As a unique game overlooked from a poor release date, Nier is an interesting twist on how videogames can be presented to the player. Nier opens to a distressed father direly concerned about his daughter and her potentially fatal sickness known as the Dark Scrawl. After a brief tutorial, the player takes control of the father named Nier and is able to explore an expansive action adventure world. You begin in this world by collecting money through quests in order to support his daughter, Yonah, and strive to cure her sickness.
The world is underdeveloped with small markets and buildings making up most of the small towns. You quickly learn dark scribble-like creatures known as Shades roam the open world outside the towns. Nier gets an assortment of magic and weapons to slay the shades in a bloody mist. As Nier continues through the storyline, the main cast of characters forms to include Grimoire Weiss, a magic book that allows you to cast spells through him, a small boy named Emil with the power to petrify enemies, and lastly, Kaine, a scantily clad female who possess Shade powers, all to help cure Yonahs’ sickness. Shortly after the group is formed, Nier returns to his hometown to find a rampaging Shade and the kidnapping of his daughter. Can the trials and tribulations of this small group save Yonah and free her from her sickness?
The controls for Xbox 360 are very easy to use and work smoothly together. The four buttons supply actions for melee hits, dodging, block breaking and blocking, while each left and right bumper can control one magic attack each provided by Grimoire Weiss. The magic can be switched at any time through the main menu. I did not have any problems at all with the controls and found them very efficient for fighting. The main menu could be organized a bit better; it gets tedious to sort through all your items and to find new items you may have obtained.
Scenery throughout the land is simple but visually complete with rocks and trees through the area. The land is very expansive, but not much changes as the story progresses, even through a time skip in the storyline. What makes up for the lack of changes is that each new zone and town has a different environment and feel to it.
What impressed me most about Nier was the variety of different gaming styles used to keep the player involved. The genre of this game is an action-adventure/RPG, yet it utilizes side-scrolling aspects, overhead camera views, fixed camera angles and even text-based RPGs.
Though Yonah, her father and the rest of the cast have involved backstories, the majority of the game is spent doing side quests. Lots of them. Most of the quests help you gather money to make it easier to get through the game, and they are not necessary to complete the game, but they generally help. Honestly, I feel it helps make Nier more complete, as the game focuses on the plethora of quests.
A really fun aspect of Nier was the boss fights. They force the player to adapt through stages of the fight and end in a neat cutscene. I liked that the dungeons were not long, and some dungeons had humorous dialog or sequences.
One unique aspect of the game I found very appealing and unexpectedly pleasant was the music. The music is not common for a game that has blood spurting out of enemies with every hit and magic attack. It is very soothing and peaceful. It is, however, repetitive, which didn’t bother me but could definitely get on your friends’ nerves if they are watching you play.
Although the quests in Nier absorb a lot of your time, sometimes the description of the quests can be confusing and you will have no idea where to go. Particularly I found what could be a lot better was the fishing quests. In order to fish, you have to watch the fishing rod drastically bend in order to tell a fish is hooked. Your thin fishing rod is very hard to see against a white, rolling, ocean. Different areas of the ocean and every lake are a different skill levels to fish in. The NPC who first teaches you how to fish is located in an elevated fishing skill level, but there are no markers as to how high of a level you should be in order to fish in them.
I would recommend Nier to anyone looking for an inexpensive game to put some free time into. Despite its small storyline, this is a 30-40 hour game with all the quests and upgrading that can be done. The game can be played many times, as there are a few different endings. If you’re the kind of player that just wants to get through a game fast, Nier probably isn’t a game you would want to try. There’s a lot of cutscenes, and the game can get rather hack-n-slash and repetitive. Not many new enemies show up through the various areas, and every area you visit, you will visit a lot.
That said, I would definitely say Nier is worth buying if you like RPG games or action adventure games with strategy. I personally enjoy games in which every hit and dodge you do is determined by your reflexes on a controller. I do not regret purchasing it, but renting the game first to decide how involved you want to get with a long game might be the best idea.