Nier review

  • Fun adult language
  • Unpredictable tone
  • Weird, fun twin-stick shooting
  • Plenty of boring lulls
  • Too many fetch quests
  • Frantic action becomes overwhelming

How rare it is to hear the word ‘shithog’ used in a fantasy world. Nier is a fantasy-action-RPG with the mouth of a sailor. Rolling grasslands and ominous temples put us in Zelda territory (graphically, Nier could be super high-res N64) but the script refuses to stay put. An ancient spell book, for example, is referred to as a “little bitch”. Don’t worry, the spell book says far worse things back. It’s a talking book, of course; one of many reasons Nier is the quirkiest RPG you’ll play this year.

Mechanically, Nier is remarkably well-read, borrowing from everywhere. Action-wise, our hero is of the Kratos (or, if you’re on a tight budget, Dante – of Inferno) variety: swordings, evasive dives and lashings of blood. Into this, developers Cavia mix Bayonetta-style magics, all demon lances and house-sized fists. Our hero can also fire giant red bullets. When you fire your bullets and the enemy fires theirs, Nier looks a little like Ikaruga and shooters of that ilk. Alas, all this proves to be more overwhelming than empowering; a mistake none of the title’s influences would have made.

Elsewhere, there’s a hint of Zelda in the crate-pushing puzzles and dungeon design. And the general structure – a free-roaming field dotted with temples – is a clear nod to Hyrule Field. Add to this a dash of Monster Hunter – hunting livestock and rifling through herb patches nets you the raw materials for upgrades. Too many fetch quests are spun from this, however. While the story bombs along at a good old pace, those hoping to pad the game with sidequests will have to get used to carting berries back and forth.

More interesting is Nier’s eye for direct homage. A versatile camera often subverts action on the fly. Switching to birds-eye view turns Nier’s magic blasting into a twin stick shooter, a kind of medieval Smash TV. When a further zoom shrinks hero Nier to a tiny speck on screen we’re suddenly in Diablo territory. Entering a ghostly black-and-white mansion only to find the camera fixed at awkward angles reeks of Resident Evil. Despite not elevating the action in any way, there’s a real allure in seeing what crazy thing the game does next. In this sense, Nier reminds us of Suda51’s freewheeling No More Heroes; a sort of make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach to the RPG.

Like Suda51, Cavia tread a dangerous line between mad and bad, but misstep too often to forgive. Those innovative highs only make the inevitable drops more painful.

Apr 28, 2010

More Info

Release date: Apr 27 2010 - Xbox 360, PS3 (US)
Apr 23 2010 - Xbox 360, PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Action
Published by: Square Enix
Developed by: Cavia
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence
PEGI Rating:

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  • ALiENZZZ - May 15, 2011 11:56 a.m.

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  • BeastXIII - May 7, 2010 8:40 p.m.

    So far I'm getting kind of a shadow hearts vibe off of Nier and, as far as I'm concerned that's a good thing. Except From the New World. Fuck that game. reCaptcha = persuade this
  • ElGrinchoid - May 2, 2010 1:45 a.m.

    Massively enjoyable game, is Nier. Seems to be being shat on because it's "not the prettiest" out there, but from playing for a few days, it's by far and away the most enjoyable thing that Squenix have put out on the PS3. Simple, easy to control, an excellent powering up system and a cracking layout to the game as well as shifting between 3rd person, 2d top down and 2d side scrolling effortlessly. The quests are pretty small for the most part and you know what, it's one of the things that makes me keep picking up the game. I'd so utterly bored of over the top, grandiose stories that i couldn't care less about (yeah, you FF13 you pile of utter poorness) with no real connection to the characters. Niers utterly different. You're a dad with a sick girl trying to survive in a dying world. Yeah, the main story is pretty big and epic, but the side quests really make me connect with the world that it's set in. I've only suffered one "drop" so far and that a fishing mechanic that should never have been let out of testing. It's not only poor, but the tutorial and book all tell you to do it wrong. Very, very frustrating. Once you've figured it out though it ok and really it's only a minor point. Honestly, i'm finding Nier a breath of fresh air to play and highly enjoyable and to be honest it's about time on the PS3 that we had something like this come out. Demon's souls tried to be this but was so infuriatingly hard it made me want to snap the disc in half after a few hours. Nier is the opposite. I find it an oddly relaxing game to play. I'd honestly give it 9/10 so far.
  • JohnnyMaverik - May 1, 2010 6:08 p.m.

    You know what, I thought this and resonance of fate would both be shit, I was half wrong, this game looks brilliant, seen some scenes and gameplay, exactly what I'm looking for. No I'm not being sarcastic.
  • shinigamiDude - April 30, 2010 6:25 a.m.

    Is futa unlockable for 360 version? I don't want to play as an old man all the time.
  • OnyxOblivion - April 29, 2010 10:58 a.m.

    Jon Etheridge is here?!
  • n00b - April 29, 2010 3:48 a.m.

    you know the chick in the game is a futa
  • Stabby_Joe - April 28, 2010 11:09 p.m.

    @Appsro Hey man, when did you get here?
  • otaku666 - April 28, 2010 8 p.m.

    I think it deserves the score it got but I am intrested all the same.
  • Appsro - April 28, 2010 6:54 p.m.

    If your looking for a spin on the old fantasy setting try Doraleous and Associates. (shameless self promotion, I know) But this seriously looks like something that's right up my alley. It's a shame that some of the mechanics are a bit broken but I'm gonna check this one out when it hits the $40 price range.
  • OnyxOblivion - April 28, 2010 6:28 p.m.

    No hype for this game. Seems to remind me of Darkstalkers, actually. From your review at least.

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