If Nier: Automata was about discovering your humanity in a world devoid of life, Nier Replicant is about a world desperately fighting to preserve what humanity it has left, and often failing to do so. Those you fight for, fight with, and fight against–and you, the protagonist–all have a stake and responsibility in the plight. There’s an ever-present melancholy that hangs over the violent world of Nier, and the more you fight on, the more you understand just how tragic human life can be. It’s tempting to wallow in sorrow, but once you’ve seen Nier Replicant’s conclusions in their entirety, you’ll come to cherish its moments of warmth as well.
For better or worse, Nier Replicant preserves much of the original experience from its 2010 release (based on the Japanese version with the brother protagonist as opposed to the Western release’s father lead). The story, characters, scenarios, and structure remain intact, and this remaster includes some significant gameplay and visual improvements in addition to an essential piece of new story content that expands the original narrative. This is an action-RPG with slick combat, reminiscent of Automata, but suffers from the antiquated design philosophies it adheres to. However, Nier Replicant is here to make you feel something, and it does so in a fashion very few games can pull off.
Series creator Yoko Taro has a penchant for toying with player expectations, saying just enough to lead you on before hitting you with wild revelations that leave you sinking in your seat. It was Nier’s strongest suit back in the day, and still is with this remaster. The game starts off in a modern-day Tokyo that’s been destroyed and invaded by ethereal creatures called Shades, then thrusts you over 1,000 years into a future medieval civilization that’s barely scraping by. Both the protagonist and his sister Yonah are almost exactly as they were in that mysterious intro, seemingly unchanged by the passage of time. So right from the jump, questions start to fill your head, and the desire for answers grows increasingly urgent as you press on.