NieR: Replicant ver. 1.22474487139… tells the tale of a young man who, joined by a talking book called Grimoire Weiss, sets out on a journey to save his sister Yonah from a mysterious illness. A simple premise that spiralled into a complex, emotional rollercoaster. This will compel you to trudge through each successive playthrough.
This remake-remaster does away with what was arguably NieR’s biggest problem: the lag. Running at a super smooth 60 frames-per-second, the new NieR Replicant is a joy to play. The controls are tight and impressively responsive, allowing for the kind of satisfyingly slick motion that eluded the original NieR.
NieR: Replicant is very much a hack-and-slash game and players who are familiar with Automata will find it fairly similar in the broad strokes. You have a button for blocking and one for evading. Precisely timing a block allows you to parry a strike and get in a bonus. You have a little floating companion you can use to shoot at things as aimed by your camera angle. The main difference is that rather than having two different weapons to perform heavy and light attacks, your main weapon has both heavy strikes and light ones depending on your button choice.
The opening hours of NieR Replicant are slow. You’ll learn the ropes by accepting the most basic of jobs from people who live nearby, which mostly involve sprinting from one side of the village to the other. After a while, the story does start to unfold little by little, but for some players, it’s going to be an exercise in frustration.
You will explore a sandbox stitched together by loading screens and large open spaces. You bounce between NPCs, fight monsters, collect resources, and partake in exhilarating boss fights in your quest to save Yonah. Everything is exciting and unfamiliar in the first playthrough, right up until the end credits.
The game’s story also leaves a valuable impression when all’s said and done. Certain plot points elevate the entire experience. That said, the writing is borderline terrible at times, but NieR’s fusion of humour and anime-style swagger is enough to carry the game’s more questionable moments.
Overall, NieR: Replicant is an ideal remake. The improvements of the remake make that a question of degrees rather than Automata being leaps and bounds ahead.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows