In 2010, Square Enix released two versions of the same game: Nier Gestalt, and Nier Replicant. Nier Gestalt is the version that released outside of Japan, changing a number of elements to the story and the main character. Fast forward 11 years, and Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139 is finally giving players around the world a chance to enjoy the game as it was originally intended, alongside some new elements. For longtime fans of the series, the changes should be quite welcome, but for those that have never experienced either version of Nier, the game is no less compelling.
Nier Replicant is a sequel of sorts to Drakengard. That game featured five different endings, including one where the world is left in a state of decay, which is where Nier Replicant picks up. Fortunately, players unfamiliar with Drakengard can jump into Nier Replicant with no knowledge of the previous game. When Nier Replicant opens, players find themselves in the role of a boy taking care of his sickly sister Yonah, who has been infected with a disease known as the Black Scrawl, which has no known cure and is continually making her weaker. The world is covered with deadly creatures known as Shades, which make it difficult for the townspeople to travel outside the town’s walls. In order to get money to take care of his sister, the hero takes on odd jobs. After an encounter with a sentient book known as Grimoire Weiss, however, the hero discovers that a group of Sealed Verses may hold the key to saving his sister.
Given the state of the game’s world, Nier Replicant‘s narrative can be very dark and depressing. The hero will encounter plenty of people looking for help reuniting with lost loved ones, only to find they’ve met a tragic end. The main story also takes some sad and surprising turns. Thankfully, the interactions between the game’s characters really help to lighten the mood. On his quest, the hero is joined by two companions: the optimistic Emil and the foul-mouthed Kaine. Laura Bailey provides the voice work for Kaine, and her dialogue is jaw-dropping. It’s unlike anything players are used to hearing from this type of game, and it can take a bit of getting used to. As the game goes on, it really adds to the humor, and her interactions with the stuck-up Grimoire Weiss are absolutely hilarious.
Nier Replicant is an action-RPG with combat that feels reminiscent of 3D Zelda games. The game tasks players with hacking and slashing away at the Shades that populate the world, initially starting players off with one-handed swords before opening up additional options. All of the game’s weapons can be customized in different ways, including through Word Edits that increase Attack Power, Item Drop Rate, and other stats. Players can also use magic through Grimoire Weiss. Each Sealed Verse the player unlocks allows the floating tome to use a different attack, which can also be made more powerful through Word Edits.
While the majority of the game follows a formula similar to Zelda, the game often decides to shake things up. One area sees the game shift to an isometric perspective similar to dungeon crawlers like Diablo II. Another offers a wild homage to the original Resident Evil, complete with fixed camera angles. One of the most intriguing areas in the game actually offers a quest that takes place entirely through text. Some of these gameplay experiments work better than others, but the changes keep things interesting, giving Nier Replicant a feel all its own.
From a graphics standpoint, Nier Replicant is a good-looking game. The environments are memorable and stand out from one another, and the character models look good; a newcomer would never know this was a game that released 11 years ago. Players that have been spending time with the next-gen consoles shouldn’t expect to see anything too mind-blowing, but Nier Replicant is still a game with strong visuals.
If there’s one area where Nier Replicant truly excels, it’s the music. The sound, in general, is strong, with great voice acting, but the soundtrack is nothing short of exceptional. Nearly every track in the game is catchy and beautiful. One optional quest offers a song from characters Devola and Popola as its only reward, and that payoff felt more rewarding than any other side quest. If you plan on buying Nier Replicant, set aside an extra $35.99 for the Square Enix store, because you’ll probably want the soundtrack, as well.
Going into Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I never played Drakengard, Nier Automata, Gestalt, or anything else. None of that mattered, because Square Enix’s remake hooked me from the beginning and didn’t let go. Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139 is a gorgeous game with a compelling plot and a stunning soundtrack. If you’re a fan of the original game, you’ll probably want to see what this version has to offer, and if you’ve never experienced the game in any form, this is an opportunity to play the game as it was first intended.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139 is set to release tomorrow, April 23rd, on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. A digital code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review, and it was reviewed on a base model PlayStation 4.