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NieR Replicant's Remaster Offers Insight To NieR Automata

Nier Replicant Start Screen
Courtesy of SQUARE ENIX

NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…

Developer: Toylogic
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: April 23, 2021
Available as: Digital and Physical

How NieR Automata Gave Relevancy To An Older Franchise

It’s funny to think that exactly ten years ago, NieR was a niche title that was nothing more than a spinoff sequel of another niche title, Drakengard, released a few years before on the PS2. What made NieR a “sequel” was that it followed the events of one of Drakengard’s many endings, showing the aftermath of its results a thousand years into the future. 

Ten years later, players can experience Yoko Taro's vision once more with the release of Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139... (That is the full official title of the game and I will not repeat this again as it is too much to type)

While it’s agreed upon that NieR and its sequel, NieR Automata are canon to the Drakengard verse, it’s not a necessary requirement to play and enjoy the games. Other endings from the same game branch off into other titles in the Drakengard series, making that series its own “alternate universe” separate from what would eventually become NieR. If that’s hard to follow, then it’s easy to treat NieR as its own universe instead, with Nier Replicant being a remake of the first game.

Nier Replicant In-Game Combat
NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… - Xbox Series X Direct Capture

Nier Is So Confusing Even Nier Has Its Own History

But, even that knowledge has its own twists as there were two versions of the same game released in Japan. To put it simply, the Xbox 360 version, known as NieR Gestalt, featured an older man as the protagonist. This version would release in the west as simply NieR and it would release on both the PS3 and the 360. 

The PS3 version in Japan, known as NieR Replicant, featured a younger protagonist and it was never released outside of Japan. While both games follow the same plot, there are key differences among the two, almost like how a Pokemon game would feature the same storyline but different branching paths depending on the version played.

This remake makes it the first time that NieR Replicant was released outside of Japan in over a decade, but it also doubles as a re-release of the first NieR title. This ensures that even veterans who are used to the original NieR will play an entirely new experience regardless.

Nier Replicant Protagonist Gameplay
NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… - Xbox Series X Direct Capture

The Most Vocal Protagonist Without A Name

What’s interesting is that the protagonist doesn’t have a canon name, meaning the player must name the character themselves, yet he is fully voiced, only known to the public as “Yonah’s brother.” Yonah is the central character in this game, who is a terminally ill girl whose brother seeks to find a cure for her while also finding out the mystery behind the shades, enemies of darkness that spawn and hunt humans.

Players who are used to NieR Automata’s gameplay will get used to the controls in Replicant as they are near identical. It also shows how consistent Automata was as a game many years after the original Replicant. For many, this will be their first time experiencing the original NieR so to see many characters who would eventually appear in Automata is an interesting insight when equipped with the knowledge the players know from playing the latter. 

Popola Cutscene Gameplay
NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… - Xbox Series X Direct Capture

NieR Replicant Oozes With Fan Service

An early example of this is the sisters, Popola and Devola, in which those who have played Automata will already know the “big twist” involving the twins, yet in this game to see their origins before their reveal offers a different perspective of their personality. That’s what I felt when I played Replicant, a familiar atmosphere and a sense of deja vu even though I’ve never played the original NieR.

The graphics are beautiful, with lush visuals and expressive characters, that it didn’t feel like a previous generation game. It felt like a game that was “enhanced” for the Series X rather than an Xbox One title running on the Series X. It also proves that despite a newer generation of consoles, the past generation can still offer an impressive experience on par with modern hardware.

Gameplay Nier Open Plains
NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… - Xbox Series X Direct Capture

Ultimately, for those who have just begun their NieR journey and for those who have played Automata and never touched NieR, Replicant is a great point of interest for players to enrich their experience within the universe. It serves as a means to understand what happened in the past, while also experiencing a classic title rebuilt from the ground up.

NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139... is now available on the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One

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