You know, this isn’t always an easy job. Sure, writing about video games is an absolute treat, but sometimes you get tasked with something difficult. For example, having to write a preview about your site’s most anticipated game after another writer already wrote a preview concerning the game’s demo that already successfully covered everything. It was at that point, though, that I realized that I hadn’t found the time yet to play the demo for NieR: Automata myself. So I finally decided to check things out and fired it up.
Now, I haven’t played the original NieR, so I can’t compare Automata to the original. The impression that I’ve taken away from NieR: Automata and its demo, though, is that it is a game of many hats. Within the demo alone, we have third-person action, 2D action, top-down action, melee combat, shooters, platforming segments, bullet hell segments and Space Harrier-style shooter segments. So with all of those balls being juggled in the air, I had to wonder if the game ever dropped any of them. Yes, that means being the killjoy who has to question if there appears to be anything wrong with the game. Again. Wheee.
Okay, so what segments of the game may have flaws? Well, it isn’t the combat. Melee combat is your standard tried-and-true light attack/heavy attack/dodge setup, and it works quite fine. The shooter segments where you lock on with your little robot buddy and let loose with rapid fire also works perfectly, and both forms of combat deliver a satisfying impact that makes it fun. And it works fine from every viewpoint as well, adjusting itself nicely.
But what about those changes between the third-person, 2D, and top-down views, does it ever feel awkward? Well, not really. It takes a few seconds to get used to the changes the first time around, but the controls still say the same, and after a while you actually begin appreciating the range of styles, and you’re never surprised by anything unfair. Speaking of which, the shift between regular combat to bullet hell segments where groups of enemies fire a ton of projectiles at at you is executed perfectly as well. And the challenge level there is at its best, the kind where it’s chaotic but never overwhelming, and it really feels like a test of skill as you dodge everything.
Alright, the normal enemies are fine, but is there an issue with boss battles? No, because fighting a massive living facility with giant buzzsaw hands is quite awesome, and again, it’s tough but fair, testing quick reflexes as you dodge massive blows. Even the enemy designs are well done, with the simple, cute faces for the various robots providing a good contrast to the grimier aesthetics. In fact, all of enemy and character designs seen so far have been quite impressive in one way or another.
Level design? There are invisible walls, but that’s not too much of an issue. The levels we’ve seen so far seems to suggest a good mix of linear missions that are still wide enough to explore for various supplies, and they all look quite gorgeous. And platforming is slightly tricky on the first go (or at least 2D platforming is), but it becomes easy as well. So nothing wrong there either. It all sets up a pretty intriguing post-apocalyptic universe to explore, with hints of an interesting story.
So Nier: Automata seemed to be almost completely lacking in flaws so far. But then, recalling the story segments in the demo, I found it. One actual flaw in the game that legitimately bugged me. During a scene between heroine 2B and 9S, I was able to actually register a complaint against the game.
The subtitles are too damn slow.
…Yeah, I know, it sounds like the most trivial flaw possible, and you can just press a button to skip them, but…I don’t know, it just really bugged me. I mean, why have subtitles that appear so slowly that the voice acting is actually finished by the time they fully appear? Why allow for an awkward silence there while you wait? Why not just program it so they show up faster? And this is only a flaw with certain discussions in between gameplay, but I can’t help it, it just felt like such an amateur mistake alongside everything else we’ve seen so far. Why?
But still, there you go. The one notable flaw I’ve found with NieR: Automata so far. And really is says a lot about how damn good the rest of the game has appeared so far that subtitle speed was the only real nitpick at the moment. Of course, we still don’t have the final version yet, so maybe there could be more to complain about, but I doubt it, and who wants that anyway? NieR: Automata truly is indeed shaping up to be one of the year’s best games and I eagerly anticipate its March 7 release date to see what else it can offer.
…But seriously, though, let’s work on those subtitles (although I wager that I’m going to get at least one comment concerning a solution to the problem that I somehow missed).