It is strange to see Nier as a popular franchise now because it was a fairly obscure one when the original Nier debuted on the PS3 and Xbox 360. The main criticism against the game was for its lackluster gameplay and combat but praised for its character development and story. Overall, it was critically panned and failed to become a commercial success thus leading to the franchise being put on ice.
It was not until Nier Automata released in 2019 that the franchise just exploded in popularity. Nier Automata was a successor to the original Nier that offered a completely different story and characters but still shared the same world. Due to Automata’s popularity, Square Enix decided to go back to the drawing board with the original Nier and the result is in front of us with the launch of NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139.
NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139 is neither a remaster nor a remake. It feels more like an enhanced version of the original game updated to bring it to modern standards. The combat feels like it is now refined and retouched to play closer to Nier Automata. The graphics have been completely overhauled. What hasn’t changed is the underlying game mechanics and design, which still shows its dated roots. It is hard to call it a remaster since there is a lot of effort made to portray it as a new game, and this is not a remake either because the original game is still intact here, so we can just call it an updated version, kind of like how old movie transitions to 4K Blu-ray.
For all of its improvements, the combat feels like the most significant one. It has elevated the game from a somewhat middling experience to a memorable one. Battles work out similar to how they were in Nier Automata. There is a lock-on system in place to keep track of enemies. Magic is also possible combined with standard physical attacks making the combat feel dynamic. You can equip two abilities at a time so there is plenty of time to experiment and discover what fits your style. Players are not alone in their fights and have NPCs to help them during battle. You can issue them various commands, but they don’t appear to drastically alter their behavior.
The visual upgrade is nice but the quality feels inconsistent. The main characters have received the most attention with improvements made to their character mode while the side characters suffer as a result, appearing sluggish and low-quality. The character development is the strongest part of Nier Replicant with a quirky likable cast. The story keeps you on your toes but just like its successor, the only way to get the complete picture is to replay the game multiple times. There are more than four endings to attempt, each requiring a replay of the main campaign. There is additional story content that expands on the story helping establish some key story moments.
Despite the improvements made to the combat, the game has a rough start. The world feels bland to explore whether by nature or design. You spend most of your time trying to complete the various errands offered by NPCs. This is a classic example of dated game design that hasn’t been rectified with this release. You will have to backtrack a lot when exploring the open world of Nier Replicant and this gets repetitive quickly. You might be enjoying the story but the slow progression and tedious errands can take their toll making it a less than optimal experience. If you do manage to pull through, the writing, voice acting, and soundtrack are all sublime offering an experience unmatched in other games.
On the technical side, it was disappointing to find out a lack of support for the PS5, or even higher resolution for the PS4 Pro The game appears to run fine and the performance is satisfying, but a bump in resolution could have made the visual improvements shine better on the PS4. While the price feels slightly higher considering it is a re-release of an old game with warts and all, but the counterargument here is the replay value, which is honestly significant enough to consider it well worth your time and money.
NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139 is not a game that is perfect by any means, but despite its flawed gameplay design, ultimately the narrative and character development are more than enough to consider it one of the best games released this year.
Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher