Alright, I've been playing for a couple days since launch. Here are my initial thoughts:

tldr; pretty standard gacha game with pretty graphics and standard predatory monetization.

Nikke is developed by Shift Up, who made Destiny Child, a flashy lottery machine of a gacha game with a Persona 5-esque aesthetic. They are also currently developing Stellar Blade, formerly known as Project Eve, which if you don't remember is the game whose trailer everyone made fun of for having an absurdly sexualized main character in a serious dystopian setting. This game has a very similar setting to that game, by which I mean it's basically their own take on NieR:Automata, in which the earth is ruined and taken over by robots and humans send sexy android women to fight them. I like to imagine the developers played Nier and was like, "what if this game had more 2B booty and less philosophy?"

The art and character designs, which is what most people care about, are admittedly cool looking. The sexy military outfits remind me of Azur Lane, but instead of the nautical theme, they're going for a tacticool aesthetic, kind of like Girls' Frontline. However, compared to Girls' Frontline, the characters here are thiccer (by which I mean more voluptuous) and more overtly sexualized. There's also (currently) not nearly as many lolis as Azur lane, so that's a plus. Ideally we would have no lolis, but you know how the audience for these types of games are. The Live2d art is honestly amazing, it has the same high level of quality as Destiny Child. Unlike Destiny Child though, they actually bothered to put some gameplay in here, so props to the dev team for making something like an actual video game this time around.

The gameplay itself pretty simple: you just tap and hold to aim and shoot, and release to reload and take cover. It's very similar to an arcade shooter and very simple to operate. Apparently it was designed to be playable with one hand. Not gonna make the obvious joke here, but I really do like the idea of one-handed gameplay ever since I encountered it in Earthbound. However, it's not nearly as handy here since, like most gacha games, you can just full auto most levels if your team's strong enough, though manually playing's admittedly fairly fun due to the flashy effects. Also, I like that they use full-sized character illustrations for the combat instead of chibis. A lot of other gacha games use deformed chibi sprites for combat which I always thought was dumb, so good for them for not following that trend.

The story is ok. They're going for some darker emotional beats, and balancing with dumb anime humor. There's some ideas I'd say they ripped straight from Nier, such as virus corruption and memory erasure, and I'm fully expecting a similar turn in which you find out the machines are actually more intelligent than you thought. The writers managed to put a little bit of interesting intrigue in here though, so I'll see how it turns out. The full voice acting also definitely helps. There are a couple of fun side characters, like the S&M couple - always like to see positive portrayals of BDSM. Not really sure how I feel about the flamboyantly gay comic relief character though. I'm not familiar enough with Korean media to know how homosexuality is usually portrayed but I assume it's not great.

Alright, so now for the gacha bullshit. Rates are ok, it's 4% for an SSR. Hilariously enough, there's currently 9 Rs, 9 SRs, and a whopping 44 SSRs, so they really want you to roll for that waifu. The gems you can earn in game feel a little tight currently, similar to the Fire Emblem Heroes launch in my experience, where you're constantly scrounging around for gems so you can pull that sweet, sweet gacha. But maybe that's just how all these games feel on launch, idk.

Speaking of money, the whale fishing is absolutely hilarious in this game. So if you didn't know, "whales" are players with highly disposable income who spend an absurd amount of money on gacha games. I'm exaggerating but the idea is they basically make up like 1% of the playerbase but 90% of the revenue, so developers are always looking to milk them for all they're worth. If you're a normal person, you should probably only buy the $5 30-day daily gem supply. It's the same as the $5 monthly blessing in Genshin Impact, in that it's by far the most bang for your buck microtransaction in the whole game, nothing else even comes close.

If you're a whale though, your options include: a $20 seasonal battle pass, a $20 campaign pass that gives gems for completing story levels, limited time packages (available for 2 weeks after first playing) that range from $1 to $100 dollars, various daily, weekly, and monthly packages that range from $1 to $100, gem packages (with first time double bonuses of course) that range from $5 to $80, and various level up specials of increasing cost that last 2 hours after reaching certain commander levels. I know this level of predatory monetization is basically standard for these types of games at this point, but it still surprises me when a game like this is so brazen with it. I know people always say this but please, for god's sake, if you have a gambling problem, do NOT play gacha games, because holy shit this is awful.

Anyway, I'm a sick freak, so I'll keep playing for a bit. In general, the production values are certainly high, but people might be put off by the aggressive monetization, so we'll see how long the game lasts.


Update: Alright, as of the first Christmas update (Dec 2022), I've stopped playing this game. The microtransaction bullshit was just getting way too much, man. This might actually be the worst I've seen it in a gacha game (besides Destiny Child lol). Also, the game kept crashing for me, even on Bluestacks which was weird. I thought for sure they'd fix it eventually but the crashes still kept happening even a month after launch, which was very annoying. It's kind of a shame, though. Like I said before, the story isn't actually complete trash, there's some stuff there, I think. The Christmas story, for instance, was actually pretty sad, I quite liked it. But I figure the time I would have spent on this game will now be spent on better games that aren't hounding my wallet. So for anyone still playing I would honestly say you're better off uninstalling and just staying away from gacha in general. It's just not good for you, man.

Reviewed on Nov 06, 2022