I never really got into the original NieR Replicant (or rather, Gestalt) when it came out years ago for the Xbox 360. It’s a bit weird but I don’t recall much about that game…it really didn’t make an impression on me. I just know that I have vague memories of me not liking it because it felt clunky and incomplete.
Now, years later…here I am.
Much older, more experienced and going back to play a version of NieR that’s never been released in English. Wait what?
I’ll explain everything…just keep reading.
What is NieR Replicant Ver 1.22474487139?
NieR Replicant is an action JRPG for the Playstation 4/ 5. Developed by Toylogic and published by Square Enix, NieR Replicant is one of two NieR games released during the Xbox 360/ Playstation 3 era. It’s a single player game with zero online connectivity, so no worries on multiplayer or loot boxes or IAP. I’m reviewing the game on a PS5.
NieR Replicant is a remaster of the original, which was released only for the Playstation 3 in Japan.
The other version of NieR (Gestalt) was released on the Xbox 360 in Japanese and English. The main difference being them was mainly related to the main character; Replicant had the hero be the brother of Yonah, while Gestalt had the hero be her father. Minor deviation in plot aside, both games were pretty much identical in gameplay and mechanics.
So while it’s technically true that NieR Replicant never made it to the West, those who played Nier Gestalt have pretty much played the game already, albeit with a different skin.
There’s a barebones plot to NieR Replicant, but I guarantee you that you’ll find it pretty basic and boring. As the brother to Yonah, you’re doing everything you can to make sure she doesn’t die from a mysterious disease. As the plot progresses, you gain access to Grimoire Weiss, one of two legendary books.
With Grimoire Weiss, there’s now a very slim possibility that Yonah can be cured, so off you go on a fool’s errand trying to do just that. In your travels, you’ll encounter mostly personality-less people though thankfully those that join your crew are pretty likeable, especially Kaine, her weird choice of clothing and her potty mouth.
With the plot virtually similar to NieR Gestalt, returning players won’t find much surprises in the story. Square Enix’s gone and added in new content to the game though they’re largely in form of extras that reference both the original NieR Gestalt (including the ability to play as Gestalt’s protagonist) and NieR Automata (such as music tracks from the game and costumes).
There are some extra dungeons and reintegrated DLC but nothing that really impacts the main story.
Here, take a look at what’s new via a spiffy trailer.
As a remaster of a Playstation 3 game, NieR Replicant isn’t exactly going to set the world on fire.
Many of the issues I had with the original are still plaguing the remaster; long loading times (even on a PS5!), shallow combat and a desolate open world.
You might be able to make a somewhat convincing case arguing why the world’s so empty, but that still translate into empty and boring to explore from a gameplay perspective. Random, emergent events in the hub areas would’ve added variety and spiced things up.
However, the advent of new hardware means that some of the game’s earlier technical limitations are now nixed. The frame rate is much more improved over the Xbox 360 version, as is the draw distance. The textures are obviously improved too, though there are still instances where they could be much, much better.
I never got into NieR Automata, so I’m not looking at the game through fanboy eyes. To be honest, I found the game rather boring. There’s too much running around doing pointless (and luckily, optional) side quests that do nothing to flesh out the world.
I’d have loved sidequests that actually made an impact…instead of ones where I had to gather 10 sets of mutton to feed a family, or buy a random woman groceries from another town just because she can’t be bothered to do it herself.
There’s an air of jankiness to the whole game, which is weird as the game’s been given a whole new coat of paint. The RPG elements in the game are still underwhelming as before; when you level up, you’re never informed what you get in return.
Do you get stronger? Are you more resistant to blows? Nobody knows because the game doesn’t say a damn thing.
It doesn’t even make it a point to highlight your HP and MP growth. Due to that, I never really felt that I got stronger, despite upgrading my weapons and buying new ones. I just felt I could absorb more damage, so spongier instead of stronger.
The UI can really use a rework too. Right now it feels really basic and amateurish, like an indie title. Navigating the shortcut menus is a really barebones experience, though the main in-game menu is thankfully better designed. However, information is still tucked away within layers and layers of menus. There’s too much clicking around to get to something (especially tutorials), something I feel can be simply fixed with some streamlining.
Combat is fine but also with issues. It’s great that it’s fast, fluid and pretty visceral…but it’s also underwhelmingly basic with a limited number of moves (not including the magic Grimoire Weiss can do) to use against enemies. To have a good idea of what it’s like, imagine NieR Automata’s combat, but with 90% of the movelist gone.
If you ask me what the best part of NieR Replicant is, I’ll give you an answer with zero hesitation.
It’s the music.
Who good is it? Let’s put it this way.
Keichi Okabe is now one of my favourite video game composers, right up there with the likes of Akira Yamanoka, Michiko Naruke, Nobuo Uematsu and Michiru Yamane.
His score for the game is hauntingly beautiful, with tons of choral singing in the background for a ton of the tunes. I’m a sucker for those kind of music, so it’s no surprise I love the score. It really fits the desolate settings of the game, drawing you in better than anything else in the game!
The Bottom Line.
NieR Replicant is a good game but it takes a special kind of player to really appreciate it. You’d either have to love NieR Automata, never played NieR Gestalt or both.
If you’re somebody who doesn’t fall into either camp, NieR Replicant feels like a game from the murky recesses of past, with old school game design that doesn’t really stand the test of time.
There are some notable improvements from the original, but those additions and the new content doesn’t really make the base game any more (or less) fun that it originally was, as the original game’s issues weren’t really addressed. The incredible music just makes me sadder than the game isn’t as good as it could be.
At the end of the day, NieR Replicant still suffers from the fate that it (and NieR Gestalt) did in the past; it’s not really a good or interesting game despite the newly added stuff.
There’s fun to be had, but it’s buried under layers of dated game design. The music is incredible though!
- Stable framerate.
- New content is fun.
- Kaine is awesome.
- Incredible music.
- Shallow combat.
- Main plot is forgettable.
- Sidequests are boring and uninspired.
- Empty open world.
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