All hail Kainé’s return, or so I would assume from reactions of the larger internet with the arrival of NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…. We’re giving you our first impressions of the game first, since we all know Yoko Taro must have laced the title with god knows what for us to discover down the line. We can’t spoil everything about the game yet, but if you wish to go in completely blind about any changes or additions, then tread with caution.
tl;dr Wow! Gorgeous! Other exclamations! The camera switching is kept in place, as you are taken from your typical third person view, to a 2D platformer, or to a top down angle. Presumably if/when the PS5 version gets released, the graphical upgrade will blow off your socks and what remains of Kainé’s clothing (disclaimer: the latter part will not actually happen). It’s prime real estate for you to get lost in the world, just to admire the view. While impending depression awaits you at the end of the storyline, you can find some solace in the locales you’ll be walking through.
What else is there but apparently to sing the praises of the controls as well? Expect the game to be very responsive, with enough weight behind every hit no matter the enemy: be it the sparks flying when you fight a mechanical boss, or the blood shed from a living creature. You can occasionally stumble due to muscle memory accidental presses for commands, but for the most part, the controller feels natural in the hands. If you’re anything like me, the button mashing should for the most part work, so scream like a maniac as you jab the buttons and pray to god you land the attacks. If it works, it works, you know? Those lil’ buggers don’t know what’s coming when you give them a 1 on 1 beatdown as you can effectively stunlock them.
Alternatively, you can learn how to parry attacks for a satisfying riposte. It’s quite easy to learn, though you also have the option to simply hold down the button to block and null damage if you so wish. Besides your adventures in button mashing, you can change the functionality of the shoulder buttons. They’re typically reserved for your spells and your dodge/block, but the game will let you pack even more spells in place of your defensive abilities for more dakka.
If you’re coming in expecting a combat system exactly like Automata, there are slight differences. For starters, you will be wielding only one weapon, compared to Automata‘s two. With each weapon, you have both a light and heavy moveset – clearly making Replicant ver.1.22474487139… the Dark Souls of the NieR series – that you can swap between seamlessly. As you might expect, heavy attacks will be slower, trading off with a larger area of effect.
With the ability to dodge-cancel attacks, you can raise the skill ceiling for yourself when it comes to avoiding enemy attacks. There’s no perfect dodge – again, unlike Automata – with just a normal one. Dodging in the middle of your combo will force you back, but there will still be the opportunity to follow your dodge with an attack to resume the combo, so have fun wailing on some helpless enemy with your l33t skills. For something similar to Automata, you’d want to be using the Grimoire Weiss to fire at your enemies as you dance around them. Weiss moves independently and can lock on to another target, which is something you will be utilizing when it comes to a variety of other spells.
As of now, doing air combos is more of a miss. You can launch enemies, but the combo always follows up with a downwards slam, so no actual juggling alas. If you’re worried about the movesets, depending on what you prefer, the same weapon class will have the same movesets, so your biggest concern will be its stats and design.
Out of the spell repertoire available, the ones tested so far will be mentioned below. You can either tap the spell for its basic effect, or charge it up for something different. That’s the difference in Elemental Skills for you wait wrong game haha funney.
The basic ranged spell. A single tap will fire off a single shot, while holding it down will make it fully automatic, which you’ll either need to aim manually or lock on to a target. Hold it down long enough for the rune effect, and watch the bullets go!
Tap it for, well, a single spear, and hold it down for MORE spears! The number of spears will increase accordingly to the mana used. Charging up this spell will make you walk and dodge slower.
Your basic AOE spell. The area of effect is not as large as it seems, so while it can vaporize some little guys and you can lob it from a distance at a boss, the Dark Spears might be a better bet.
Absorb magical projectiles and fire it back in the form of a laser beam. The damage and size of the beam scales accordingly to projectiles absorbed. It does eat a lot of mana if you charge it up, so think of it more like an emergency perhaps.
Kage bunshin no jutsu a copy of yourself to deal damage. Charge it up to grant your clone the ability to hit all enemies within an area and decimate them.
… so good! You have versatility in combat with spells you can swap out according to your playstyle, or to complement the weapon you have chosen. With the highly intuitive controls, you can just toss some sorry fellow into the depths of The Lore of NieR starting from this title, and watch them make it through the world.
Once the tangled web of The Plot unravels just that little bit more, we’ll see about a more detailed look…