To Nier or Not?
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Nier is a game where I learned my lesson; don't judge a game by its cover or trailers.
I was excited to play this action RPG, but the longer I did play it my excitement dwindled to a slow dread. Here was a game published by Square Enix that no one was talking about. I found this very strange. None on my classmates that are gamers even heard of it.
Square is still known for the latest Final Fantasy title (which is a fantastic game) and after some of the first reviews rolled in for Nier, I can see why the marketing push was more a nudge. The game is developed by Cavia, also known for Bullet Witch. I can now see why this game is so off the mark from the previous Square released titles.
In fact, this was one of the more controversial titles ever released by Square, not because of the content itself, but because of the wacky way the reviews for this game have gone. First you had a slew of very negative reviews, some calling it one of the worst RPGs ever made. Then the Square marketing team countered (again, not very loudly because of not wanting to really upset the Final Fantasy applecart) that those early reviewers were not role-players. If they were, according to Square, they would have appreciated the game and played it more to find out its secrets.
And then, presto, a second round of reviews came in that were much better than the original ones. I don't think anyone is calling it the game of the year or anything, but those second round reviews were at least lukewarm in their praise.
Finally, you have a brilliant push by Square attaching Nier to Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Not directly mind you, but when another awesome trailer for that game came out, the marketing team just happened to mention that they have an epic RPG (Nier) out now if you didn't want to wait to play the new Deus Ex.
So that's how Nier ended up in my hands. The editors at GiN wanted to know what the real story about the game was. Is it great or does it suck? And with me being a true RPGer, the final word on that was left to me. I've spent a very long time with the game, and think I can let you know the real story.
The game opens with a foul mouth audio playing. I'm not one offended by foul language. I found it funny and it got me pumped up to play the game. I just couldn't boot up the game while little kids were at my home. You play as a father, whose daughter (Yonah) falls terribly ill with a fatal disease. You are on the hunt to cure her and make sure she lives. The main storyline is confusing and had me saying "Huh?" several times. Apparently the gaps get filled in each time you play through the game. Luckily, it does not make you play through it in its entirety, but will advance you to certain points and have you play through those sections.
The environments in game are just plain bad and made me think that there were two teams working on the game (one with a much higher skill level than the other).
The open world, which was done by the skilled team, turns linear and basic once you walk into a house or building, except in a few structures. I suspect the dull interiors were done by the less skilled team.
You will get to see these landscapes frequently because the game is full of "go fetch" quests. Having you walk back and forth over the same landscape makes some areas lose the special feel about them, even though initially they were pretty good.
There are weapons to collect and upgrade and you will need to do so.
My biggest problem with the game was that the difficulty level reminded me of a ticked off DM (dungeon master) never allowing you to win a battle. I did not see much of a difference between the easiest and hardest setting. The hardest setting just seems outright impossible while the easiest one seems like you might have a chance, but you would be better off buying lottery tickets.
A lot has been made of the farming and fishing in this game. Yes you will do those as well. Just make sure you are in the right area to fish for the one you need to help your daughter. The farming gave me flashbacks of other more social farming games. I would much rather farm in real life and just buy, find or steal my food in a video game tough.
In the end, try as I might, I was really unable to enjoy Nier. The difficulty settings are too rigid and the switch between spectacular environments and something akin to a school project when you enter a house is off-putting as well. I won't slam the game like some others have done. There is really nothing "wrong" with it. It just wasn't really that fun for me, though some players with certain mindsets might enjoy grinding away the hours with it.
This was a miss for Square Enix to be sure, and not a game that I will keep in my collection. I highly suggest renting this title if you would like to check it out. I can't predict if you will like it or not. I can only tell you that as a longtime RPGer, it really didn't speak to me. But it's worth your time to give it a try, so long as your expectations aren't that high.
Kelly is a female gamer who plays a variety of games from RPG, FPS, Puzzle, and Rhythm. She enjoys Xbox 360 games and games on the PC. You can contact her at : KellyAdams@gameindustry.com.