Playing: Nier (PS3) (XBOX 360)

Nier_Cover

With the upcoming international release of Drakengard 3, I wanted to review the equally emotionally-confusing spin-off game of the Drakengard series, Nier. While Cavia (rest in peace) has been known for their strange and often complex games, Nier stands to be yet another quirky entry to their list. Sporting two different versions, wherein the titular protagonist is a teenage brother and a middle aged father in Replicant and Gestalt respectively, the game provides players with an intricate, if not captivating story.

Set on Earth in a distant future, Nier’s almost unrecognisable world is the product of the fifth hidden ending of Drankengard. Nier, whose sister/daughter Yonah is stricken with the “Black Scrawl”, dreams of finding a cure for her illness. Upon teaming up with the magical tome Grimoire Weiss, the foulmouthed Kainè and the ever mellow Emil during his search, Yonah is inexplicably kidnapped by the Shadowlord – the master of the enemies known only as Shades. With an army of these enemies in his path, Nier and his team must travel ruined landscapes and the remnants of lost civilisations to find the missing Yonah.

Nier is definitely one of the most interesting games I’ve ever played. Completely finishing the game is no easy task, and players will often find that the game is considerably more frustrating than it needs to be. This is most evident in the arduous task of finding materials for weapon upgrades, which sounds easy. But if you’ve ever played a Cavia game, you’d understand that the most simple task can take hours. Another interesting point is that completely finishing the game… also completely erases it. Upon taking the fourth ending route, the player’s save file is completely erased, along with other copies on the HDD (You have been warned). The game itself has also has a heap of extra missions to complete, so expect Nier to take quite awhile.

It’s primarily an action, hack and slash game that possesses role playing elements. It also, interestingly, has a variety of other game types interjected in sections of the story, such as platform, shooter and even text adventure. There are three weapon types (spears, one-handed swords and two-handed swords) that can be used and magic is also available, creating a solid, but average, combat experience. Both can have “words” attached to them, which augment and strengthen the power or abilities of equips. Defeating enemies results in gathering loot, words and experience, all of which are extremely useful towards the second half of the game. Nier also gains companions on his journey (typical of the JRPG genre) and attack on their own with competent attacks. Finally, finishing the game one opens of the New Game+ option, which allows players to experience the story again, but with twists and bigger revelations to the events of the story.

While Nier’s story is entertaining and sometimes actually touching, the graphics of the game weigh it down. While I praised the graphics of Bayonetta, I must say – Nier’s visuals are remarkably disappointing. It seems as though they would be rather suited to the graphic capabilities of the PS2. It does, though, have a few pleasant instances; such as the Resident Evil style graphics in Emil’s manor and the distant towers on the horizon of the port town in the game. Although the visuals of the game are about as mediocre as they can be, I cannot express just how much the soundtrack adds to the overall value of the game. I wrote about it before here, but briefly, it is beyond belief just how amazing the game’s music compels the audience to actually feel and pay attention. If Nier was ever to be completely forgotten, I guarantee  its OST would remain.

Even though Nier doesn’t shape up to be one of the better entries to the JRPG genre (or any genre for that matter), it’s overall cohesiveness,  story and soundtrack make it a worthwhile experience to enjoy. It is no way Nier (heh) the quality of other games released around the same time, but its effort in creating an emotional and captivating story redeems it (at least for me) from the more… displeasing aspects of the game. If you’d rather play a game more fixed on its story and appreciate a good soundtrack, give Nier a go – and just experience the mind-blowing story it has to offer.

Bry Rating: 3/5
Recommended? Definitely, for a compelling, and addictive story.
Country of Origin: Japan
Developer: Cavia

 

Listening To: NieR Gestalt and Replicant Original Soundtrack

Nier OST Cover

So lately I’ve been listening a lot to video game soundtracks. Whilst not the most popular or polished games of Square Enix (or any game for that matter), NieR stands to be a guilty pleasure of mine for two reasons – the plot and the music.

Now you may be thinking “It’s just video game music in a mediocre game“. Ah, but my dear friend, how many games have gone through the effort to complete all the vocals in a completely new (that is to say, non-existent) languages? Keiichi Okabe, the lead composer of the album has done such extraordinary work that rather than making the music fit the game – much of the game itself was changed to fit the music.

Perhaps it was the work Emi Evans. She was responsible for the interesting language of the album, incorporating French, Spanish, Portuguese, Scottish Gaelic, Italian, Japanese and her own “futuristic” language. Her vocals are just simply beyond what words can describe – I beg of you, please take a listen. The songs themselves are movingly melancholic, an indication to the overwhelming sense of hopelessness and despair posed by the entire world of Nier (If you’ve finished it completely, you would understand). But don’t take my word for it. While many gave the game mixed or negative reviews, it was often found that the soundtrack in a way redeemed it (Thanks Emi, really).

I personally listen to this soundtrack to calm down or to fly through the homework that piles up on my desk. It’s insanely soothing, and if you’ve played the game, strangely perceptive. I find that, while I don’t understand 99% of what is being sung, I wholly relate to it – and you would to if you would just take a listen.

Songs to look out for:

  • Hills of the Radiant Wind
  • Grandma
  • Yonah (Piano and Strings Ver.)
  • Emil Sacrifice
  • Ashes of Dreams -New-
  • Song of the Ancients (Devola Ver.)