i have not played replicant ver. 1.22 at all and i imagine it may be some time before i do, but i wanted to take a moment to say a couple things about this game. mostly, i wanted to talk briefly about nier's particular place in recent games history in the west.

think of what video games looked like in america in 2010: extremely dominated by AAA western games design, to the point that many games by japanese developers were coming from increasingly disadvantaged development studios trying to keep up with what sold. jrpgs were at an all-time low—call of duty and gears of war reigned. final fantasy was as maligned as it would ever be. from japan, we saw the likes of binary domain, quantum theory... lots of cover shooters and miserable militarized shootmangames. (don't get me wrong: binary domain is cool!) there were certainly examples to the contrary, mostly niche games in staple genres, but this was the prevailing flavor of the day.

so: demon's souls? while not a massive departure from western aesthetics, it clearly signified a resurgence in fresh, inspired games from japan. i don't think it would be a significant stretch to suggest that nier may have benefitted somewhat from the renewed interest demon's souls (and, sure: bayonetta) elicited, but much more than that i'd say it owes its success and its legacy entirely to itself. nier came out swinging: fuck you, this is japanese games. bullet hell shooters, farming sims, references to zelda and resident evil, the sheer weirdness of it... it was a game that seemed to be proud of japanese games, unwilling to bow down to the demands of the western market. and i think the success of this approach speaks for itself. just look at how things have turned around over the last decade! and these days, how many games can be praised for this level of sea change?

Reviewed on Apr 23, 2021


7 Comments


1 month ago

NieR Gestalt was literally an example of a game that bowed to the demands of the western market, though? That's why they changed the protagonist to a grizzled old man instead of an anime boy?

1 month ago

yeah, i'm well aware that this is a thing people say, but i don't think it's correct. dad nier is way too strange-looking to be a marcus fenix or uncharted man in earnest. i could see his depiction being a sort of caustic imitation of this idea to an almost satirical effect, but i really feel strongly that anyone who believes he's designed to PANDER to call of duty players or whatever is fooling themselves.

1 month ago

@hot_anarcocoa that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with bowing to the demands of the western market. the gestalt version was released in japan, too. i'd imagine square just didn't want to localize both versions. they didn't "change" the protagonist at all

1 month ago

@chandler Oh I didn't realize they released 2 versions in Japan, weird. Was that always planned? Did people just assume Gestalt was made for America and that's the narrative that stuck?

1 month ago

it was a weird marketing thing in japan. the 360 version was gestalt, and the ps3 version was replicant. needless to say the ps3 version was the more known one in japan (nobody gave a fuck about the 360 there) and square localized the gestalt version just because

gestalt was probably chosen cause they were going for a more mature audience than a final fantasy release, so i'd imagine they wanted to represent it with a protagonist that'd be more relatable to the older players

i'd imagine the ignorance towards replicant vs gestalt was just due to the fact that nobody cared about nier in the west outside of a small niche until automata was released

1 month ago

it completely slipped my mind for a moment that gestalt even came out in japan, admittedly. i still think there might be some subtext to dad nier's odd look given what the 360 represented in japan, though i obviously can't say anything concrete there.

1 month ago

@Hot_Anarcocoa I mean, it is true that Papa Nier was made because Square Enix wanted a protagonist that would be more well received by western audiences, but honestly, I see it as a trojan horse. If you're someone in 2010, seeing this game on a shelf and looking at the cover, you might think it's another big buff man power fantasy game, but you boot up the game and get a guy who still gives corny speeches about the power of friendship, is very kind and gentle with his friends, is a bit naive in many ways, and still spends his time doing all of the things mentioned in OP's review, doing fishing and farming minigames, side questing for weird mundane tasks, etc. It's still very, unapologetically japanese, just in a different vehicle that the team thought would allow western audiences to better understand the game at the time. I do prefer the younger Nier myself, and I'm glad he's getting his chance to shine for western audiences in the remake, but I don't think Papa Nier is any sort of compromise.