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Why Nier matters

I don’t think anyone at Square Enix saw Nier Automata as a multi-million-selling, genre-defying hit. The action-RPG sort of stumbled into the spotlight in 2017, tasked with amassing attention in the months following the Nintendo Switch’s incredible debut with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. A tough act to follow, no doubt, but one that Automata somehow managed, going on to land multiple game of the year accolades, draw millions upon millions of fans to a previously-unknown franchise, and selling upwards of five million copies over four years later.

Examining why Nier matters is a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle backwards. There’s so many different ways you can deconstruct it: is it the elegant gameplay that’s stuck with millions of players around the world, or is it Keiichi Okabe’s grandiose score, crashing down with waves of emotion on the player? Alternatively, are Automata’s zany and inspired storytelling methods the reason it’s so highly revered, or is it perhaps the unpredictable creative director himself, Yoko Taro, that’s responsible for pushing the game to legendary heights?

The answer could simply be all of the above. There’s something so effortlessly unique about Nier Automata everywhere you look, starting from the moment you descend out of the atmosphere as 2B in a personal gunship to battle hordes of robots in the sky, to crash-landing and fighting a towering mechanical monolith with gigantic buzzsaws, all in the opening minutes. The debut sections are greatly representative of how the smooth and fluid gameplay is married to imaginative foes for brilliant battles, but it’s the story that unfolds later on that really got its hooks into players to form a community.

Read more

I don’t think anyone at Square Enix saw Nier Automata as a multi-million-selling, genre-defying hit. The action-RPG sort of stumbled into the spotlight in 2017, tasked with amassing attention in the months following the Nintendo Switch’s incredible debut with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. A tough act to follow, no doubt, but one that Automata somehow managed, going on to land multiple game of the year accolades, draw millions upon millions of fans to a previously-unknown franchise, and selling upwards of five million copies over four years later.

Examining why Nier matters is a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle backwards. There’s so many different ways you can deconstruct it: is it the elegant gameplay that’s stuck with millions of players around the world, or is it Keiichi Okabe’s grandiose score, crashing down with waves of emotion on the player? Alternatively, are Automata’s zany and inspired storytelling methods the reason it’s so highly revered, or is it perhaps the unpredictable creative director himself, Yoko Taro, that’s responsible for pushing the game to legendary heights?

The answer could simply be all of the above. There’s something so effortlessly unique about Nier Automata everywhere you look, starting from the moment you descend out of the atmosphere as 2B in a personal gunship to battle hordes of robots in the sky, to crash-landing and fighting a towering mechanical monolith with gigantic buzzsaws, all in the opening minutes. The debut sections are greatly representative of how the smooth and fluid gameplay is married to imaginative foes for brilliant battles, but it’s the story that unfolds later on that really got its hooks into players to form a community.

Read more

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