Nier is a game that nearly passed my radar if it weren’t for the horrible things that were spouted about it on the Internet. Most of these things are true, fortunately for me though this worked towards bringing out another Noble Failures. Nier was developer Cavia, a company known for releasing games that are Japanese as tentacle rape and published by Square Enix the creators of the most Japanese games ever. Bring us Nier a tale of a father trying to save his daughter from a deadly disease.
Set 1300 years in the future wherein the world has been turned into a shadow of his former self. Vile monsters called Shades along with a disease called the black scrawl have reduced the human population to a handful of sparsely populated villages. Your player named character and his group of friends set out to discover the secrets of the world and find a cure for the black scrawl that has infected your daughter Yonah. Your group is made up of Grimoire Weiss a talking book, Kaine a foul mouthed young women with a shade inside her and Emil a boy that turns people to stone. Nier possibly has one of the greatest ensembles of video game characters since final fantasy 3 on the SNES (FF6 for Super Famicon). The banter between the characters is some of the most genuinely funny and emotional scenes I ever seen in games. The Voice acting is also stellar. The general plot is odd and bumbling at times, but it’s tolerable because you get to spend so much time with such great characters and seem them develop.
The real shame of the game is the game play that is both tedious and clunky that will have you wondering how this got out the door. Fights with enemies always feel obtuse and annoying. Now don’t confuse bad game play with challenge as the game sees fit that you move like molasses the entire time. The only good thing you get out of the combat is the magical abilities that are mandatory in order to progress. I give the game praise for being one of the first action RPG’s that actually require other abilities aside form stabbing the shit out of the enemies (see God of War).
Done in an open world setting the game makes you travel on foot from location to location with no fast travel till the last bit of the game. The game early on gives you a giant boar to use as a mount but since it can’t turn worth crap travel on it is cumbersome at best. The ability to “drift” your boar was funny for about 2 seconds till you realize the game designers were actually serious. Overall a major flaw in level design.
For a game released this year you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at the graphics. They look like middle era PS2 and the fact that the world feels likes it’s been washed out give a boring light pastel color to it. Only few cut scenes show any type of next gen feel and I can fit them on one hand.
In total Nier is a game with great characters that go through really well laid out character arcs but the downside are you had to play the game to understand them? But this does not constitute the reason why it’s a Noble Failure.
The game does choice with consequence better than any game on the market. Near the end of the game once you have completed a certain amount of side quests and got all the weapons, you are asked to make a choice. (Kind of spoiler) kill a close friend to ease their suffering or sacrifice your entire being to give them a second chance at life. Now in most games where they ask for a player sacrifice (Fallout 3, dragon age or mass effect 2) you can easily reload the save and get both endings. But not this, the game states it will be as though you never existed and all you’re save files will be deleted and the characters will have no relocation of you if you make this choice.
The only mark that is left on your system to say you played this game is the achievements/trophies you earned along with a new one for making the ultimate sacrifice. Now this idea can be seen as cheap as it attack the player but maybe that’s what game designs need to do to get real choices out of characters. Now for a game that fails on so many other counts I would love to see this concept refined and brought back to future titles.
The story between the title character and Yonah is done with such care as you get letters from her because she misses you so much. A true loving bond between parent and child if I ever seen one. Makes Bioshock 2 parent/child story fall flat in comparison and I liked that aspect of Bioshock 2.
Past Noble Failures –