9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Nier (PS3) (Video Game)
I put off buying Nier due to the lukewarm reviews, but I tried it when I was betwen other "must-have" games and I really enjoyed it. As far as I am concerned it is a successful and thought-provoking game.
Nier is from Square-Enix, but it's nothing like Final Fantasy or any other games from that tribe. The closest comparison I would make would be "Ico". More on that later. To keep it simple, you play in Nier as one character, who is searching for a cure for his sick daughter. Nier's world is rural, with a peasant-style village, open plains and rivers and lakes. You run around the world in real time, going between lost temples, other settlements, deserts and caves, following clues that might lead you to saving the life of your daughter. Although classed as an RPG, these elements are very much in the background - Nier does level up but you'll never know when he's about to as there are no EXP points in-screen (although you can examine the menu to see them) and no numerical health bar or hit-points seen in attacking. There are various weapons, you can buy or find better ones, and you can learn magic, although all the magic is for attacking, there are no healing or support spells. Fighting is done real time - enemies can clearly be seen on the screen, and the fighting style is pretty easy to master, very simple combos done with one button plus a few linked to jumping, evading and blocking.
So let me address the good and bad points that a lot of reviewers have pointed out - first that this game is ugly to look at. Well, I would not say that. It is not richly detailed, I'll admit, but it has a certain style. Colours are muted, landscapes are pale and hazy, and this was one of the first aspects that really reminded me of "Ico", as architecture is huge and monolithic, open spaces look chilly and lonely, and even the sunlight looks fragile. I found the look of the game very appealing. Nier himself is an ugly brute, mind you, with a really bad haircut, outfit and caveman-style face, but eventually I became fond of him. Other characters are more out-there (namely Kaine and Emil), so there is variety.
I'll also say that the battles in this game are great fun. The common enemies are featureless, wispy and transparent - again very much like in "Ico". The boss fights are great fun, all have a theme and some really cool attacks, although the pink spheres that get fired at you seem to get recycled a bit too heavily - is this the only type of magic in this world? But Nier's fighting style suited me very well, although I chose two types of magic attack pretty early on (you can only assign two at a time), and pretty much ignored all the others.
I will agree with one other criticism though: Nier is full of sidequests that are brain-numbingly boring. Find a flower, find a missing husband, find a lost jewel for villager A, go ask villager B if they have the right materials to build a water-wheel for villager C, who then asks you to take them to villager D to build it...I got really tired of this stuff, and a lot of those villagers were not close to each other, I can tell you! Some quests are also nigh-on impossible due to the rare drop frequency of the required ingredients, and add to that the only reward for them is usually money (which you don't really need) rather than opening new areas to explore, and you have a recipe for frustration. Do them at your own risk, I say.
So lastly, the good points about Nier are the story, which is very serious and quite touching on several occasions, the graphics - which I liked, and the music, which is excellent. It's a bewildering game to play a lot of the time - it has a prologue set in a burned-out city centre that NEVER appears again in the rest of the game (you do eventually find out why), companions who include a floating, talking book, a ninja-style woman in her underwear, and a...well, I don't know how to describe Emil! The ending does have a few great twists, and there are also other endings to discover if you can face playing more. I enjoyed Nier and I think it is well worth a purchase.