GameSpot's Best Games of 2017 has finally kicked off, so join us as we unveil what we thought were the 10 best games released this year. At the coveted #10 spot this year is PlayStation 4 exclusive Nier: Automata. Read on to see why we chose this Platinum Games title as one of the best for 2017.
Nier: Automata beautifully expresses and flaunts its unconventional designs right in its opening minutes. From robots forming suicide pacts to a boss fight that would've been the final scene in other games, this first half hour effectively delivers a sampler course of the many narrative and gameplay surprises you'll encounter in this 35-hour journey of android existentialism.
Its setting is a surrealist vision of Earth nearly 10,000 years in the future, where humanity struggles to reclaim the planet after an alien machine invasion. The game's region effectively blends urban dilapidation with deserts, forests, and theme park absurdity, forming a land that often feels otherworldly. And you explore this modestly sized open world in the high heels and lolita-goth garb of the battle-hardened 2B, a combat android, joined by her clingy sidekick, the AI-controlled 9S.
Nier Automata's post-apocalyptic world is explored through the distinct gameplay vision of developer Platinum Games. 2B and her robotic peers fight with the deadly melee-focused grace the studio is known for, not quite as exquisitely as Bayonetta but more manageable than Raiden from Metal Gear Rising: Revengance. Stringing combos of light and heavy attacks feels exhilarating the more you fend off hostile automatons. When you add elegant dodges to your repertoire, battles can feel like an improvisational dance as your deftly mix offensive and defensive maneuvers in the span of seconds.
The gratifying combat is all the more enhanced by customizing 2B's armaments and abilities. From automatic healing to customized user interfaces, Nier: Automata offers numerous ways to tailor its heroine to your specific hack-and-slashing preferences.
An open-world Platinum game is a rare treat in itself, and it's just one of the ways Nier: Automata excels in less-explored concepts. Iconic creator Yoko Taro threw in shoot-em-up sequences, Nietzsche-obsessed robots, and a soundtrack that is loaded with soaring vocals and haunting chants. He even subverts the traditional constructs of video game endings; the first time credits roll, you've just started 2B's journey. And just when you think that the alternative perspective of the second playthrough hints that Nier: Automata is playing Rashomon-like tricks on you, at no point does it prepare you for the twists that lead to game's 25 other endings.
Some of Nier: Automata's fourth wall-breaking and narrative slights of hand help convey its philosophical subjects. It walks the thematic paths beaten by Pinocchio, The Terminator, and other works where man-made automatons develop self-awareness, identity, and even feelings. And in an entertainment medium where the cycle of death and rebirth has long been synonymous, Nier: Automata makes its characters and the players face scenarios of self-sacrifice, where losing the means to respawn isn't as straightforward as a "Game Over".