There are few games that make you re-examine the medium of gaming as a whole, but NieR: Automata is certainly one of them. The action role-playing game by Platinum Games and director Yoko Taro became an unexpected hit in 2017, as it sold over 3.5 million copies and received near-universal critical praise for its story and varied gameplay mechanics. Now two years after its original release, publisher Square Enix is putting out the Game of the YoRHa Edition onto store shelves. Packaged with some exclusive content, this re-release goes slightly beyond a simple compilation and is still as great as it was a few years ago.
NieR: Automata‘s gameplay is hard to sum up as it regularly switches between a character action game in the vein of Bayonetta to a top-down shooter and other action variants (check out our original review of the 2017 release to go more in-depth about its mechanics). However, the futuristic android opera winds up pulling it off impressively well as the action is varied and functional rather than disjointed and messy.
It’s quite the technical feat as one second you could be controlling the various android protagonists from behind-the-back and then the camera switches to a top-down perspective and completely changes things. However, it is such a fluid change and all of the key functionality of the gameplay remains intact.
However, beyond its impressive gameplay lies the phenomenal story of NieR: Automata. Told in a way that could never be replicated by a movie or book, Automata takes advantage of the bond that players build with the characters after hours of play and uses that to its advantage throughout its many twists and turns. Beyond its unique structure, Yoko Taro has penned a script that manages to be optimistic despite an impending sense of sadness. It’s truly a special tale and one of the most impressive storytelling seen in the entire medium.
NieR: Automata Game of the YoRHa Edition Review | The 3C3C1D119440927 expansion
The biggest perk of getting the Game of the YoRHa edition is that it comes with the ridiculously named 3C3C1D119440927 DLC, which normally costs $13.99. It mainly consists of three separate battle coliseums that pop up in the world map, each of which features highly difficult fights that can only be completed later into the game. Many of these tests also limit what the player can do offensively, as they’ll disqualify you for using your helpful droids or dodging. Considering that the story and its unique integration was the main draw for Automata, this doesn’t play towards its main strength.
It’s also not great that the three battle arenas require plenty of upgrading and grinding. Some rather bizarre boss battles can be accessed afterwards, and a sad, yet revealing, side story about a dysfunctional robot are locked away. They’re definitely worth seeing, but it’s hard to recommend spending hours to do so instead of just watching a YouTube video.
Finally, the DLC adds in some cool customization options as players can customize the color of their android’s hair. It also comes with a set of costumes that are reminiscent of those seen in 2010’s NieR: RepliCant. When added together with the Game of the YoRHa‘s droids, which are the same ones that came with the day one edition of the game, players have a lot of different costume choices at their disposal and can create some pretty awesome throwbacks to the original game.
NieR: Automata Game of the YoRHa Edition Review | Bonus content isn’t that great
The Game of the YoRHa Edition is mostly a compilation of existing content, but there are a few new additions for those that pick it up like the dynamic theme and set of avatars. The theme itself uses the same exact set of icons that the free Flight Unit Type-B and Flight Unit Type-S themes used, but features portraits of the protagonists as the background. Disappointingly, the theme itself is pretty sterile as there’s no movement or animation other than a slight static that kicks in every 10 seconds or so.
The 15 avatars are much nicer as they feature pretty much every named character in the game from Adam and Eve to even some of the more prominent bots like Pascal. This is a great addition and some lovely fan service, and even those goodies don’t quite make a second purchase worth it for most people.
Perhaps the biggest bummer about the entire package is that it feels like a missed opportunity. Considering how beloved the game is by both its developers and fans, it would have been great to have seen it bundled together with some interviews or extra features. After all, Yoko Taro never gives a dull answer to any question and Hideki Kamiya has credited Automata with saving Platinum Games as a studio. There’s no shortage of interesting talking points surrounding the title, so a little bit of work would have made this re-release be much more special than selling a content bundle under a new name.
While it’s a bit disappointing that the bulk of the package is just a compilation of already released content, it’s still easy to recommend NieR: Autoamta Game of the YoRHa Edition to anyone that hasn’t already played the best game of 2017. Automata is still an incredible title that takes the medium of gaming to new highs by focusing on the relationship that players have with the media that they consume. The DLC is a bit underwhelming if viewed by itself, but slots in nicely to the rest of the game and serves its purpose as post-game content. It’s certainly underwhelming that such an experimental and genre defying game got such a by-the-numbers compilation but it’s hard to fault its original design and incredible storytelling.
GameRevolution reviewed NieR: Automata Game of the YoRHa Edition PS4 with a copy provided by the developer.