NieR: Automata was released back in 2017 but unfortunately I was too busy with other titles to play it. Such is the life of a reviewer. I had heard great things about this game and it had been on my long list of games to eventually play. When I heard Square ENIX was releasing NieR: Automata Game Of The YoRHa Edition I was excited to finally see what all the hype was about.
NieR: Automata Game Of The YoRHa Edition contains the original game, the lone expansion DLC, some in game skins for your Pod, plus a few avatars and theme for your PS4. Really this version is only for those who missed the original launch but at a lower price. NieR: Automata is set in a post war future where robots sent to earth by aliens forced humanity to retreat to a base on the moon. Here the humans created androids of their own, called YoRHa, to fight for them on an earth infested with enemy bots. Players start out as B2, an overly sexified female android running around in thigh-high tights with the option to continue playing with other androids after “completing” the game. That said, players don’t actually replay the exact game but are given new routes and slight changes to gameplay with the different characters. This was one of the cooler features of NieR: Automata and one of many that definitely make it stand out in the crowd.
When it comes to gameplay NieR: Automata is best described as an action game with RPG elements. Really though, NieR: Automata is an amalgam of different game styles, everything from top down shooter, twin stick shooter, side scrolling platformer, and even a bit of fighting game are all here. Normally I hate when games do not stick with a set format but NieR: Automata makes it work and it’s enjoyable. The meat and potatoes of the gameplay though is a mix of utilizing your Pod (a floating box that follows you around) for ranged attacks and personal melee attacks in a third person format. It takes some getting used to at first; the transition between shooter and close up action, but this versatility in gameplay leaves it open to the player to choose the best attacks.
As you level up players can customize their Pods and easily spend hours just tweaking and testing out combinations. There is also the option of “auto mode” if you don’t even want to bother with all of this. While it does take away from the experience, I applaud developer Platinum Games for including it. Those who love to spend time customizing will enjoy this aspect of NieR: Automata.
Graphically NieR: Automata has some moments where I thought it looked fantastic, and other times the textures and levels looked repetitive and sort of dingy. When up against some of the major releases of the last couple years it definitely doesn’t hold up. The music in NieR: Automata really impressed me. Some beautifully done orchestrated tracks accompany the game and fit perfectly to the mood and situations.
I started out really enjoying NieR: Automata. The originality of the gameplay, while complex, was refreshing. I did have issues with a few things though after a time. My biggest complaint has to be the map. It’s confusing and clunky to utilize properly. It basically looks like an Atari 2600 game sitting in the corner of your screen and did nothing to help me avoid getting lost. I got lost way too often and I attribute this to the map and the quest indicator system. I should not have to look to the internet to figure out where I need to go in a game in 2019. This is standard stuff and I was shocked to see how poorly it was handled.
My next complaint is a personal one. We all know sex sells. Many terrible games and movies have been marketed over the years by taking advantage of this. In the case of NieR: Automata, the character B2, with her thigh-high stockings, heals, cleavage, and the ability see right up her short skirt, make for such an overly sexified character that one has to wonder if this game would of been so successful without this protagonist? The game is so unapologetic about this that it even included a trophy for looking up B2’s skirt 10 times. Really?! Just do an internet search for this character and you will be bombarded with sexy cosplayers, raunchy mouse pads, and tons of fan art bordering on porn.
Having grown up the era of ridiculously proportioned female comic book characters, that medium seems to have finally grown out of this trend for the most part. Great female characters have come along in comics over the last 10 year without needing to show off cleavage. We have seen the western video game market head this same direction a bit more with Lara Croft actually putting on more clothes in her recent Tomb Raider games and another great example is Aloy from Horizon: Zero Dawn. These are great games that did not demean their characters and cater to the misconception of all gamer nerds being basement dwelling horndogs. These are supposed to be combat androids, not sex slaves!
NieR: Automata Game Of The YoRHa Edition was tough game for me to review. There are so many things I love about it, and so many things I abhor. The gameplay is original and exciting but can get a bit repetitive after 25+ hours. The story and the fact you can replay different paths is interesting and fans of customization will enjoy the Pod system. The graphics are hit and miss but the music is fantastic. Thirteen year old boys and pervs will enjoy looking up B2’s skirt while the more mature gamer will cringe. But like a bad relationship, I couldn’t stop NieR: Automata Game Of The YoRHa Edition, even though it made extremely angry at times.
NieR: Automata Game Of The YoRHa Edition is available now for PlayStation 4 and PC. This review is based on a PS4 copy provided by the publisher. Purchases are available here.