If NieR Automata was your first experience with the Nier series and you are hoping to quench your thirst for more NieR styled content in NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… (I’ll just call it NieR Replicant v1.22 from now…), then you need to understand this – NieR Replicant ver.1.22 and NieR Automata are two very different games set in a very different timeline (thousands of years apart), featuring unrelated protagonists, and although both games are similar in personality, they are far from being identical in character.
The upcoming NieR Replicant v1.22 is a remastered version of the original NieR game. The first NieR Replicant was released in Japan 10 years ago, featuring the protagonist Nier, and the tale surrounding his quests to cure his younger sister, Yonah, from a plague liked disease called the Black Scrawl.
There was also a second version of the same game by the name of NieR Gestalt that was released in North America. In this version, the protagonist is a middle-aged man and a father to Yonnah, the difference in role and the protagonist’s age were the only distinctions between the two versions.
As the remastered title had suggested, this upgraded version of the game takes after the original Japanese NieR Replicant. And as suspected of a remastered title, most of the changes took shape in the forms of “upgrades”, therefore no one should come expecting a brand new game with existing level graphics and visual effects.
The visual/graphics department formed the earliest impression – 60 steady frames per second on the PlayStation 5, good draw distance, and visual upgrades everywhere I saw. It goes without saying, the game looked much better visually than the original version. In fact, the Replicant’s open-world consisting of still lush green environment and blue sky makes it a better-looking game than Automata’s gloomy desert and ruins theme.
The developers at Toylogic have said in an interview that the upgraded Replicant will see a new combat system that’s aimed at appealing to Automata fans and to that, I would say they landed very near to their target. The high-paced intense action that produces beautiful combos coupled with meaningful parries and dodges that really put Automata above other action games is strongly felt here.
Melee attacks are dished out using normal weapons and for much of the early game, only the single-handed sword is accessible to me before my progression eventually unlocks more – Two-Handed Swords and Spear types. At this point, all 3 weapon types and their selection will be available for picks via a quick-switch menu. I could have muscled my way through any fights by just utilising a single weapon type but the damage output would have been inefficient and less fun. It is when I switch around my weapons to take advantage of the different perks and qualities imbued into them is where the combat really shines.
The ranged attack comes from Grimoire Weiss, a mysterious tome companion that I had unlocked after reaching a certain mileage in the game. Weiss, a flying and talking book capable of sarcasm is also responsible for magical attacks (identical to the pod skills in Automata). A cleverly timed magical attack with the added damages from the weapon combos would usually result in satisfying results and a leftover pool of blood on the ground after a battle is concluded.
And oh, if it’s not obvious enough when I mentioned “beautiful combos”, “shines”, and “satisfying”, they meant the combat in this game is fluid and ace.
But just like in Automata, boss fights here can be punishing when not approached properly. As happy as I usually am sword dancing my way to victory, boss fights usually require a certain approach, and sometimes even a certain mechanism. For instance, there was part of a boss fight at Junk Heap – an old defunct military factory, that requires a carefully timed and aimed toss of a bomb into the boss’ mouth to deal substantial damage.
There are also fights where only range attacks would work or how certain magic abilities would suit better and I learned that the hard way. My fight against the Hook, a boss in the Aerie (an area in the game) took place over different courses in the map and through multiple phases before I finally beat it. I almost didn’t because I was stubbornly sticking to my bread and butter moves (just sword dancing) while ignoring more viable options. It wasn’t until I realised that I was literally down to the last health potion that I decided to try some new moves (not just hacking and slashing!). I downed its HP to zero, and it downed mine to within an inch of the same.
All-in-all fights in Nier Replicant constantly challenges the player to step out of their comfort zone and to duel them on their terms. That being said, boss fights in this game are rarely boring and usually make me quit my lazy posture to sit upright for it. If you’ve enjoyed Automata’s fighting style, you’d most probably enjoy it here as well.
Though it should be noted that most of the casual fights in the game felt pretty easy to muscle through (except for the boss fights). I would recommend playing the game on Hard mode for a more meaningful combat experience.
The loading speed of this game is worth praising but mind you, I am playing on the PS5. I have not been able to try the game on the PS4 to measure the difference, but I reckon the performance on both consoles is not far apart (if there’s any difference indeed). Good loading speed benefits the game in many ways, especially when it comes to farming. If you are someone like me who likes to grind, the mere seconds loading time it takes to quit and re-enter a map is premium luxury. Mobs would respawn every time you quit and re-enter a map, so does the loots and wildlife – you can imagine how convenient it is to farm.
Music, Story, Characters, Voice Talents, etc – I still have much to share about this game but I’ll keep them for the full game review that’ll be coming soon. For now, I’m just happy to be playing a Nier game again and if you are here hoping to form a conclusion on whether you should pre-order it – my vote would be a yes but the rest is up to you.
For now, stay tuned to our full review of NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139 and mark your calendar for the game’s full launch this coming April 22, 2021, on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The game is playable via backward compatibility on the new-gen consoles like the PlayStation 5.