Soon, the weight of Yoko Taro will be unleashed upon the world once again, more so following on the heels of a new NieR raid in the hit MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV, whose free trial, if you didn’t know already, goes up to Heavensward. Horrendously overused joke aside, the alleged upgrade to the original NieR Replicant, now known as NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… can be experienced by people all over the world on the PS4, Xbox One and PC via Steam – 22 April for Asia, 23 April in other territories – for a whole new generation of confusion, conspiracy theories and dot connecting.
If you missed our initial impressions of the game, do check it out right here. This review will be waiting for you.
IT DO BE THE LITTLE THINGS…
If you’re the type who needs the type to get used to the controls, feel free to spend some time at the “abandoned store”. This is the prologue area which you can’t revisit, and gives you some nice previews some of the spells you’ll be getting before you get into the game proper, as you won’t be able to access them until you obtain the Grimoire Weiss. See how nice Yoko Taro (?) is to let you play around in a quiet little sandbox before you accidentally wander into something that must have been there specifically to terrorize players (maybe?).
How about wandering off to a quaint little Village? Do the regular JRPG protagonist thing of ransacking the place to see if you can find items, money or materials just left lying around. They even give you the option to turn on auto-battle (!), granted restricted to Easy difficulty. Handy if you wanna grind up a bunch of materials.
The game has no autosave, nor a quick save, so if you’re going to be called to do the chores, you’ll need to run over and find a red mailbox to do the needful. The distribution seems to be on the wack side, where some areas you might only find the one towards the end of an area, while others might be bunched up relatively close each other. Fortunately, the checkpoints are close enough should you die. Imagine the corpse runs to the mail box!
For more things to do, the game’s got you covered with a lot of side quests to get sidetracked by, with the Village marketplace being one of the most populated hubs for it. The Tavern will also be open to you to earn some quick gold, useful for when you want to unlock maps if you opt not to do associated quests. Depending on how you feel about it, you might’ve preferred they change this unlocking system, but that’s how the game rolls.
DOING A RUNNER
As previously explained in the preview, you are not able to wield two weapons at a time. In exchange, you can very easily swap to other weapon types with the D-pad: Left opens your armoury of Two-handed Swords, Down for One-handed Sword options, and Right for your selection of Spears.
It’s kind of an illusion of choice when exploration is not necessarily required by the main story, but for 100% completion or simply for material gathering, it is Highly Advisable to do so. Besides, you can sell off the stuff you don’t need for extra cash. If you’re feeling extra frisky, you can go ahead and explore without a map as you’re allowed to. If you’d rather not get completely lost, then get a map first. There’s a lot of farming you’d want to do, besides the 500 gold fee for a map. Good weapons can go upwards to 10k gold, and that doesn’t even take into consideration other materials or consumables you want. The whole life sim thing isn’t just an April Fool’s joke either: you can plant crops and fish, mostly to line your pockets with even more gold.
Also, be warned about backtracking, and a lot of it, across a wide, wide area, for maybe a single line of dialogue, before you gotta run back. Fast travel unlocks around halfway through the game, so hope you enjoy the scenery and/or not die while you’re making your way back and forth! Fortunately, dying in this game isn’t too punishing as mentioned: you’ll be respawned near a boss arena, for example. Getting murderized by an enemy will let you respawn with full health, so hurray (excluding accidental drowning). The boss fight resets of course, but that’s to be expected. Death does make you lose the stuff you’ve found in the area, but I figure if you’re not sure what you’ve lost, it doesn’t seem like a big deal.
Pumping legs aside, you’ll come across puzzles. Replicant isn’t a puzzle game, though, so these can be really hit or miss. If you like them, good for you, if not, open up that guide or you’ll be there forever. The checkpoint generosity applies here, as it will save at the entrance of the next puzzle and not force you through the ones you’ve already cleared.
NIER A WIZARD
Besides the spells we’ve previewed prior, there’s three more available to the repertoire:
DARK WALL: Create a circle to in front of you to block projectiles. Holding the button will form a larger wall, into a hemisphere that bubbles you. The wall will last until it times out.
DARK EXECUTION: Summons a spear from the ground to impale the enemy in the air. Will initially summon three lines of spears in front of you. Hold it for spears to cover your back, and longer still for spears in all cardinal directions.
DARK WHIRLWIND: Summons a scythe that spins around you. A tap summons one scythe, while holding it summons up to four. Can interrupt smaller enemies, but otherwise does not deal noticeably more damage than your normal attacks.
AN ASIDE ABOUT WEAPONS
We’ve talked about the one-handed swords in the preview, so this will be focusing on the other two types: two-handed swords and spears.
Two-handed weapons boast high damage, with slow attack speed to balance. You can’t change the direction of attack once you’ve committed to a swing, so not the first choice for players who prefer faster movement. It will come in handy when you just really need to slam down an enemy bearing magic shields that block your spells.
Then there are the spears, which would be my favourite type of weapon. The damage can be surprisingly good, with a great combo chain. Its main weakness is that it’s basically a pointy stick and can only stab enemies directly in front of you. It has some AOE capabilities, which are subpar compared to the other two types.
Niers Joes can opt to stick to the sword as the basic weapon type, two-handed swords for a larger number of enemies, and spears are recommended for mostly stationary or slow targets / bosses. You can charge up a two-handed sword’s or spear’s attack for as long as you want, where the one-handed sword will launch immediately into a charged strike. The upside to this is that a two-handed sword’s or spear’s charged attack will string into additional attacks on contact. Or you could, you know, whiff completely. It’s not a punish, but it sure would feel bad.
Called “Words” in this game, it’s the totally not Materia / Augments / whatever equivalent. Defeating enemies will have a chance to drop these Words for you to slap into weapons, spells or martial arts (that’s the dodge and block, basically). Words have a variety of effects, and you’re free to throw on the same Word onto multiple different things at a time. Words are probably one of the weakest parts of the game, as the effects are mostly to make the numbers tick upwards. There are two slots for Words for you to mix and match around, but you’ll probably just stick to the tried and tested damage increase or MP cost reduction options.
For fans starting on Yoko Taro’s wild ride, Replicant ver.1.22474487139… offers a lot of versatility in terms of combat, letting you tinker with your spells and weapons according to the situation. The whole open world exploration might be a tad much, though, when you think about all the back-tracking you have to do. Put it this way, if you’re going to enjoy the music and the scenery, this will not be a negative point for you.
We’ve gone all this way without mentioning the story. Like, seriously, how are you going to even start explaining the story in a review without the diagrams and string tying all the plot together? Settle in for the ride, and maybe the more discerning of you can find The One Frame that Changes The Entire NieR Universe. Godspeed.
NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…
If you're here, you're in for Yoko Taro's wild ride, enhanced edition.
- Fun and versatile combat system
- Intuitive and easy to learn
- Very obvious graphical facelift
- A lot of backtracking
- Some challenges and puzzles are more frustrating than fun
NieR, Far, Wherever You Are