sense. So dive in without worrying.
Platinum Games are known for their fast and stylish action, but Nier: Automata takes all this to a whole new level. Taking place in a dystopian future, players are put in the shoes of android, YoRHa No. 2 Model B (2B for short), as she teams up with 9S on a mission to take down the machine lifeforms that have taken over the earth, and forced humanity to flee to the moon.
Going into the game I wasn’t expecting it to leave such a lasting impression, but Automata really does tell a beautiful, deep and memorable story. There are twenty-six endings in total, but only five of them are important and lead you to the true ending. But don’t worry, this isn’t a case of play the game five times to unlock a true ending – not at all. Each route expands the story and the world, offering you some fresh ways to play the game – it’s honestly a wonderful experience.
Automata has some absolutely incredible characters, who you’ll come to love over the 30+ hour campaign. I don’t want to go into the story too much as this is a game that needs to be experienced.
The game’s director, Yoko Taro, has proven time and time again that he is talented, but Nier: Automata is his greatest work yet. This is undeniably down to the perfect marriage between himself, Platinum Games and the game’s composer, Keiichi Okabe. Each part of this holy trinity helps elevate the game as a whole, creating an experience, unlike anything I’ve ever played before.
The gameplay is smooth and a whole lot of fun. You’ll be hacking and slashing your way through enemies with a variety of weapons and racking up combos using light and heavy attacks. There’s a lot to upgrade and even the little pod that follows you around can get some upgrades too. It’s fast-paced, enjoyable and when you master it, wow, what a rush it gives you. Heck, it isn’t only a free-roaming hack and slash type of game, there’s also 2D platforming, horizontal shooting, and more. I cannot stress enough how much variety Automata has to offer.
As I’ve already mentioned, this is not your standard game and the machine lifeforms you’ll find yourself battling are not your standard enemies. Automata will make you feel uncomfortable with the way they attempt to imitate humans and you may even find yourself not wanting to face them in battle.
Overall Automata runs beautifully, but within the open-world segments of the game you will find frequent dips in frame rate, it never causes any real issues – but it can be rather jarring and irritating when you’re facing a powerful opponent.
The soundtrack is phenomenal, adding more depth to the game than you’d think possible. The tracks often use the machine’s made-up language, which works very well – I find myself going back to listen to it regularly. That’s not all for the audio side of things, the English voice acting is spot on. Each and every cast member brings something to the table and between the brilliant vocals and the music – this really is a title you need to turn the volume up for.