NieR: Automata is the kind of game that lets you destroy your own character: there is a command dedicated to causing the explosion of
Android 2Bto harm enemies at the expense of their own health. After all, it is an artificial being, and technology allows us to create one copy after another so that we never run out of avatar with which to fulfill the mission. On the surface, it’s an ingenious way to justify something that video games do not need to justify. We are used to the death of a
protagonist is something that only has relevance screen for outside, a punishment to the player who must go back to repeat something he has done wrong,
but in the virtual universe is translated as a simple rewrite without a cost real for the character. In NieR: Automata, however, each version of 2B destroyed is one that has gone away forever, giving way to a replica in which the memories stored in the nearest saving machine are downloaded.
Yes, this replica can go to the place where the corpse of its previous version lies to pick up certain improvements, a bit Dark Souls style, but a part
never recovers. Unless for some reason there is time to raise awareness to the cloud of data before destruction (rare privilege in a “trade” like 2B), the
thoughts and feelings of that last lapse are measured in minutes or hours , they fade with the life of the body. Despite its artificial nature, both 2B and its newly released 9S partner , like the other
androids that fight in the service of humanity , suffer from this paradox: the possibility of unloading their minds in different bodies makes them
theoretically immortal, but at the expense of coexist with the idea that your now, the present moment, is no more than a transition between two existences with the same degree of individuality as the current one.
Yoko Taro and the tragedy of the hero
The implications of replication are far from being an original concept in science fiction, quite the contrary, but they raise NieR: Automata for its interactivity
(the player also uses these androids as disposable tools in their pursuit of a greater goal) and by the presence of Yoko Taro at the helm of the project. Director of the first NieR , as well as a couple of installments of the
Drakengard saga , this Japanese author has been characterized since PS2 times both by putting a special emphasis on the history of his games and doing it by playing darker subjects than usual, that do not fear in bothering the player if with this
They achieve a greater impact. Automata may at times be an orgy of flying swords, explosions and pirouettes that reveal the underwear of our protagonist,
but that is not at odds with the presence of a solid narrative , which pulls us throughout the game chaining small enigmas and revelations that generate the need to know more.
The prologue set in a factory of robots, rivals of the androids in their mission to reclaim the Earth back to humans, is a great example of how under the exceptional skills of the characters lies the mental fragility that would arise naturally in someone condemned
to repeat this process over and over again. Although the games of Taro put us in the skin of warriors that defeat thousands of enemies, a common factor is that there is always a price to pay even if for the player it works as
simple entertainment. The fact that this time we also have non-human heroes makes the comment work at another level, since it is easier to
assume that the events would not have to make a dent in them, but Taro uses that predisposition to later take us in another direction. Unfortunately, here we can not dig deeper (everything discussed so
far is discovered in the first game session, so do not worry about possible destripes), but suffice to say that immediately creates the feeling that
something fails or is not as it should be, although it is not easy to specify what. From there, the player will have to unravel the skein to the credits and beyond.
Platinum Games and the open world dilemma
Surely any fan of Taro or the first NieR is curious to know how he has taken the issue of multiple endings this time, something that would deserve his own article not to be sensitive matter in story questions. But before jumping so far it is better to talk about the game itself, which keeps us close to the control even when there are no sequences in sight. As we discussed in the preview of a few days ago, two constants in Taro’s career have been the magnetism of his scripts and the inability to offer an equally attractive experience on the playable level. The entrance of Platinum Games on stage, although it serves as a sad reminder of the closure of Cavia (developer of the original NieR), has also provided the opportunity toraise the bar and erect a playable environment at the height of the storythat Taro wants to tell. Not in vain, as creators of some of the best action games of recent years, their expertise has been more than demonstrated when they have had enough time and resources. And here seems to be the case seeing what they bring us in Automata.
That said, NieR also means entering a new territory for them. If any of those present had to say what characteristics have turned several of their games into modern classics, probably one of the first would be the developments that take us from level to level with a rhythm measured to the millimeter. A big doubt about this sequel was to discover to what extent the open world with large expanses, dungeons, puzzles, towns and NPCs willing to take on worldly tasks would survive the transition from Cavia to Platinum. The answer is a high percentage, although the zelda-dyed mazmorrero component is the main one sacrificed, since it is decided to lighten the progress to create a constant balance between exploration and combat. It is a decision that can upset those who enjoy the puzzles (usually simple, though sometimes ingenious) of the first NieR, but it works here because it allows Platinum to maintain an energy according to what we expect from them. The game intertwines different genres and types of design, although it seldom binds us more time than we want to release the ballast that so often open worlds carry.