Nier Replicant is the Rogue One of many Nier sequence

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When Rogue One: A Star Wars Story got here out in 2016, most of us already knew the way it was going to finish: miserably. Within the remaining scene, the protagonists brace for loss of life – simply after sending crucial Demise Star schematics to their fellow rebels – setting the stage for 1977’s A New Hope. All we knew up till Rogue One was {that a} group of rebels sacrified themselves for the way forward for the galaxy. This bittersweet ending provides a deadly catharsis to a doomed story that predates the unique Star Wars trilogy: that is how they did it, that is how they struggled, and this is the reason residing via the top mattered.


And now, after what looks like an eon of pandemic anxiousness, loss of life, battle, and financial despair, now we have the much-anticipated re-release of Nier Replicant. Sorry – Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139.

[This article has loads of spoilers for Nier Automata, and some of them are really big. This is your warning.]

I didn’t play Drakengard, or the unique launch of Replicant – to me they’re legends of the time earlier than Nier: Automata, which I cherished. However figuring out how Automata begins and ends has given me a weirdly agency sense of conviction about its predecessor. The place Automata was the scalpel, utilizing the travails of androids 2B and 9S (and, later, A2) to fastidiously and methodically peel again layers of branching narrative to disclose painful existential viscera, Replicant feels very very similar to an impending sledgehammer.


It’s, in fact, reductive to name Replicant the Rogue Certainly one of something. Nier worldbuilding and storytelling is in a league of its personal. Half-JRPG, part-mindfuck, all-unpredictable, it transcends fundamental Disney-approved story beats. I wouldn’t be the primary to level out that it’s doable to glimpse wild Nier spoilers on-line and nonetheless have zero clue how they really play out within the recreation. A lot of the strain in Automata is expertly constructed round not figuring out how issues are going to unfold throughout the context of a standard story arc.



Replicant, arguably one of many most-anticipated video games of this yr, is one which we already know the ending to. Recursion is likely one of the most sure issues we are able to anticipate in life, subsequent to loss of life and taxes, and the core theme of Automata itself. However Automata grabs your head and forces you to observe each ending – together with the deaths of A2, 9S, and 2B – as a matter of narrative holism and posterity earlier than you’ll be able to select to have all of your painstakingly-earned recreation information wiped in a frantic bullet-hell credit score sequence. Its fixed shifting between digicam views and fight types rejects the concept of consolation and familiarity; as a participant, you’re compelled to each adapt to it, and to just accept the truth that you’re not in management (and nothing actually hammers this house greater than the sequence’ fictional chaos language, which evokes acquainted fragments of our trendy languages, however is totally unparseable).


It’s actually arduous for me, and I believe others who dwell an excessive amount of on these kinds of issues, to separate the experiences of 2020 from Automata’s themes: the seemingly insatiable wishes that drive violence, our blind human insistence on sustaining divisions, and the way we inevitably find yourself taking part in out the identical ache and despair time and time once more.

“It isn’t the kind of recreation most individuals load up for a senseless distraction. Each sq. inch of Automata is steeped within the language of existential despair.”


As a result of 2020 wasn’t nearly coronavirus – it was additionally (yet one more) yr stuffed with police brutality, high-profile circumstances of racism and transphobia, class injustice, and more and more terrifying local weather doom. In lots of works of dystopian speculative fiction, these are all examples of Dangerous Issues that inevitably snowball into large world-ending cataclysms. And whereas Automata doesn’t delve into the precise particulars of what sort of violence and vitriol led to its personal post-apocalytic establishment, it doesn’t actually need to. For all its stylishness and glib humor, the sport pulls no punches in its dissection of humanity’s worst instincts; its remaining message, to paraphrase David Lynch, is that we have to repair our hearts or die (maybe, in the event you selected to wipe your recreation information, it’s that we have to repair our hearts and die).


Given the way in which Automata ends, I don’t assume I’ll ever play it once more. I’m undecided if I like-hate myself sufficient to undergo the total set of endings a second time. This isn’t the kind of recreation most individuals load up when they need a senseless distraction. Each sq. inch of Automata is steeped within the language of existential despair. The prospect of spending all these hours to basically create the identical information and observe the identical story beats is each wildly masochistic and an ideal instance of how the sport has completely managed to weaponise repetition. At any time when somebody considers doing it, I’m certain in my soul that Yoko Taro smiles a bit of bit, wherever he’s on the planet.


A close-up of Kaine from the Nier Replicant remake


So the place does this depart the oldsters who didn’t play Replicant? It’s the primary look of a few of Automata’s beloved characters, notably Emil – technically a minor character in Automata, however an extremely necessary one – and the android sisters Devola and Popola, who’re caught in a hard and fast position cycle after cycle, recreation after recreation. Replicant can be set in a time of an odd illness, the Black Scrawl, that doesn’t appear to have a remedy – maybe a contact too near house for all of us nonetheless residing throughout a pandemic now. And Replicant is an opportunity to discover the nascent nationalism within the gameworld, the place persons are suspicious and fearful of an infection, of harmful Shades, and of one another. Herein lies the small, neurotic seed that finally results in the elite army group YoRHa, a way of militant righteousness that pits two factions towards one another. Sound acquainted?


Even after all of the vitality and emotion I poured into following 2B and 9S to the bitter finish, I really feel surprisingly invigorated on the prospect seeing the way it all started. If Automata is outdated trauma, maybe Replicant is the remedy we have to totally settle for the previous. There’s an excellent sense of freedom in residing via the top, particularly if the top means annihilating all the pieces to make method for one thing new. Will we really ever get the braveness to do this? In all probability not in my lifetime. However can we edge a bit of bit nearer to a unique future?



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