NieR: Automata – The Masterpiece I Just Wasn’t Expecting

I’m a few hours into playing NieR: Automata on the PS4 and I just had to write about it.

Forget about gaming for now; I’m not that great at games anyway, NieR is a masterpiece in setting, visual style, and audio. And it just so happens to get the gaming part right too.

I know there are people out there with no interest in gaming, perhaps the perception of grand theft auto, call of duty and other highly visible games puts them off. Some of those people love creative art, world building, story, atmospheric music etc…

And I want to introduce those people to NeiR so much!

Let me introduce you to 2B; an Android, and the main protaganist:

NieR: Automata – 2B (image from official platinum games site)

My personal feelings aside, a quick google search for official reviews reveals that some critics were equally impressed:

  • The masterpiece you won’t play
  • The RPG of a generation
  • Ridiculous and unabashed
  • An absolute masterclass in game design

I’m a sometimes fan of Anime / RPGs / Sci-Fi so, it’s easy to assume I’d be a typical fanboy of this game just based on the box art, but I really didn’t know what to expect and went into it open minded.

I expected a typical RPG start; some tutorials, story related video clips, or basic plot establishing quests. But NieR delivered a much more interesting experience, I found myself glued to the first hour or so of the game enjoying the art style, the varied gameplay and I had genuine interest in the characters and what was happening. The mechanics were fun and satisfying, without being too challenging.

NieR is set in a post apocalyptic future which makes for stunning visuals, an interesting Sci-Fi premise, and the potential for an interesting world to discover.

Nier: Automata – 2B and post apocalyptic Earth
NieR: Automata Concept Art
NieR: Automata Concept Art

It’s not a spoiler to say that the enemies are alien robots that invaded Earth. The robots have a somewhat Studio Ghibli style feel to them, which is a style I love. It also gives them a mix of cuteness and scary-ness.

NieR: Automata – 2B and a Robot

In NeiR you control the Android 2B, you have two gorgeous samurai inspired swords for strong and medium attacks, and a small floating companion robot who is both useful and well integrated to the storyline – he can fire range weapons, project a virtual display for comms and be used for fishing.

Nier: Automota – 2B and companions / in battle

You also have a fellow android companion – 6B, there is some subtle and interesting storytelling related to their relationship in the intro, I’ll be interested to see where it goes.

Nier: Automota – 2B and companions / in battle
Nier: Automota – 2B and companions / in battle
Nier: Automota – 2B and companions / in battle

The gameplay itself is quite fast paced. 2B can chain attacks together and has a fast dodge. The dodge is a little reminiscent of Bayonetta and allows you to avoid attacks. There are also some quite cool jump based attacks. It’s not overly complex, but really fun.

The characters seems to be highly customisable although I’m not that far in. You can replace the ‘chips’ in your Android to set up different abilities, you can also customise the your companion robot.

I’m not a skilled gamer and I think that I found it easy to understand and enjoyable means this game is accessible to anyone.

Let’s talk music – the music from the first hub post intro is beautiful:

As are some of the other songs:

NieR is the game that I’ve been wanting from the Final Fantasy franchise for a long time.

Well.. it’s difficult to say that a few hours in..

But I can say this game has given me the sense of immersion, interest and enjoyment that I so fondly remember from my Final Fantasy VII days; a big part of that was world building, visual style, character and music.

The ‘roadtrip’ Final Fantasy XV was a bit of a disappointment, I didn’t personally gel with the setting, characters or gameplay in the first few hours.

So NieR is a strong recommendation from me, not just for gamers, but for everyone. Go out and buy or borrow a PS4 and this game, even if you only play a few hours, I think it’ll be a worthwhile experience.

A big shout out to the creaters;

Producer: Yosuke Saito
Director: YOKO TARO
Composer: Keiichi Okabe
Character design: Akihiko Yoshida
Development: PlatinumGames

Hakka No Togame | 白霞罸

I decided to separate my blog out from my photography website so that I could write more about culture, anime, books, games, yoga and other topics I find interesting.

A good place to start would be my blog name – Hakka No Togame.

It’s a Japanese phrase from the first manga / anime I ever got into. I was introduced to “Bleach” by an ex-girlfriend and watched the complete run of 366 episodes.

The Japanese kanji for Hakka No Togame is 白霞罸.

Names in Japanese have underlying meaning, in the case of Hakka 白霞  – the meaning is 白 – white and 霞 -haze. The third character 罸 means punishment, penalty, censure.

So it translates to something like, “censure of the white haze” or “punishment of the white haze”.

This phrase refers to the ‘special move’ of one of the main characters in Bleach, before I explain Hakka No Togame some background on Bleach.

Bleach started out as a manga (comic) in Japan’s most popular weekly magazine for boys; Shonen Jump. It was then developed into an anime which included TV episodes and movies.

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 12.35.33.png
Shonen Jump magazine covers featuring Bleach

Plot Summary

Bleach is about a guy called Ichigo. In typical anime fashion he is a high school student with special powers. He can see the ghosts (souls) of dead people. Souls should move onto ‘soul society’ when people die, however sometimes they don’t and instead transform into hollows – the evil monsters of bleach.

Hollows come from people who were evil in life, or good people who can’t move on due to some unresolved emotional stuff.

Not only can Ichigo see souls and hollows he can fight them.

The anime focusses on Ichigo’s characteristic of protecting those weaker than him, he does this by building his abilities to fight hollows and other villains as a soul reaper. Another big part of the story is Ichigo’s relationships with his friends and the other soul reapers including notably Rukia.

Two Main Characters

I love Bleach because of the often whimsical but sometimes touching relationship between Ichigo and Rukia.

Ichigo and Rukia’s relationship never becomes romantic; partly based on this being a boys comic, however I found that it leads to a stronger story of affection and care where both characters save each other in various ways throughout.

Soul Reaper Samurai Swords

The soul reapers each have variations on samurai swords known as zanpakuto. These weapons seem to have some form of life and awareness and can be weilded by soul reapers to perform special attacks.

A whole lot of anime is about levelling up your weapon, gaining new powers, becoming ever stronger.

The weapons have successive levels of attack heading towards ‘ultimate attacks’ which are referred to bankai.

Rukia’s bankai is hakka no togame. When she performs this special move her character goes into an ‘icy’ looking form and attacks with a haze that becomes a pillar of ice.

bleach 5

My interest in anime grew over the years. I’ve never gone totally crazy, but I have watched several excellent series, my favourites are:

  • Black Lagoon
  • Claymore
  • Hunter X Hunter
  • Evangelion
  • Haruhi Suzimaya
  • Shirokuma Cafe

Manga and anime are just two fun aspects of Japan. I’ve been to Japan a few times and really appreciate the traditional culture, temples, safety, art etc.

Manga and anime covers all kinds of genre’s of story, I wouldn’t recommend Bleach to everyone, it’s very long and has a lot of filler episodes, but I think there is an anime everyone would enjoy.