Game Review: Nier Replicant v1.22474487139… [Mild Spoilers]

Nier, otherwise known as Nier Replicant and Nier Gestalt depending on where you live, was originally a PS3 game that acted as an indirect sequel to Drakengard. It completely evaded my radar back then, but when this remake (or ‘version upgrade’ if you listen to original creative director Yoko Taro) was released I knew I had to play it.

Although I didn’t play the original Nier, I did play Nier: Automata and absolutely loved it. Automata was, again, an indirect sequel but to Nier, so getting the opportunity to play it was pretty exciting.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Genre Bending

For the most part, Nier plays as a typical real-time RPG. Enemies appear in the field and you hit combos and magic to kill them. The combat’s fast-paced and you can quickly feel like a badass as cut up mobs of monsters while casting a variety of spells and scooting round the battle at near breakneck speed. Blocking at just the right time staggers your foe leaving you with the opportunity for unique counter attacks. It’s fun and typical of this type of game.

Then it suddenly becomes a bullet hell that has you jumping and dodging to try and evade endless waves of player-sized reddish-purple orbs. Magic will dispel some of them, others you have to hit with your weapon to destroy. It creates the perfect sense of chaotic tension, especially in areas where you can easily be knocked off platforms and the like.

Other times, exploration changes from free-form, 3D, over-the-shoulder camera controls to fixed perspective 2.5D platforming, keeping navigation fresh and interesting.

Perhaps my favourite genre switch was in an underground ‘dungeon’ that switched to an isometric view with massive waves of enemies much bigger than you see anywhere else in the game. It was only in my second playthrough (more on that later) that I realised it was intended as a clone of games like Diablo. That really cheered me up!

None of the gameplay switches feel out of place, and their sparse nature makes them feel special.

A Story of Two Halves

The game starts (after a short prelude) with you playing a young lad looking after his chronically ill sister who is searching for a cure for her peculiar disease. In a typical JRPG move, the siblings are orphans, and the boy you play as earns money doing various jobs for the people in his village.

As such – and perhaps expectedly – the story starts off pretty slow. The game has you doing such things as hunting sheep for a woman whose children won’t eat anything but mutton, or searching for an egg hidden by wily chickens!

Another early quest sees you searching for a man who’s fallen out with his wife over some apples – the two characters are pretty hilarious and they pop up multiple times throughout the story.

This early section acts a gentle introduction to the game’s mechanics and narrowly-scoped open world, along with all the other characters, and is quite a relaxing time.

The end of this first half ramps up pretty quickly, and after the most intense boss battle, there’s a five-year timeskip.

Now older, the main character can now use spears and heavy swords alongside the one-handed swords you use in the first half. Each play *very* differently and provide further variety – the stronger weapons are delivered right as enemies become somewhat more difficuly by now having armour that requires guard breaks to damage.

The second half of the story sees you trying to find a way to stop the main antagonist introduced in the final minutes of the first half, and actually plays really quickly. This fast pace doesn’t feel rushed, and is even mentioned by one of the chracters; something along the lines of, “This was much less bothersome than I expected.”

The ending is a roughly two hour boss rush, throughout which many plot twists are revealed that completely change your perception of the game. It does a good job of flipping expectations and provides the link to Drakengard.

On Repeat, and Repeat, and Repeat and…

After the first playthrough and ending, there are a further four endings to see. I never completed all 26(!) endings for Automata, so promised myself that I would complete all the endings of Replicant.

Subsequent playthroughs (thankfully) start a small ways into the second half of the game and you keep all levels, items, weapons, etc. Some games offer a new cutscene or a good/bad alternative, but Nier Replicant’s additional endings and playthroughs offer much more.

The second playthrough allows you to understand the noises made by the enemies – especially the bosses – which expands on the major twist provided in the ending. Along with this are new or updated cutscenes throughout that add depth and character to the seemingly mindless enemies you destroy – stirring up sympathy, and dare I say it; a level of guilt.

The third playthrough expands on the secondary characters and adds more depth to them and their stories. It ends with an expanded reveal of what happens to the big bad and then offers a new choice. One choice completes the game and lets you play again, the other completes the game then deletes all of your save data. Some clever save-file management lets you see the third and fourth endings without too much repeat play.

The fourth playthrough and fifth ending sees you start the game from the very beginning (because of the save file deletion, the only way to get this ending) with some further new cutscenes and dialogue that wouldn’t make sense without all the knowledge you gained in previous playthroughs. Everything seems normal until the consequences of choosing the second option come into play and completely change the game.

I regret going straight to the end of this playthrough, instead of exploring some more of this altered world, but I didn’t expect the first mission giver, less than five minutes into the switch-up, to give me the endgame.

This ending is gloroiusly weird and inline with some of the madness I was expecting after playing Automata. It links in quite nicely to the ‘sequel’ – but I think that was expected given it didn’t exist in the original PS3 version of Nier, and was added specifically for the remake.

Other Bits of Awesomeness

The score is absolutely fantastic! I loved the score from Automata so had high hopes, but Replicant’s is actually much better in my opinion. The score was mildly rearranged for the remake, but not so much that the original isn’t nicely familiar. I’d recommend anyone to give it a listen on Spotify.

The other major protaganists are both really interesting and become more so with each playthrough, but the other NPCs are also well-written – from the always-arguing, apple-loving couple, to the grumpy villagers who never leave their homes and shout at you to leave. One stand-out moment for me was a massively embarrassed postman reluctantly asking how to help with ‘that time of the month’ after misconstruing a pool of blood on the floor.

I really enjoyed the enemy design – ‘normal’ enemies are varied in physical design and attacks and attack patterns, and the stronger, armoured variants are different enough that they’re still interesting.
But I think it’s the bosses that really shine – from a massive robot that grows wings, to a massive creature made up of floating cubes, or the magic-proof wolf, they all felt really unique and special.

But, alas, nothing is perfect!

The small scope of the open world isn’t a detriment, and helps to focus the story and gameplay. But I wish that it felt more alive outside of the various villages and dungeons. There’s the occasional wild animal you can kill for resources and birds can be seen flying overhead, but apart from these and the enemies, the world felt pretty empty and lifeless. In some ways, this might make sense, but it feels out of place in a landscape of game worlds that can feel truly alive.

The character’s faces look almost like porcelain dolls, and lip syncing is pretty poor. As I understand it, the ‘version upgrade’ was more about upgrading gameplay elements and bringing the same aesthetic to modern resolutions etc, but it looks out of place in a game that otherwise looks ‘modern enough’.

It only provides 3 save slots, which feels antiquated, and given the amount of save file juggling that’s needed between playthroughs, it was pretty awkward to confidently manage saves.

It forces quite a grind in order to see the final ending. You need to collect every weapon in the game – some of which are easily missed, especially in the first half of the game – and some weapons require some really tedious side-quests to attain, or grinding general side-quests to ensure you have enough money to buy everything. While I can understand it’s meant as a reward, having this block on the final part of the story seems somewhat unfair.


I would absolutely recommend this game. The gameplay hooked me on the first playthrough and wanting to fully explore the story kept me interested in the subsequent runs through the game. The music is a pleasure to listen to and fits perfectly with the environments and scenarios the tracks play in. The characters are interesting and engaging, and the voice acting is well done.

Final score: 9/10

Game Review: Superliminal (Spoiler-Free)

Back in October 2019, when things were just bad, not outright terrible, I got sent a request to review a game called Superliminal, by Pillow Castle. As usual, I don’t take up such requests because I don’t want to become beholden to the publisher in anyway and so I politely declined (by ignoring completely). I had seen some trailer footage, and certainly there was a suspicious “hype” campaign, and in all honesty I just dismissed it as yet another “indie” game trying to make a splash. Quickly, it left my radar and I forgot about it.

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Anything worth doing is worth doing… Poorly

When I was a sophomore in High School, my English teacher introduced himself to the class for the first time. First, matters of protocol. How he preferred to be addressed; the level of mutual respect he expected from his students. All in all.. Boring and basic stuff you expect from any moderately skilled teacher. Then he said something that would have a lasting impact on my life.

He said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.”, he continued by asking us if we understood what he meant. I remember thinking to myself “You messed up the saying, it’s ‘Anything worth doing is worth doing right’!”. But I, like many of my classmates, stared stupefied. “How often do you do something perfectly right, the very first try?”, he asked the class, “Not many, I’d be willing to bet.”, and he went on talking about the importance of failure and the fears that typically accompany it. He spoke at length about how he’d rather see us try and see us fail than to see us not try at all. I wish I could tell you that I knew in that moment the true meaning of the words. But his phrase stuck with me “Poorly”. The reversal of the saying made it stand out in my head and I’ve remembered it ever since. More important, as I matured it was something that helped me get over the apprehension of trying new things. Failing, learning, improving, and mastering. Well, maybe not that mastering part. The point is, nobody starts out being the best at… anything.

I don’t really have an overarching point in this post except that maybe someone else will benefit from being told that it’s okay to try… and fail.

That’s It.

Unpopular Opinion #2: Open World Games Suck

The premise of living an alternate life in a different universe is enthralling. It’s what as gamers, we all desire. Those of us of a certain age used our imaginations (self constructed images and thoughts in your head) to try and make the best of what was available to us, in the hope that some day, just maybe, we will be able to actually inhabit the game. Oh it was exciting! As the years passed, we saw glimpses into the future, and it was happening! Finally, our dreams were coming true! Then, it happened, open world games arrived…

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Unpopular Opinion #1: Teach Raw Pointers First

Being the administrator of a large programming Discord server, and the owner of a YouTube channel with a large audience of programming beginners, it is with some frequency that questions about the basics of programming are asked. In fact, it’s often the same questions. This is perfectly fine, after all, the ethos of One Lone Coder can be encapsulated in the phrase:

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How to attribute/credit/cite the olc::PixelGameEngine

Hello! Firstly a big thank you, the fact that you are reading this means you actually care about doing the right thing, and want to acknowledge the software you have used from other developers.

The olc::PixelGameEngine is open source and is released under the OLC-3 licence. This means you can use it freely, even for commercial projects. However, the licence requires that appropriate attribution is required.

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