A remake is a game that’s based on an older title but is remade from the ground up with better graphics and quality-of-life changes. Some of them come with major changes like last year’s Final Fantasy 7 Remake, while others have overhauled visuals but with the exact same gameplay as the original such as Bluepoint’s Demon’s Souls. On the other hand, a remaster is typically just a re-release of an older game, but with improved textures, resolution, and performance. Then there’s Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139…, a re-release of the first Nier that eludes classification.
Going Above and Beyond a Remaster
As I’ve noted in my preview of the game, it would be unfair to call Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… a standard remaster. Sure, it may seem like one at first glance, but once you play it, you’ll find that it is a much-enhanced experience. While it follows the original Nier, it comes with a lot of additions and changes, the biggest of which is in combat.
The first Nier game had okay combat at best, even when it was launched in 2010 (at least based on its reviews). For this re-release though, the developers over at Square Enix and Toylogic (with help from Platinum Games staff) overhauled the combat to make it play more like Nier: Automata. In that regard, the team was successful as Replicant feels smooth and satisfying to play. Unlike the original which can seem a bit clunky, chaining combos and blocking/dodging while attacking with different types of magic here in Replicant provides a lot of thrills, especially against the game’s various bosses. While combat and enemy encounters may be a bit simpler compared to Automata, Replicant should still satisfy players looking for a nice hack-and-slash action game.
While there are numerous combat encounters, not every one of them play the same. As with Automata, Nier Replicant features numerous perspective shifts, and even gameplay switch-ups. Your typical encounter may start off with the typical third-person action camera, but it can sometimes shift to a 2D section with a bit of platforming’ there are even levels that shift to an isometric perspective. And of course, there are segments that play more like bullet hell mini games, though they’re not as extensive as the ones in Automata. Thanks to often-evolving enemy encounters, gameplay won’t get old during you first run of the game.
To go along with this revamped combat, Nier Replicant also has improved visuals and performance; there are even cutscenes that were fully remade, as well as changes to the look of the characters’ faces (which fans of the original may or may not appreciate). While I wouldn’t call the game a graphics showcase, the developers have done a great job in enhancing the game’s textures to make it look more like a PS4 game than a PS3/X360 era title. As for performance, the game runs at 60FPS, a welcome framerate for an action-oriented title. It’s not perfect though as I did notice that the game slows down when firing off lots of magic; I’m not sure if this is a performance issue or if it was an actual creative choice for combat.
Aside from combat and visual enhancements, another big change from the original (English) version is the younger main character.
If you’ve played the original game in English, you’re probably familiar with “Papa Nier,” the gruff father who served as the main protagonist in the game’s English release. In Japan though, this version of the game was called Nier Gestalt and was released exclusively on the Xbox 360. Meanwhile, PS3 players in Japan had Nier Replicant, a version of the game that features a younger protagonist–this version serves as the bases for Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139…
While fans of Papa Nier might be disappointed with this change, I found that “Brother Nier” fits much better within the game’s world and story, both in terms of his relationship with the other characters and his overall look. Plus, Brother Nier can be considered as the canon version of the character. Though don’t worry, Papa Nier fans will be happy to know that there’s a special treat for them in the game, even if they won’t be able to play through the story as him.
That’s not the only treat for fans of the original though; this Nier Replicant release also comes with added content, including additional characters that appear in a new segment in the main story.
I won’t spoil exactly what these additions to the game are, but I can confidently say that they don’t feel tacked on to the game just to add extra fluff. In fact, as someone who hasn’t played the original, I didn’t even realize the added parts of the game were new; I thought they were already there in the original. Given how well they integrate and how they complement the overall experience, players who have played the first Nier will appreciate the new content. Though this should come as no surprise considering that these story sections were intended to be put in the original.
Taking all these enhancements and additions, Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… definitely delivers more than your typical game remaster. But don’t mistake it for a full remake that modernizes the original as, in several ways, the game does show its age, and not for the better.
Showing Some Age
I mentioned above that Replicant’s gameplay won’t get old during you first run of the game. Why the need to mention the first run? Well, like Automata, Nier Replicant has multiple endings, and players need to replay a certain section of the game to see them all.
In Automata, players must replay the game’s first part to get the second ending out of five, but the experience still feels fresh as players get to experience the story as a different character, complete with different gameplay mechanics and story additions. After this, to get the next three endings, Automata’s story progresses, introducing another scenario as well as a new player character. This makes getting all endings a satisfying experience; in this regard, Automata is a refinement of the multiple ending formula used by director Yoko Taro in the Drakengard games and in Nier. This does mean that Replicant feels rather dated in its implementation of multiple endings, especially if you’ve played Automata first.
To get to the rest of the endings (and to truly finish the game) after Ending A in Replicant, players will have to replay the second part of the game multiple times. While there are new scenes for each subsequent playthrough, the fact that players still play as the same character can get a bit boring. Plus, players retain their level and items for each playthrough. While this makes it much easier to plow through the game’s story dungeons again, the lack of challenge (even when you put it on hard for your next playthroughs) does make it feel like a bit of a slog to get all of the game’s endings.
Speaking of story dungeons, Replicant features a number of them that you must go through to progress the story. Some of these dungeons have interesting puzzles and mechanics, but some are pretty much just hallways with enemies that overstay their welcome. Thankfully, the boss fights at the end are usually fun and satisfying, so dungeons at least end on a high note for the most part.
Another thing that feels rather dated in the game is its side quests. Replicant features 70 side quests, most of which are just basic fetch quests. To be fair, some of the side quests in Replicant have charming or emotional stories and offer up some interesting dialogue, but the others are a bother to finish as they require rare items that necessitate grinding to get a lucky drop from enemies. Take note, these side quests are the only way to get more money in the game, meaning you’ll at least have to finish some of them as you progress. Thankfully, there are enough good side quests (at least in terms of story) that you don’t have to grind through them all.
These flaws in Nier Replicant aren’t new as they are inherited from the original. While it’s understandable that they kept they didn’t deviate much from the first Nier in terms of endings and side quests, it would’ve been nice if there were some added tweaks to make subsequent playthroughs and completing quests feel like less of a grind.
Even with the game’s age showing in certain aspects, Nier Replicant is still compelling to play through thanks in large part to the game’s utterly unique tale.
Captivating Story, Amazing Characters
Having played Nier Automata back in 2017, I came in to Replicant expecting a unique and memorable story with a big dose of melancholy. Even if the game showed its age as I played, the story’s emotional punch and dream-like atmosphere pushed me to progress. At the end of the game, I was floored. Not only was the game’s tale a satisfying story to follow and experience, it also delved into themes such as the nature of humanity that left me thinking about it well after the credits rolled.
I won’t go into the specifics of what made the game’s story as powerful as it is, as doing so might spoil your experience. But what I can say that won’t ruin your playthrough is that aside from the plot, the characters truly elevate Replicant for me.
The game has a varied cast of characters, but the stand outs are no doubt Kaine, Emil, and Grimoire Weiss. Again, I won’t go into detail about what made them so interesting, but their backstories, motivations, and personalities are profoundly moving and memorable; plus, their interactions can often be quite funny. Given how well-realized both characters are, I highly recommend reading through (and not skipping) the Text Adventure-style segments that delve into Kaine and Emil’s past.
Adding icing on the story and character cake is the game’s soundtrack. Composed by Keiichi Okabe and rearranged specifically for this re-release, the Nier Replicant soundtrack is utterly beautiful. Not only do these tracks elevate the emotions of the scenes and levels, but they are also quite memorable, so much so that I’ve been listening to them non-stop since I played the game. If you liked the Nier Automata soundtrack, you’ll also fall in love with Replicant’s music.
NIer Replicant ver.1.22474487139… Final Verdict – 8/10
As a re-release of a decade-old game, Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… does show its age. Thankfully though, Square Enix and Toylogic have brought numerous improvements and additions to make the game look and feel more modern. Plus, the game’s captivating tale and characters make it a moving experience that will no doubt stay in the minds of players well after reaching the game’s true end.
If you have yet to play Auotama, Nier Replicant is a worthy game to try out if you’re looking for a unique title to try out. But for players who love Automata, this re-release of Replicant is required playing as it provides an exceptional experience that can only be gotten from a Yoko Taro-directed game.
Nier Replicant releases on PS4 and Xbox One in Asia on April 22, 2021, with a PC release releasing on April 23. The game’s PS4 and Xbox One versions will be playable via backwards compatibility on the PS5 and Series X|S, respectively.
This game was reviewed on a PS5 playing the PS4 version via a code provided by Square Enix.