‘NieR Replicant Ver.1.22474487139’ review: Almost a holy gaming experience

After more than a decade, we get the Japan-only NieR Replicant Ver.1.22474487139…, completely overhauled, but missing that Platinum magic

If your knowledge of the NieR series is limited to just NieR Automata or less, you would not be missing much. This cult RPG from the biggest Japanese Roleplaying Game (JRPG) publisher Square Enix, was an obscure title until the runaway success of Automata.

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NieR Replicant was only launched in Japan on April 22, 2010, and what made it overseas was NieR Gestalt — basically the same game but with an older protagonist saving his daughter, instead of a young protagonist saving his sister. Now we finally get to play NieR Replicant Ver.1.22474487139… the way its enigmatic director Yoko Taro intended.

NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139

  • Developer: Toylogic Inc.
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Price: ₹3,499 on PS4, Xbox One, and Rs. 2,999 on PC.

A mysterious disease has engulfed all of humanity. Spinning off as an alternate timeline from the Drakengard series, the game drops you a thousand years later and the Black Scrawl disease is still rampant and monsters known as Shades have manifested on the ravaged Earth. You play as NieR, a boy who has gained powers through a Grimoire with one mission, to find a cure for his sister Yonah, who suffers from the Black Scrawl.

‘Almost a holy experience’

As a big fan of NieR Automata, playing through Replicant’s story is almost a holy experience. Being a prequel there are so many little threads that connect; the fact that your quest is to save a loved one is so much more amplified and heart-wrenching. In true JRPG fashion you are joined by a party of colourful characters, including a lingerie-donning intersex warrior and an aristocratic boy who wields powerful magic.

Screenshot of video game ‘NieR Replicant Ver.1.22474487139…’  | Photo Credit: Toylogic Inc

NieR Replicant is a fantastic story, however it does take time to wind up. Chances are you will drop off early in the game out of frustration as a lot of the mechanics take time to catch on. A lot of this is familiar in Automata, but vastly improved upon. While the characters are well designed, the NieR games sort of veer into a bit of risqué territory. If you can overlook those scantily-clad Anime tropes, and the slow start, Replicant pays off well. As you journey across this strange world with little stories hidden off everywhere for you to find.

The camera sweeps in and out, moving from third person in the world, to a traditional side-scrolling view and a top-down isometric perspective. The entire experience is fluid and if you have played Automata, you will feel at home here. The fighting happens in real time, making it an action game. Yet the game breaks off into a shooter with the enemies attacks makes it feel like a bullet storm game.

Screenshot of video game ‘NieR Replicant Ver.1.22474487139…’  | Photo Credit: Toylogic Inc

Replicant’s fighting system is real-time with some interesting magical attacks. In comparison to its sequel, it feels a bit basic. Automata was made by the masters of the fighting game genre Platinum games, the people behind Bayonetta, the original Devil May Cry, Metal Gear Rising and more. Yet, there is satisfaction in taking down the screen filling monsters, and levelling up your party thankfully in part to the game-play overhaul that has bridged the gap between Replicant and Automata.

NieR Automata is one of the best action JRPGs of the last decade, and if you have not played it yet, then it would be worth starting with Replicant. You will need to be very patient for the initial slog, though. Square Enix, bring out that Automata sequel already!

The writer is a tech and gaming enthusiast who hopes to one day finish his sci-fi novel

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