NieR: Automata (PS4) Review
I have to feel sorry for NieR: Automata.
Not because of gameplay or story, but because of its release window. It got paired up against a new Zelda title, a new console release and Horizon Zero Dawn, another PS4 exclusive. The cards were stacked against it.
That’s disappointing, too, because Automata is a great action game from Platinum Games and Square Enix. It has an intriguing story, a wonderfully created combat system and plenty of endings to earn to keep uncovering more and more about the true nature of the game and its environment.
Automata has humans already being forced into space after machines took over the world. Now, the android group YoRHA fights the machines to try and let humans eventually make their way back to earth.
Players control 2B, who switches between two melee weapons (two sets can be switched back and forth with the D-Pad), while also being able to pelt enemies with bullets from an attacking drone as well. While you run through, you get teamed up with 9S, who supports you in battle and provides some nice background to the world as you progress.
While the world is great to explore and take on the dozens of sidequests and main missions thrown at you, what helps this game really stand out is the amazing combat system. 2B seems to perform a dance only she hears the music to as you dodge attacks and string together impressive combos of weapon attacks, bullets and the occasional drone super attack. It’s always worth seeing the newest weapon you get, just to see what new moves can be performed.
Outside of combat, some RPG elements come into play not only by what weapons you have equipped, but what chips you have installed. Chips on your characters have a variety of effects, from providing healing if your health drops below a certain point, to boosting attacks, to auto attacking or defending to even providing displays on your HUD. Plus, a chip also controls your life in the game. Just make sure to never uninstall the OS chip. Additionally, the drone can have new programs installed to allow different super attacks to be used.
The interesting thing Platinum Games does so well as you progress through is change up how the fighting and environment is seen. As you explore vacant cities, fairgrounds, jungles and more, you’ll switch from a third person view to a top-down view to a 2D left-to-right style to even a side scrolling shoot ‘em up. It’s a lot of great changes that always feel fluid.
Another point to mention are the use of corpses in the game. As you run around, you find the corpses of other online players from where they were slain. You can resurrect these droids to help fight for you for a while, or you can harvest them to get some items, experience and health. The choice is always yours.
As a quick aside while talking about corpses, make sure to try and revisit the original area of the game. You’ll find a nice surprise I wasn’t expecting that can come in handy early on.
As in NieR, there are plenty of different endings to find. Some are joke endings, some are just failure screens (such as failing the first mission) and others are proper endings that give more background to the world and changes the way the game players during the next playthrough.