Nier: Automata isn’t a game I would have played. Not only was it launched alongside very high profile games such as Horizon Zero Dawn, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Persona 5 – to name a few – it is also a relatively new action RPG title that’s a followup to a little known game released back in 2010.
But in retrospect, I’m extremely glad I made time for Automata. Not only is it one of the best action RPGs out in the market right now, it was also one of the few rare games that was such a surreal experience to play. In fact, Nier: Automata isn’t like any RPG I’ve ever played – it really is a unique game.
What Is It?
Automata is the sequel to Nier, and it was co-developed by Square Enix and Platinum Games. Yeap, Automata has some big names behind it, and Platinum Games’ signature combat feel – which is very satisfying – is definitely present in this game. Also, I’ve never played Nier, but the game was designed in such a way that you don’t really have to play the original game to fully enjoy Automata.
In essence, Nier: Automata has elements of a typical action RPG title. You level up, you can buy and find weapons scattered across the game, and you get to explore a relatively open world. Of course, there are also side quests alongside the main ones.
But what makes Automata unique lies in its gameplay mechanic. In one instance, it plays like your typical action RPG game from a third-person perspective, but then the camera shifts and you’re now playing a 2D side-scroller. This isn’t the only thing unique about Automata either: this game has 26 different endings.
That’s right, 26 different endings for each letter in the alphabet. However, only five of them are the core endings; the other 21 endings are more like Easter eggs for players to discover.
Is It Any Good?
If you’re looking for a game loaded with content, Nier: Automata has plenty of them.
As I’ve mentioned, Automata has five core endings, and it took me about 14 hours just to reach the first ending. Only after spending more than 30 hours with the game I managed to complete all five – very engrossing – endings. Even then, I still have more weapons to unlock, side quests to complete, and 21 other endings to discover.
Content aside, Automata also has very gorgeous graphics. The game aims to run at 60 frames per second, and most of the time, it does manage to push these many frames. However, in more graphically-intensive scenes, the framerate does drop well below 60, which slightly mars the experience. But as a whole, the game is still very enjoyable to play.
Another noteworthy aspect of Automata is its voice acting, which is very well done. If a game offers both Japanese and English audio – which Automata does – I usually go for the former. With this game, however, I actually prefer the English voice acting. Dialogues are delivered very well, which in turn add even more depth to the story.
Soundtrack is also one of Automata’s many strengths. They fit almost every scene of the game perfectly – especially in one of the most epic ending sequences I’ve ever played through – and the music really sets the ambiance for the game’s various locations.
The Bad Stuff. Tell Me.
We reviewed Automata on the regular, standard PlayStation 4. While the game would look better on the PlayStation 4 Pro, the game still looks gorgeous on the standard PS4. However, the same cannot be said of the PC version.
Despite being released for over two months now, the PC version of Automata is still riddled with issues. These range from the game running on odd resolutions, weird performance dips, and worst of all, random crashes. For a game of its caliber, these issues shouldn’t really be present at all.
Platform-specific problems aside, Automata can also feel rather…restrictive at times. Despite taking place in an open world, it doesn’t feel quite as vast or “open” as other modern open world games. The occasional invisible walls are annoying when encountered, and the game only allows players to save at specific points in the world. In fact, I actually lost some progress when I accidentally triggered one of the 21 “joke endings” in the game – not fun.
Should I Buy It?
If you like a story-driven action RPG with very satisfying combat, Nier: Automata is absolutely worth your time. It is not perfect by any means, but Automata is a truly unique experience that not many games offer – it also has plenty of content on top of the game’s very enjoyable storyline.
However, until the PC version is patched, you may want to play Nier: Automata on the PlayStation 4 instead.