NieR Replicant is… robust to clarify. The unique NieR was a 2010 PS3 sport, the sequel to at least one attainable ending of the 2003 PS2 sport Drakengard. Replicant is a not-quite remaster, not-quite remake of that 2010 sport, which exists largely because of the success of 2017’s NieR: Automata – which was set within the aftermath of certainly one of NieR’s endings – providing followers of the newer sport an opportunity to discover its missed roots. Confused but?
Whereas each this contemporary take and the unique dropped gamers into a wierd post-apocalyptic world, the PS3 model of NieR additionally had a distinct model launched within the west, with an grownup protagonist defending his ailing daughter. Replicant marks the primary western look of the unique Japanese model, with an anime-typical teen as a substitute defending his youthful sister, who has been troubled by a mysterious illness.
That is caught between remaster and remake – it will probably’t escape the issues of the unique’s construction.
The issue is, Automata was already designed as an enchancment on the uncooked supplies of NieR, and even with developer Toylogic overhauling the visuals and, extra noticeably, the fight, Replicant nonetheless appears like a step backwards. It is a sport mired in not simply its personal historical past, serving primarily to supply interactive lore to Automata followers, however in real-world gaming historical past, a relic of a interval the place “brown and muddy” was the aesthetic du jour and gameplay was nonetheless too usually linear.
Toylogic has completed a unbelievable job in recreating the ruined world Nier and his sister Yonah inhabit, taking it from an expanse of nebulous brown to a extra wondrous, detailed world constructed on the ruins of our personal. It is nonetheless largely empty, basically an unlimited subject connecting scattered human villages, however now it has a contact of Shadow of the Colossus’ lonely magnificence to it.
Nonetheless, with the sport not being a ground-up rebuild – the “ver.1.22474487139…” of Replicant’s full, unweildy title hints at this, being the sq. root of 1.5, a delicate acknowledgement that that is caught between remaster and remake – it will probably’t escape the issues of the unique’s construction. A lot of the sport is spent working between outposts doing chasing mounted targets, whereas dungeons are basically linear challenges. All of it feels very dated.
One side that basically shines although is the improved fight, now smoother, quicker, and extra akin to Automata’s. Initially sword centered, Nier beneficial properties magical talents from partnering with a speaking e book known as Grimoire Weiss, permitting you to chain up-close melee assaults with quite a lot of ranged mystic arts. You will not be racking up fairly the mega-combos of Automata, however flicking between sword slashes and magic is satisfying, even when the rafts of overly comparable enemies aren’t.
The system can also be properly customisable to most well-liked play type, with spells comparable to Darkish Blast firing off a relentless stream of magic missles, permitting you to deal with distant crowd management in opposition to hordes of enemies, or Darkish Hand additional emphasising bodily encounters with its big spectral arms to slam down opponents within the space. Expertise will be additional customised with magic phrases, dropped by downed foes, and which add modifiers to the spells, weapons, or martial arts they’re outfitted to.
Though there’s an experimental streak to Replicant, treating gamers to sections that dabble with gaming genres as various as platforming or bullet hell shooters, it finally lacks the frenetic nature and wild inventiveness of Automata. It’s, once more, the age of the supply materials displaying itself. With the unique NieR being comparatively area of interest, it was by no means going to get the lavish remedy that Final Fantasy VII Remake loved, however regardless of the fight and visible upgrades, this nonetheless feels constrained by the bounds of the PS3 over a decade in the past. In the end, this might be a delight for any long-term followers of the franchise, however anybody who was drawn into this unusual gaming universe through Automata will really feel like they’ve taken an enormous step backwards.