23 hours into my NieR: Replicant Ver. 1.22474487139 playthrough, I felt confident in starting my review with the intent of giving the game a solid recommendation for taking one of my favourite 2010 releases and modernizing it for contemporary audiences by imbuing elements found in its 2017 sequel, NieR: Automata.
The above statement still rings true, yet after having finished the game in its entirety, clocking in around 35 hours, I can say that NieR: Replicant Ver. 1.22474487139 is not only the definitive version of NieR, Ver. 1.22474487139 is a swan song to bookend the PlayStation 4’s life-cycle.
For many, NieR: Automata may have been their first exposure to the Drakengard spinoff series, thankfully, like its sequel, NieR: Replicant can be enjoyed as a standalone experience without the worry of missing out on too much of the subtler narrative beats that come with a broader understanding of the series.
NieR: Replicant is a spinoff of the aforementioned Drakengard series of action RPGs that began life on the PlayStation 2. Unlike the former, NieR is a much more focused and traditional feeling roleplaying experience, akin to something closer to the N64-era Legend of Zelda games, at least in the beginning. Ultimately, NieR: Replicant is a wholly original experience that draws gameplay and narrative beats from an eclectic collection of genres and works.
Without giving away too much, newcomers to NieR should expect the game to subvert expectations at least a few times, both in respects to gameplay and story sequences. In fact, those like me, who have experience with the original PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 release will be delighted to know that although faithful to the original, NieR: Replicant includes some fun surprises and additions that organically meld into the not-so organic world of NieR.
Fan’s of the original 2010 release can rest assured in knowing that none of the content found in NeiR Replicant has been cut, including the World of Recycled Vessel’s DLC content, which has now been incorporated into the base game and can be accessed shortly after the player acquires Grimoire Weiss. Finally, those who have grown accustomed to Father Nier found in NieR Gestalt can look forward to his return while enjoying the once DLC content.
Those familiar with NieR: Automata will feel right at home thanks to Toylogic smartly incorporating gameplay mechanics found in the 2017 Platinum games sequel. These additions include a brand-new lock-on system, the ability to utilize Grimoire Weiss’s magic while moving, and new animations that change the combat’s overall feel, making it feel fluid and responsive and, simply put, more fun to play than ever before.
In-lieu of how well Toylogic has done in its approach to remaking NieR: Replicant, a Drakengard 3 remake should be something SquareEnix considers for the future, which like the original NieR was a great game that suffered from some technical issues, ultimately holding it back.
Graphically, NieR: Replicant is a much more vibrant looking game than its 2010 counterparts, with character models that put the game closer in line with the aesthetics found in NieR: Automata while still maintaining some of its darker gothic-inspired themes.
In terms of performance, NieR: Replicant plays like a dream with a steady 60fps with no discernable drops, at least from my time with the game on a PlayStation 4 PRO and through backwards compatibility on PS5. The jump to 60fps not only puts Ver. 1.22474487139 in parity with Automata, but helps alleviate some of the more difficult bullet-hell inspired sequences present in the game, making for an overall smoother and engaging experience.
Those looking to enjoy the game without worry of any challenging roadblocks can utilize the new auto-battle system, which can only be accessed when playing on the Easy difficulty setting. Another subtle but welcome addition in NieR: Replicant is the addition of fully-voiced lines for every character, including all NPCs that can be interacted with in-game, an excellent addition that breaths new life into the numerous side-quests present in the expansive post-apocalyptic setting.
NieR: Replicant utilizes the power of language and written word in its overall theme, both in regard to its narrative and approach to design. From Keiichi Okabe’s beautifully realized soundtrack to the new localization that heralds the return of fan favourites such as Liam O’Brien as Grimore Weiss and Laura Bailey as Kaine,
NieR: Replicant on PS5 eloquently carves a niche that, in many ways, places the power of language and written word on a pedestal that most games don’t even consider (Except for maybe Drakengard 3). The power of language and song also permeates NieR’s gameplay with Grimore Weiss’s Sealed Verses, literally acting as powerful magic imbued attacks that play similarly to the Pod system found in Automata.
If nothing else, NieR: Replicant Ver. 1.22474487139 is a unique game even when held in contrast with its 2017 follow-up and a must-play for both fans of the original and those looking for something a little darker than a Final Fantasy or any number of anime-inspired JRPG titles.