The fate of YoRHa lies in the hands of a Gothic, blindfold wearing android: 2B. This is NieR: Automata, the sequel to NieR (2010) a JRPG/Hack 'n' Slash from Square Enix with 80+ hours of gameplay released on Playstation and PC in February earlier this year (which is 2017, in case you've time-traveled without realizing it).
To start off, you're dropped into a classic arcade-style bullet hell situation reminiscent of titles like 1942. You and a highly untrained squadron of fighters that are unable to dodge gigantic, obvious lazer beams zoom across the ocean towards a city devoid of sentient organic life getting picked off one by one. This introduction both throws the player's expectations of the gameplay and builds on what is to come, as the majority of the game is 3rd-person Hack 'n' Slash style combat with an innovative helping of deadly geometric lazer patterns thrown in.
The pressure only builds in this sadistic tutorial. The moment you land, a couple of basic enemies run your way, before a monstrous buzz-saw decides it doesn't like the building you're in and crashes through the entire wall and ceiling. Only once you defeat the boss after this one will you find a save-point, which is a long way away. A fair warning to those attempting Hard Mode first time round. You will have to cry while you do it all again, cutscenes and all.
Light attack, heavy attack, jump, dodge and varying combinations of these actions will create many different combos depending on the weapons you have equipped. You are able to create two weapon sets, which you can switch between mid-combo to create even longer chains and varieties of attacks.
Foes range from tiny to super-massive, pitting you against hordes of one-hit-kill enemies and singular behemoths as tall and indestructible as a block of flats. There are a lot of re-skins in this game. However, the re-skins are backed up by the plot itself, which kind of helps you accept it.
Also, the main robots are kind of like Lego, they come with a different attachments, faces, make-up, hair-styles and clothes to create a surprisingly diverse cast despite all their bodies being the same. Kind of gets you thinking about humans... anyway, the detail on enemy types in the pause menu is interesting in this respect. In many ways the game is a slow burner, so keep going if you're feeling tired near the start. There is a lot more to come. For example the main antagonists: two naked men with groins flatter than Ayer's Rock.
As well as an AI ally called 9S, who makes the sparsely populated world a little less lonely and deals decent damage, you have a PoD hovering above your shoulder that can utilise many kinds of weaponry and shields. Aspects of the world and how you journey through it are similar to titles such as Dark Souls and Fallout, with save points to be discovered and used to fast travel to other locations.
NieR: Automata includes a level-up system, which boosts your stats while you boost your combat skills as a player. This system acts as a barrier to certain areas, which become unexplorable due to being one banged because the enemies are level 50 and you're level 5. The foes in the main areas of the game raise in level so that you gain exp at a consistent rate and don't need to play for four months just to reach a higher level like on Runescape.
While the roaming can become tiresome before the fast-travel function is available, there is a surprising amount of depth to the environment and familiar areas change dramatically as the story progresses. There are other tedious and overdone aspects to the game though. The side-quests are hardly imaginative. Expect all the classics: escort, search and destroy, collect 6 sproggled springs. You get the picture.
It's an extremely immersive game that is visually awe-inspiring and complemented (perhaps even more so) by the epic soundtrack and interesting sound effects. Walking through the desolate landscape of an abandoned and crumbling city in the desert to an orchestra led by an incredible female singer is memorable.
The soundtrack features a lot of vocals, from opera to choirs and other styles that sets it apart from other titles. Perhaps a reason so many human voices appear in the soundtrack is the games central theme and question: what is it to be human?
Overall, my personal experience with this game gives it a 7 out of 10 rating. My issues with the game are to do with the seemingly endless (and often very slow) running around and the stale side-quests. Also a question I can never get out of my head: Why is the entire army of combat-loving androids that live in space pretty much all young white women that fulfill the criteria of our current paradigm's generic idea of beauty?
I'm sure that its nothing to do with dated marketing techniques and that the story-line explains it one way or another. Maybe there's a note somewhere in the game that tells you that they put Hugh Hefner in charge of designing the army of androids. In spite of these questions and tediums, what keeps me afloat is the delicious combat, the absorbing soundtrack and the level-up/ability systems being complex enough to keep you interested in the pause menu for hours.
Have you played NeiR: Automata? If you thought it was a massive pile of wank, let me know below!