NieR Preview

By Mary-Lynn McLachlan on April 5, 2010, 5:31PM EDT

Meet Nier, a robust middle aged man with a rugged, violent look to him. Nier enjoys long walks alongside plagued beaches, defeating evil, and saving his daughter. Naturally a man of this calibre is a shoe in for a self-titled video game, 'Nier.' Cavia began developing the game right away, and Square Enix believed the story of Nier upheld their very own standard of excellence. Truth be told this action role-play game won't be based off a real 'unyielding' man presented in a mock-reality video game fashion. This is unfortunate as the story would have been more unique, or at least been more fun that way.

What the story is really about is a future generation of people who are overcome by a deadly contagious disease. Things get worse though, as the sick are being turned into evil creatures. Nier's daughter becomes sick, and he is hell bent on saving her life. In his quest to save his daughter he seeks to end the disease that cripples the world. Accompanied by a talking grimoire, and a scantly clad lass named Kaine, Nier tackles unstoppable odds in a crumbling world. Classic parent beats all odds to save child story, add that with a generic derelict world, giant swords, and boobs. Storyline wise things seem to be played on the safe side, although Square Enix has outwardly prided itself on its signature storytelling.

Nier, himself looks like a retired entertainment wrestler. And there is nothing wrong with that, it's just unexpected when the rest of the game looks like a manga. The one feature that sparks hope in the story is the companions. A talking grimoire with a sense of humour, and a foul mouthed female lead at least promise that there will be funny moments, whether they were intended to be funny or not. Benefit of the doubt as to how interesting the story will be has to be given when considering the characters.

Most hype revolving around Nier is due to the controversial hermaphrodite female lead, Kaine. Speculation that this aspect of the character will be censored has created a lot of debate, and perhaps Nier will cause an intersexed game hero revolution with this bold statement. Bold or unfortunate, it hardly seems fair that so much coverage has been due to this one tiny detail.

Gameplay appears to be along similar lines of any other action adventure game. Nier is supposed to feature diverse gameplay, but really what that turns out to be is multiple weapon types, melee combo attacks, and ranged spells. Curing the world breaks down to the ability to conquer dungeons, and collect emblems. It smells as familiar as yesterday's grape juice, but perhaps the grimoire attacks will ferment this familiar gameplay into some fine wine. The grimoire, which Nier wields to do magical attacks, is unique as it lances out magic which decimates foes. Currently though, there is only speculation as to how well this magical grimoire has been implemented, or how fun the mechanic will be for players. Nier will also feature cinematic events, as well as gameplay, tagged with a detailed environment to create an immersive experience for players.

Will Nier deliver Square Enix's promise of 'rich storyline' and 'diverse' gameplay, or is this the same story, different day syndrome of hiding behind familiar concepts and mechanics, in an earnest hope to turn a dollar? While it's wrong to discount a game entirely before thoroughly evaluating it, it seems like there is very little to look forward to when considering Nier. There has been a lot of discouraging silence revolving the title, both from prospective fans, and the developers themselves. Boasting no real graphical achievement, or new mechanics, this leaves only hope for the story. However so far the story has been 'nothing as it seems' in a confusing, convoluted way, and not at all in a mysterious 'hey that's a good add campaign phrase' way.

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