Nier: Automata Become as Gods Edition - XB1 Review

2017's underground hit, Nier: Automata, has finally made its way to Xbox One so gamers on any platform can now enjoy the excellent, if odd at times, unique gameplay that can be found within. Packaged with the core game is the small expansion 3C3C1D119440927 as well as a Machine Mask Accessory and a handful of Pod skins.

Buttery smooth, full of weird and often uncomfortable moments, Nier: Automata is a bizarre amalgam of genres, from twin-stick shooter to bullet-hell to platformer to hack-and-slash style action-RPG and the mixture is potent. Nier: Automata - BECOME AS GODS edition's deep customization of skills and functions, a large open world, and a thickly oppressive yet wildly intriguing story are distinctly unique yet utterly familiar to players new to the Drakengard and Nier franchises. Nier: Automata - BECOME AS GODS edition, released in June 2018 for Xbox One, is a wonderful example of video game design done right.

And the soundtrack is easily better than any OST I have heard in the past decade; well done Keiichi Okabe (Nier: Automata's composer). Well done indeed.

With complete honesty, I did not like Nier: Automata for the first few hours of the game. It did not dig its wildly attractive android fingers into my soul until after the initial desert area/first true boss outside of the opening. Even with its extremely awesome way of switching game styles on-the-fly, I struggled with becoming invested in the characters (and I can easily debate that I am still not invested in them) or finding any real depth in the story.

Slogging on was recommended though, and so I did and while I cannot say that I am attached to 2B in an emotional sense, I CAN say that it is the world-building that I am most emotionally invested in. The clever use of set-pieces tied to what is easily the best music I have heard since Mass Effect 3 was released (and it is not hard to argue that the music itself for Nier: Automata is better than Mass Effect 3, because it is, but Nier: Automata does not have the emotional impact that ME3 had … largely because I am an absolute fan-boy of the first three Mass Effect games) is really what began to take hold of me. Though the colors are decidedly varying shades of brown and a lot of dust, the eerie anime-meets-Dark Souls music (serious Ghost in the Shell vibes here, tied with plenty of epic moments in the Soulsbourne franchises) ties it together in a hauntingly beautiful and often tragic package.

Nier: Automata is not just about overly attractive androids, post-apocalyptic Earth, and absolutely perfect music, oh no. It is all about the gameplay and with the varying styles that are seamlessly woven throughout each area/level, there is plenty here to be enthralled by. Navigating the rusted, broken down ruins of the various locations can go from a rear-camera action title to side-scrolling beat-em-up to a top-down twin-stick shooter in a heartbeat and the most awe-inspiring thing about these transitions? They feel completely natural. The shift in gameplay genre is not all that can keep you engrossed though, as there are a bazillion different customizable options for you that allow you to create the perfect 2B for your playstyle.

Though there are traditional "level ups" in N:A, the real customization comes in the form of plug-and-play chips. As you are an android you can upgrade your system no different than you can today with a computer; to maintain some restriction on upgrades though, there are a limited number of slots that you get (that expands as you level up/purchase slot expansions) so you may find a particularly useful upgrade near the start of the game, it could take 11 expansion slots which is about all you have to start; instead you may find other, "smaller" packs that can provide better, more useful passive skills. I for one bypassed the initial Attack Up chip that I found that used 11 slots and instead added a few more useful options like an auto-heal when critical and a shockwave chip (which adds stun to your attacks).

In retrospect, looking at the upgrade method in N:A I was distinctly reminded of the flexibility (and potentially devastating outcome) of the Materia system in Final Fantasy VII. Combine the modularity of the chip system to the upgradability and fantastically varied range of weapons and you can tailor 2B to be the perfect alien/machine destroyer. With weapon setups similar to those found in the Soulsbourne games, two loadouts with a left and right weapon, you can switch between the weapon setups that you need to get you through the 26 endings found throughout Nier: Automata (yup, 26 of them, one for each letter of the alphabet). I myself am actually partial to unarmed+spear and short sword+short sword.

Minus the ever-encroaching desert, which I abhor because desert environments in video games are horrifically boring, each environment and model in Nier: Automata - BECOME AS GODS edition is painstakingly created to entrench you in the post-apocalyptic Earth where Automata takes place. Visiting the ruined husks of long-lost civilization as you work to free the broken remnant of our Blue Planet, Nier will take you through countless dungeons as you face off against enemies and aliens both tiny and absolutely massive. As you wade through the ashes of yester-year, 2B and crew will slowly grow on you as you continue to meld her into your perfect weapon.

With interesting mechanics such as "beating" the game for dying at certain times or doing silly things like removing your operating system, or the extremely odd way that some of the enemy machines pantomime the more mundane (or not so mundane) actions of humanity, Nier: Automata is oft-times confusing but the deftness with which the various elements found throughout, miraculously pulls the game together and is anchored by the best music in the business. What results is easily the most under-appreciated game of these last two years.

Game Information

Microsoft Xbox One
PlatinumGames Inc.
Square Enix
Single Player
Other Platform(s):
Sony PlayStation 4

Provided by Publisher

Article by Robert


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