Nier is an action role-playing video game developed by Cavia and published by Square Enix. It was released in April 2010 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. In Japan, the game was released as two titles: Nier Gestalt (ニーア ゲシュタルト, Nīa Geshutaruto) for Xbox 360, and Nier Replicant (ニーア レプリカント, Nīa Repurikanto) for PlayStation 3. The sole difference is that Nier Replicant adapted the player character's appearance and relationship with the character of Yonah for the Japanese audience, where Nier is her older brother. By contrast, the Nier from Nier Gestalt is an older, more masculine character, who is Yonah's father, and it is this version that was released on both platforms outside of Japan.
The game follows the main character, Nier, as he attempts to find a cure for an illness, known as the Black Scrawl Virus, that Yonah has succumbed to. Partnering with a talking book known as Grimoire Weiss, he journeys with two other characters, Kainé and Emil, as he attempts to find a remedy and understand the nature of the creatures, Shades, that stalk the world. The game was released to mixed reception, with a Metacritic average of 68 and 67 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 respectively; praise was given to the story, characters and soundtrack but criticism was reserved for the graphics and gameplay mechanics.
Gameplay[edit | edit source]
Players take control of Nier who uses his sword to perform combo attacks on his enemies; he is also able to use a grimoire to shoot projectiles at enemies for a short period of time. As the player advances through the game, more powers as well as a variety of different weapons will be at the disposal of the player. 
Plot[edit | edit source]
The game opens with a prologue in a modern but dilapidated-looking city, where a silver-haired man, Nier, fends off attacks from monsters in and around a building where he is sheltering with his sick daughter, Yonah. Having defeated the shades and watched his daughter grow sicker, the game then cuts to 1,312 years later, where Nier and his daughter are now living in a thriving village built upon the ruins of an old town and library; the human population has dwindled, and civilization has reverted to a much simpler form, congregating in villages and working together to protect themselves from the monsters, known to the people as "Shades". Fearing that his daughter's illness is terminal, Nier sets out to look for a cure.
Upon searching a tower nearby, Nier stumbles upon a talking book, calling itself the Grimoire Weiss, and suggesting that the two team up to defeat the army of Shades that appears. This partnership allows Nier to use magic, and the two begin their quest to search the lands to collect all the Sealed Verses that Nier hopes will allow Weiss to heal his daughter. In their search they encounter the hot-tempered, foul-mouthed Kainé, who is herself part-Shade, and a young boy Emil, whose eyes petrify anyone that gazes upon them. Their quest sees many hardships, culminating in Kainé becoming petrified in order to seal in a deadly Shade, while Yonah is carried away by the master Shade, known as the Shadowlord, who carries his own book, Grimoire Noir.
Five years later, Emil believes he has discovered the key to removing his curse as well as unpetrifying Kainé, and he and Nier journey to a lab below Emil's mansion, where Emil remembers his past: he and his sister where the subjects of experiments into weapons research being conducted under the mansion as part of the "Gestalt Project". His sister, "Number 6", was utilised to create the "ultimate weapon", while he, "Number 7", was kept in reserve. This weapon - his sister - was transformed into a large, disfigured Skeleton-like creature, and having returned to life is ultimately defeated by Nier, but not before Emil has to seal away her power. This has the unfortunate side-effect of transforming a devastated Emil into his sister's skeleton-like body that floats above the ground, though he is now able to see and gains new magic, including the ability to remove petrification. After unpetrifying Kainé, the three set out to find the parts to a key that they believe will help them locate the Shadowlord and the Grimoire Noir.
With the pieces in place, the team return to the tower where Weiss was originally found, in order to defeat the Shadowlord; Emil sacrifices himself so that Nier and Kainé can continue. Here, it is revealed to them that all of the remaining humans on the planet are not truly human, but are Replicants from the Gestalt Project. Faced with its own destruction over 1,300 years ago by a virus, mankind created the Gestalt Project in an attempt to overcome the virus by transferring their minds and souls into duplicate shells - Replicants - created from their genes and free of disease, via an intermediary "Gestalt" form that held their souls. The project was initially successful, with humans transformed into Gestalt form and corresponding Replicants made in anticipation of their transferral, but the Replicants began to exert their own consciousness, gradually becoming human entities of their own without the original owner's souls transferred into them, while the Gestalt transformation process began showing signs of errors when Gestalt forms began to "relapse", losing sentience and attacking Replicants. The Shades that Nier and the people have been fighting are actually the many Gestalt forms of the original humans, their aggressiveness due to relapse, an overwhelming desire to return to real bodies, and as revenge for the killing of the many Shades by these humans.
Nier, Kainé and Weiss defeat the Shadowlord and his Grimoire Noir, and discover that the Shadowlord is the Shade for the original "Nier" as seen in the game's prologue, who was the first test subject for the Gestalt Project that was able to maintain sentience as a Gestalt, and driven by an identical desire to protect his daughter. Having taken Yonah from Nier, he has given the original human Yonah - who originally became a Gestalt accidentally, and soon relapsed - her Replicant body, but this Yonah realises that she cannot keep it, as she hears the Replicant Yonah calling for her father. She vacates the body, and Nier and Yonah are reunited.
Subsequent playthroughs reveal additional information and indicate that the Shadowlord, as the first sentient Gestalt, was connected to all other Shades, and that Nier's slaying of the Shadowlord will cause the decline of all Gestalt forms (Shades) in the near future. As Replicants are unable to reproduce and must draw their energy from their Gestalt forms, it is also suggested that the Replicant population will begin its decline as well, and thus Nier has inadvertently set into motion the end of humanity.
Characters[edit | edit source]
- Nier (ニーア Nīa )
The main character of the game, he is an older man described as being an "unyielding protagonist" who is trying to find a cure for the Black Scrawl virus which has infected his daughter Yonah (sister in Nier Replicant), by any means. He is younger and slimmer in Nier Replicant. Though named Nier officially, the player may choose to name the character at the start of the game, the text of which will appear in various text entries.
- Kainé (Kaine (カイネ Kaine ) in the Japanese version)
A scantily clad NPC swordswoman accompanying Nier who has drawn media attention for having a foul mouth. Though originally rumored to be a character exclusive to the Japan-only Nier Replicant, the third trailer for Nier showcases an audio-only monologue of Kainé berating Nier's book companion, Weiss. Since she was a little girl she has been possessed by a shade, by the name of Tyrann, who she plans to kill someday. The rest of Kaine's backstory and further character development is greatly expanded on in New Game + playthroughs of the B, C and D ending paths.
- Grimoire Weiss (白の書 Shiro no Sho )
A hovering, magical tome, Grimoire Weiss serves as Nier's access to magical spells (known as Words in the Nier lexicon), new melee attacks and weapon upgrades. Though Nier rescues Weiss at the game's outset, his motives are suspect, a Square-Enix representative commenting that "Defining Grimoire Weiss as good or evil is a difficult question, and one that the player will only truly understand after playing through Nier." There is another book with similar properties as Weiss, called Grimoire Noir in possession of the Shadowlord, the game's main antagonist.
- Emil (エミール Emīru )
A boy cursed with the power to petrify everything and anything he sees. Eventually he petrifies Kainé and years later he requests for Nier to help him find a cure for reversing the effects in a laboratory in his mansion. While in the laboratory, Emil remembers that he was experimented upon in the search to create an "ultimate weapon". His sister, labelled Number 6, became the ultimate weapon while he was known as Number 7 and kept in reserve. Their mission below the mansion is successful and Emil gains the power to use other magic spells and reverse the effects of petrification, but pays the price: he transforms into his sister's "weaponised" body, a skeleton-like creature that hovers above the ground, wearing a robe and wielding an enchanted staff.
Development[edit | edit source]
Nier was first teased in the Official PlayStation 3 Magazine and Official Xbox 360 Magazine, before being officially unveiled in June 2009 at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2009 for both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. On September 9, 2009 Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu said that Nier would be known in Japan as Nier Gestalt and be released exclusively for the Xbox 360.
On September 15, 2009, Famitsu unveiled an alternate version of the game, Nier Replicant, which would be a PlayStation 3 exclusive version of the game aesthetically different from Nier Gestalt. Nier Replicant was made for and released only in Japan because Square Enix believed the younger character design of the protagonist would appeal more to the Japanese audience, while they believe the original character design would appeal more to Western audiences.
Nier was originally intended to be exclusive to the Xbox 360.
Soundtrack[edit | edit source]
The soundtrack to Nier was composed by a collaboration of the studio MoNACA (directed by Keiichi Okabe) and Takafumi Nishimura. The vocals were provided by Freesscape vocalist, Emi Evans. The vocals are sung in a number of artificial languages created by Evans to sound like futuristic versions of Gaelic, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French, English and Japanese.
Reception[edit | edit source]
|GameRankings||70.37% (PS3) 65.39% (360)|
|Metacritic||68/100 (PS3) 67/100 (360)|
|GameSpot||5.0 out of 10|
|IGN||7.3 of 10|
Nier received mixed reviews. Kevin VanOrd of GameSpot gave Nier a 5 out of 10 for both platforms, stating, "This dreary action role-playing game has its worthwhile moments, but they're separated by countless hours of fetch-quest tedium." VanOrd went on to say that the final few hours of Nier were "compelling" but that the majority of Nier is "boring". VanOrd also said of the game's soundtrack that it could "get a bit overbearing, but its tumultuous choral refrains and lilting arias have infinitely more character than the flavorless visuals." He concluded that "Unfortunately, great music and a couple of entertaining hours aren't reason enough to slog through this leaden dirge. You get the impression that 10 hours of promising content was mercilessly stretched into a 30-hour marathon of fetch quests and squandered potential."
Patrick Kolan of IGN gave Nier a 7.3/10, saying that it was "...a game with split-personality disorder, aiming to please everyone with elements drawn from a raft of sources, but in the process it never excels in any one area." Kolan also praised Nier's soundtrack as "excellent", stating "The score [...] is actually one of the more memorable and interesting in recent memory."
Wesley Yin-Poole of videogamer.com explained that "...the wonderfully designed characters and intriguing plot do just enough to elevate NIER above much of what is coming out of Japan these days. It is, in many ways, the kind of game critics of the Japanese RPG have been calling for: different, fresh, and in parts distinctly un-JRPG. Not all of it works, but it's a commendable effort, and a memorable experience.” Yin-Poole gave Nier a score of 8/10.
Steven Hopper of GameZone gave the game a 6/10. His final verdict was "Nier is a missed opportunity. There are moments when the storytelling shines, but those are few and far between in a pretty drab quest-laden game with boring missions and fetch quests."
Seth Schiesel of the New York Times praised the game. "Incredibly, Nier even forces the player to read. Some of the game’s most powerful moments are presented simply as white text on a black screen. In the context of a medium in which almost everything is displayed visually, these prose segments in the form of memories and dreams ignite the imagination and lend the overall experience a rare depth. No game I have played since 1999’s Planescape: Torment has made such effective use of textual storytelling.
In its overall range of styles, the franchise Nier most closely resembles is Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series. The difference is that Nier is aimed at adults. The one area where Nier blatantly falls short is in its graphics — they simply look dated — but great games are rarely about graphics. They are mostly about contextualizing and speaking to various aspects of human existence, even violence, in the service of an entertaining, interactive artistic experience."
References[edit | edit source]
- NIER for Xbox 360 Release Summary. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2010-05-04
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- Nier Gestalt Only Version Coming West
- E3 2009: Nier First Look
- IGN: GC 2009: Square Enix Confirms Line-Up for GamesCom 2009
- Nier Replicant is sort of different from Nier Gestalt
- Nier Replicant Revealed
- Nier Shows Square Enix’s Foul Mouthed Side
- Kaine Teaser HD
- Exclusive: Going deeper into the world of NIER
- Deep into NieR: Interview With Vocalist and Lyricist Emi Evans
- VanOrd, Kevin (3 May 2010). Nier. GameSpot. Retrieved on 9 May 2010
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