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Nier

Nier

Nier

Nier is an action role-playing video game developed by Cavia and published by Square Enix. It was released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in Australia, Europe, Japan and North America in April 2010. In Japan, the game was released as Nier Gestalt for the Xbox 360, while an alternate version entitled Nier Replicant was released for PlayStation 3 with a younger main character. The game follows the fifth ending of Drakengard, the events of which have left the planet Earth in a state of decay. Set over one thousand years after this, the game puts the player in control of the titular protagonist Nier, as he attempts to find a cure for an illness, known as the Black Scrawl, to which his daughter Yonah has succumbed. Partnering with a talking book known as Grimoire Weiss, he journeys with two other characters, Kainé and Emil, as he attempts to find a remedy and understand the nature of the creatures known as Shades that stalk the world. The gameplay borrows elements from various video game genres, switching to them from the primary action role-playing style.

The game was developed to appeal both to older players and to players outside of Japan, where the developer was based. The music was composed by Keiichi Okabe, head of Monaca, a music composition studio, and has sparked the release of several albums. Nier was released to mixed reception; reviewers praised the story, characters and soundtrack and were mixed in their opinions of how well the disparate gameplay elements were connected. Criticism was given for the execution of some gameplay elements, particularly the side quests, and was especially pronounced for the graphics, which were regarded as substandard.

Nier Plot

The game opens with a prologue during the summer of 2049 in a snowstorm. In a modern, broken-down grocery store, Nier fends off attacks from ethereal monsters to protect a sick young girl, Yonah. After defeating the monsters, he checks on Yonah, who has begun to cough badly. The game then cuts to 1,312 years later, where the player sees what appears to be the same two characters, now living in a village built upon the ruins of an old town. The low-technology village is one of several, and is surrounded by more modern ruins such as the remnants of train tracks and industrial machinery. The areas between towns are filled with monsters known as Shades that attack travelers.

As his daughter's illness, the Black Scrawl, is terminal, Nier sets out to look for a cure. As he does, Nier finds a talking book, Grimoire Weiss, which suggests that the two team up to use Weiss' magic and to find a cure for Yonah's disease. In their search they encounter the hot-tempered, foul-mouthed Kainé; and a blindfolded young boy, Emil, whose eyes petrify anyone that they see. After journeying for a time, the village is attacked by a giant shade; the battle culminates in Yonah being carried away by a master Shade that suddenly appears—the Shadowlord—who carries his own book, Grimoire Noir.

The game then jumps five years forward. Nier and the others are trying to find the parts to a key that they believe will help them locate the Shadowlord and Grimoire Noir. After defeating five shades and assembling the key, the team go to defeat the Shadowlord. There, Devola and Popola, characters who have been guiding Nier on his quest, appear to try to stop them. They explain that over 1300 years prior, humanity faced extinction due to an incurable disease. In an attempt to survive, they separated their souls from their bodies using Grimoire Noir and Weiss. They created clones resistant to the disease, Replicants, and intended to recombine the souls, or Gestalts, with the Replicant bodies once it had died out; Devola and Popola were androids set to oversee the project. Over time the Replicants had begun to form their own identities, while the Gestalts, or Shades, had grown aggressive to them.

Nier defeats the pair, with Emil sacrificing himself as part of the battle. The team then defeats the Shadowlord, and discovers that he is the Gestalt form of the Nier from the prologue. Driven to protect his daughter, he was the first Gestalt and has combined his daughter with the Replicant Yonah. The original Yonah, however, tells her father that she can hear the new Yonah inside her, and that she loves her father and deserves the body just as much. She vacates the body, and Nier and Yonah are reunited.

If the player plays the game again, they start just after the five-year skip. They learn about Kainé's past, including that she is intersex, which along with the death of her parents resulted in her ostracism as a child, and that she is partially possessed by a shade. The player gains the ability to understand what the shades are saying, including the one possessing Kainé, though in-game Nier, Weiss, and Emil are still unable to. Additional cutscenes are also shown, giving the motivations and backstory behind the shade bosses that are fought and showing them as sentient people trying to defend their friends against Nier. The ending to the second playthrough shows that Emil survives his sacrifice, and that Gestalt Nier and Yonah are reunited after death. A third playthrough presents the player with a choice in the ending to save Kainé, who is seen to be dying in agony; Nier can either kill her to end her suffering, or sacrifice his life for her. The latter choice erases all memory of him from the other characters' minds, shown in a final cutscene, and deletes all of the player's saved progress as if the game had never been played. Moreover, if the player wants to start a new game, they will be unable to enter the same name chosen for the previous playthrough for the Nier character.

Nier Gameplay

Players take control of Nier—a middle-aged man in Nier and Nier Gestalt and a teenaged boy in Nier Replicant—though the character can be renamed by the player. The player directly controls Nier through a third-person perspective to interact with people, objects, and enemies throughout the game. The player can also turn the camera around the characters, which allows for a 360° view of the surroundings. The three-dimensional world is divided into areas separated by loading screens, and the player can move freely throughout these areas by walking, running, jumping, and climbing ladders. In specific rooms and buildings, the camera swings to the side and Nier is restricted to moving as in a two-dimensional platforming environment, while during certain battles the camera pulls up to simulate a top-down shoot 'em up or other video game genres.

While traveling the player is frequently attacked by monsters, which include shadowy figures called Shades, large animals, and robots. Defeating these enemies gives the player experience points that can increase Nier's power, and money that can be used to purchase items. Nier can attack these creatures with either a one- or two-handed sword, or a spear. These weapons can be customized to have greater damage and abilities using materials that can be purchased, dropped from monsters, or scavenged around the world. Multiple different varieties of each weapon type can be acquired. The player can also use magic spells, which require enough energy from a constantly regenerating amount to cast. These spells include projectiles and large shadowy fists, among others; new spells are acquired in the first half of the game by completing specific battles. In addition to the main plotline, Nier includes numerous side-quests, which give the player experience points and money, as well as fishing and farming segments.

Reception
In Japan, Nier Gestalt sold over 12,500 copies in Japan the week of its release, while Replicant sold over 60,000 and was the top-selling video game in Japan that week. Replicant sold over 121,000 copies in Japan by the end of May 2010.

Nier received mixed reviews. Reviewers criticized the graphics, with Ryan Clements of IGN saying that "one of Nier's greatest flaws is its visuals," while GameSpot's Kevin VanOrd bemoaned the "flavorless visuals" and "lifeless environments". Dustin Quillen of 1UP.com said that the game "looks downright primitive", while Adriaan den Ouden of RPGamer, who awarded the game a higher score than most, said that "the environments are bland and poorly rendered". The music and voice acting, however, were praised; Clements said that "both are quite excellent", den Ouden called the soundtrack "absolutely fantastic", Chris Schilling of Eurogamer said that the music was full of "memorable themes", and one of the four reviewers for the Japanese Weekly Famitsu termed it "a cut above".

Reviewers were divided in their opinion on the effectiveness of the multiple styles of gameplay presented. Seth Schiesel of The New York Times said that while "there are plenty of games that surpass it in each area," that Nier pulled all of the styles together into a "coherent, compelling whole" instead of feeling "disjointed"; he especially praised a section of the game that is presented entirely through text. Patrick Kolan of IGN Australia, however, said that while the different styles were "interesting" and one of the game's biggest strengths, they suffered from poor execution and cohesion and left the game "with split-personality disorder". Clements said that "the developers' ideas sometimes outshine the actual implementation", while highlighting the gameplay elements as part of what made the game fun. Adriaan den Ouden called out the variety as the best part of the game, likening it to a buffet table, while also acknowledging that none of the sections were "amazing" on their own and could easily be looked upon poorly.

The regular combat was reviewed as solid, if not exceptional, and the sidequests were seen as repetitive, with Quillen saying that "the side quests in Nier are about as numerous as they are totally mindless," VanOrd calling them "a series of monotonous events, often connected only by long stretches of nothing," and a Famitsu reviewer saying that they "didn't see much purpose" to them. Clements said that the combat had "a fair amount of satisfaction", though players should "not expect anything too extraordinary", and Kolan termed the combat as "moderately deep". Critics gave a generally positive review to the plot and characters; VanOrd liked most of the characters but thought Nier was bland and the story "soggy", while Schiesel called the story "provocative" and "profound", saying that it "succeeds at fostering an emotional investment in its characters and in its world". Quillen said that the plot "takes some fascinating and truly original turns" and that Nier has "a supporting cast of genuinely interesting folks," and Schilling said that the story made the game "difficult to dislike". The Famitsu reviewer that viewed the game the most favorably said that he was "blown away" by the multiple endings, and that "nothing like it's been done in gaming".


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