NieR Replicant ver. 1.22474487139… is a strange game, and not just because of the name. It’s part remaster, part remake, and is kind of a completely new release, at least outside of Japan. It’s a vastly enhanced version of the cult classic which spawned the immensely popular Nier: Automata, which didn’t get a fair shake upon its original release.
While it’s undoubtedly because of Nier: Automata’s success that this remaster was bankrolled, Nier Replicant ver. 1.22 doesn’t rest in that game’s shadows. Instead, it firmly places itself alongside its sequel as a title worth your attention. Since Nier’s release, gamers have become more open to unique and experimental stories and gameplay which means it might finally get the recognition it deserves.
Which Nier is which?
Much of the confusion surrounding what’s actually changed in Nier Replicant ver. 1.22 is due to the oddity of its original release. Nier originally debuted in Japan in 2010 in two versions, Nier Replicant (PS3) and Nier Gestalt (Xbox 360), the main difference being the protagonist’s age and his relationship to the character Yonah. However, unlike with Pokemon, this wasn’t an intentional scheme to sell more games.
Series creator Yoko Taro originally envisioned the protagonist of Nier (canonically named Nier) to be just a few years older than his sister Yonah. However, Square Enix marketing believed that non-Japanese audiences would react better to an older hero.
In the end, Nier Replicant, featuring a younger Nier with Yonah as his sister, was a Japanese-only release. The rest of the world got Nier Gestalt, with an older Nier and Yonah as his daughter. So, the release of Nier Replicant Ver. 1.22 is the first time players outside of Japan will get to play the game as Yoko Taro originally envisioned it.
Nier and dear
The camera and combat enhancements bring Nier Replicant ver. 1.22’s gameplay up to par with Nier Automata. However, those coming from Automata will find a different type of narrative here. While the sequel was rooted in sci-fi, Nier is very much a fantasy game that has players questing through a post-apocalyptic world where shadowy creatures called Shades threaten to overwhelm the remainder of humanity. Instead of wielding a pod like 2B and 9S, Nier is accompanied by Grimoire Weiss, a floating, talking magical tome.
One of the only gameplay elements I noticed hadn’t been improved is Nier’s snail’s pace when in some interiors. For instance, when visiting the post office in Seafront, Nier won’t go over a light jog. This happens in several key story areas, and you’re stuck dragging along for 20-30 minutes at a time.
Despite the thematic differences, Nier Replicant ver. 1.22 plays much like Nier Automata. Though PlatinumGames didn’t work on this one, the enhanced gameplay still has the same weight and timing. However, combat is a bit deemphasized here. Sure, you’ll fight a lot, but Nier’s primary objective is to save his sister, not exterminate ancient machines. While he may cut his way through robots (and plenty of other creatures), this game is more monomythical–or at least a riff on that formula–than its sequel.
Despite the plot being more linear, players can look forward to multiple endings, though not in the amount that Automata is famous for having. However, it’s when taken with its sequel that Nier’s plot really shines. Nier and Nier: Automata may seem to be two wholly separate works at first, but as the story unravels, you’ll begin to see that their worlds are the same. After playing Nier, you’ll view the events in Automata in a new light.
Keep those quests on the side
Nier Replicant ver. 1.22 gives the game a significant facelift which addresses some of the major issues critics had with the original release. The environments are no longer blurry, foggy, dull areas. The improved draw distance and more detailed textures give each area a unique look that reinforces the game’s fantasy inspiration.
A fresh coat of paint isn’t all that comes with Nier Replicant ver. 1.22, though. There’s a host of quality of life improvements, an added main quest thread, a new ending, and more. It’s the definitive version of the game, and nothing has been cut from what I can tell.
Of course, that does mean that some of the original’s flaws are still apparent. The side quests haven’t been improved, so there’s still a ton of fetch quests and “go here and look at this guy’s dead dog, oh wait, he’s dead now too” twists. Seriously, almost every time someone sends you out to do something, it ends up with you finding a corpse. Even more strange is you’ll bring back the horrible news, and people still pay you 1,000 gold. Luckily, the main story is good enough to make up for the uninspired side quests.
Also, the fishing is still frustrating.
Nier Replicant ver. 1.22 Review: The final verdict
I’m thrilled to see Nier Replicant ver. 1.22 getting a big push from Square Enix. The original game didn’t do that well in the West, and I think it’s because it was ahead of its time. Since then, many gamers have shrugged off the stereotypes and embraced a wider variety of protagonists and game styles. It’s no longer a marketing faux pas (if it ever was) to show Nier’s young form as a hero, and I envision the game getting a much wider audience than it did when it launched in 2010.
Nier Replicant ver. 1.22 is an excellent spin on the traditional hero’s journey and will give Nier Automata fans a new appreciation for that title. It’s a lovingly crafted rerelease and will delight both new and old players alike.