Nier Automata: Now with good gameplay

Nier Automata Demo – Impressions

 

Tea: Lemon Sencha

 

The prospect of a new Nier is already enough to send me over all the moons known to man and a few more with anticipation, but also being developed by Platinum Games is just too much for my little frail body to bear. But then anxiety settled in, since this was simply too good to be true. I felt uncertain whether the Platinum style gameplay could be mixed with the story of Nier and create an effective blend. Additionally, Platinum had a few hiccups with their last games and thus I felt a growing fear of this heart-project of mine failing. Luckily, a demo came out recently to show whether Platinum still has it in regard to stylish fast paced gameplay.

The demo stars 2B an android on her mission to seek out a devastating machine “the enemy” has apparently hidden somewhere. We get very little context for the entire demo, only brief talks between 2B and her temporary partner 9S, a young boy android. More questions are raised than answered. Apparently, mankind has left earth and now mindless machines roam the wasteland, but whether they were the reason for their leave or merely the harbingers is unknow. Another oddity is the separation between 2B and the machines, since they regard the other as mindless and almost savage. But they are machines as well, albeit they may be unaware of it at this point or they attribute different standards to themselves and their enemies, using clothes as a measure of culture, for instance, which the others lack. They also talk about the fact that the showing of emotions is forbidden, so they seem to be capable of displaying them, or maybe they merely think they are. All that being said, while the demo is only a brief cut-out from the final game, it still manages to feel contained, oddly enough.

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– A killing robot is in desperate need of high heels, otherwise it just doesn’t work. –

But what we are truly here for is gameplay, of course. The demo provides you with two weapons, one light and one heavy. Additionally, you have your pod, a floating little robot which can fire at a rapid pace and occasionally shoots a gigantic beam. In terms of defence, the almighty block from Nier is gone, which was game-breaking anyway, now it is replaced with the trademark Platinum dodging you came to love and respect from Bayonetta. It is a kind of swift glide along the ground and can be chained seemingly infinitely. Should you evade at the last second you safely escape all damage and can immediately strike back, or – and this is new – chain these last second evasions together to create a beautiful ballet of dodging skill, which comes in handy during the boss fight. Combat is as fast and satisfying as you would expect with combos being at the centre of the experience. I especially enjoyed the fact that 2B seems to take advantage of her advanced technology, since she can simply return her swords to her at will and thus combos often involve hurling swords around where they would be hard to retrieve. It is a nice touch and adds another layer of raw viciousness to the combat which thus manages a tight-rope walk between elegance and brutality. Gracefully lifting an enemy off the ground only to slam him back down with brute force was fun with Dante and it is fun here. I only wish the pod had another option apart from simply firing projectiles. From the trailers, I know that he has abilities similar to Weiss from the first game, like creating spears from the ground etc. so only being able to shoot in two different ways feels kind of lacklustre, but I suppose they want to save some surprises for the full game.

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– I do hope there is a bit more variety in the enemy design, let’s wait and see. –

Another big concern of mine was the soundtrack, whether they could pull of another collection of masterpieces like the first title. What is in the demo is simply amazing. The Nier style is back in full force with an industrial twist, necessitated by the new less organic environment. The boss tracks still pump you up for battle and my concerns have been blown away. The art direction hits dead on as well, creating an eerie hollow feeling in the abandoned factories and lifeless roaming machines, crossed with the elegant and intriguing main character design.

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– *cue: Rules of Nature* –

All the classic parts of Nier have made it into the game, the bullet hell sequences, the camera angle changes, the big glowing balls, the amazing soundtrack and art design, and now even good gameplay. Nier Automata is quickly shaping up to be one of my most anticipated games to date and I cannot wait to sink my teeth into it. The demo has shattered all concern and I am now ready to be taken on a another emotional roller-coaster now with stylish action focused gameplay that would win an approving nod of Dante himself.

 

 

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