I forgot about this game until now, and went on several sites to see it got atrocious scores from critics. However, I read player reviews and forums such as this and it sound like it's a game for those who really like classic RPG's. So I picked it up for 12 bucks and am going to give it a shot...
This dreary action role-playing game has its worthwhile moments, but they're separated by countless hours of fetch-quest tedium.
- Varied elements pulled from different genres
- Some cool camera transitions
- Great soundtrack.
- Unending fetch quests
- Tedious puzzle sequences
- Story takes way too long to get interesting
- Combat is easy and boring.
Nier is stuffed with ideas. It is first and foremost a role-playing game, but it incorporates elements from hack-and-slash swordfests, top-down shoot-'em-ups, two-dimensional platformers, and puzzle games. These elements coalesce nicely in the four or five concluding hours, when Nier drops interesting plot developments while giving you a chance to unleash powerful attacks on menacing-looking (if pushover) bosses. Unfortunately, the 25 or 30 hours leading up to that finale are abysmally paced and dreadfully boring. You don't feel you are the hero in a grand adventure as much as an ugly errand boy with bad hair and a sick daughter, wandering through the same uninspired environments over and over and coping with long stretches of nothing. That's a shame, because Nier's fantastic final hours and a few other graceful details pack some emotional punch. But in spite of its exciting coda and a bright fanfare or two, this action RPG is mostly a long and plodding symphony with too many rests and too few high notes.
The slow pace would be easier to endure if Nier's story drew you in, but the first half of the game offers precious little of substance to chew on. Your daughter Yonah suffers from a disease called the black scrawl, which is slowly killing her and looks to be connected to the lanky spirits called shades that are invading the region. Your character (you name him yourself) is concerned with one thing: to save Yonah from certain death. You encounter a few fascinating twists and uncover some insidious secrets about the old world, but these surprises come late in the game. The father is an uncomplicated and single-minded hero with little to say, yet little air of mystery either. He's also incredibly homely. Dad's triangular face, pronounced chin, and stiff hairdo make him one of the ugliest character models you've seen in years. Interesting protagonists needn't be attractive, of course, but Nier's leading man isn't interesting, or charming, or secretive, or complex, or anything else either. As a result, it's difficult to get invested in this man or his daughter, whom you really never get to know.
Fortunately, a few adventuring companions inject a bit of energy into the soggy story. The most important of them is a sentient book. His name is Grimoire Weiss (don't leave out the "Grimoire" part, unless you want him to deliver a tongue lashing), and he's the source of your magic spells. He's also the most interesting character in the game, and thankfully so, since he's also the most talkative. Weiss is an uppity relic of an unknown age with a British accent and an aggressively prudish attitude--a prep-school prefect with an encyclopedic memory and body shape. The laconic quips he occasionally drops might bring a smile to your face; a ridiculously melodramatic, page-flapping conversation Weiss has with another book, on the other hand, leads to the wrong kinds of laughs. Weiss' antithesis is Kaine, a moody, potty-mouthed young lady from a nearby village. Kaine isn't wholly unlikable, but her filthy language is astoundingly inappropriate for the setting. Nier takes place in the future, but the setting is part fantasy, part steampunk, and part Japanese myth. The profanity is unnecessary and comes across as a forced attempt to seem edgy. An insecure but good-hearted floating skeleton with a bulbous head rounds out your party and is at the center of Nier's most tender turn of events.
Sadly, these characters represent glimmers of personality in an otherwise unexciting world. There are a few sights with a bit of artistic flair, such as a village in the desert populated by masked eccentrics. You spend more time, however, in Nier's overlarge, unattractive green fields. Until you unlock a somewhat helpful quick-travel option later in the game, completing the dozens of side quests involves traipsing back and forth through the same few areas over and again. Go collect some recipe ingredients. Go slay some sheep and bring back the meat. Take this item to be fixed, and then search for the raw materials for the repair. Questing is a series of monotonous events, often connected only by long stretches of nothing. Do you want to upgrade your weapon? You must walk (or ride a boar) across a seemingly endless field and then climb up a series of ladders and trot down a bridge to get to the right shop--the only shop that exists in that area. Do you need to return to a local village populated by the paranoid? You must traverse a ridiculous network of ladders and walkways every time you visit. You spend far too much time traveling from place to place, desperately wishing something interesting would happen.
Nier is structured like many other role-playing games. You complete quests, gain levels, find and purchase new weapons, loot corpses, and so on. The combat, however, is of the Devil May Cry, hack-and-slash variety. You mash buttons to slice up enemies, double-jump and tumble, and charge up attacks to do a bit of extra damage. You also earn a variety of magic skills that you can assign to the bumpers and triggers, from a giant hand you can thwap enemies with, to a rotating whirlwind that damages most foes that come near you. The combat is functional, but it isn't exciting. Part of this has to do with the lack of enemy variety. Some clever bosses notwithstanding, you fight the same few types of shades, some robots, a few wolves, and a charging boar or two. (If you get frustrated by the boars' enormous, practically broken hitboxes, stand behind a boulder; the creatures will just charge into the rock and knock themselves out for a few seconds, over and over again.)
I disagree so much, this is an amazing game.
sure takes a while to get into and the side quests are pointless, if you do them its for trohpy, you can choose not to. but once it gets to where you meet emil it gets so good, seriously some of the events gave me goosbumps and brought a tear into my eye at how emotional it was, very epic game with some of the best soundtrack.
Wow, weird that I was just re-reading this and I completely agree, it's not perfect but my god did it affect me in a way no other game has been able too.
This is one review Gamespot got seriously wrong. Everything said in this review was wrong - boring main character, laughable swearing, bad combat, dull story!!?? This probably has the best story of any RPG this gen.
Seriously, this is one of the least "spot-on" reviews I've ever read. There is no "fetch-quest" that is required in the game and all story quests expand on the quality story within this game. I find this reviewer to emit a tone of the typical elitest rpg gamer who loves a certain style of rpg and this game didn't fit that bill. This is one of the better games this gen and one of Square's best IP's in the last 20 years.
@skydancerofchao They even gave this a game emblem for weak story. It defies belief...! I'm doubting they fully played it through, even if they say they did. And if they thought it was too easy, why not knock it up to Hard? I did and it was much tougher. Took me ages to beat Hook during his first appearance.