Taro Yoko’s games always had interesting stories, even if they weren’t all necessarily good ones. His games were often hindered by the gameplay - Drakengard making Dynasty Warriors look like Devil May Cry in comparison - so when it was announced that Platinum would be developing Nier: Automata, I was understandably excited.
And, of course, Platianum delivered in spades. Nier: Automata is a quick, stylish and often challenging game. 2B’s moveset isn’t quite as deep as Bayonetta’s, but it never feels lacking. The weapons all feel different, and even though there are only four subcategories - those being small swords, large swords, spears and combat bracers - each weapon can be paired with another to create new combinations. For example, pairing a spear with a large sword allows 2B to use the polearm as a makeshift dance pole and spin around with the sword extended, attacking all enemies within reach. Weapons can also be levelled up, which both increases their attack and unveils a small story unique to each weapon. 2B can also dodge, counter, parry and launch enemies into the air, all of which can be combined to create an intense flurry of stylish attacks that feels fluid. It’s a great feeling game.
Along with her vigilant companion, 9S, 2B is equipped with a Pod companion that provides her with a ranged attack. The Pod’s default attack is one that deals surprisingly good damage, but it also has a cooldown special ability called a program that deals devastating damage. Pods can also be customized with different programs to utilize different special abilities. For example, one creates a decoy that attracts enemies, and another spins the Pod around the player at high speed, annihilating any enemy that gets too close. If you have more than one Pod, all of which have their own unique default attack, you can charge up these special abilities to make them even more powerful. Unfortunately, being a Platinum Game, it often fails to point out certain small but useful abilities. There are a couple of Pod moves I accidentally pulled off before I knew they existed. Embarrassingly enough, I didn’t even know how to launch enemies into the air until about 10 hours in. It’s jump and attack, not back and attack, by the way.
When the game shifts perspective, which it often does, Nier can become a 2D side-scrolling shooter akin to Contra, one of Taro Yoko’s main inspirations, with the Pod becoming 2B’s primary weapon. This is also the case for when the camera shifts to a bird's-eye view and turns the game into a twin-stick shooter. These camera shifts sound like they could be jarring, but often change slowly enough to allow the player to get used to this shift in perspective. These changes keep the gameplay fresh and exciting; you don’t know when the camera’s going to shift while exploring a new area. Ironically enough, the only time the camera becomes a problem is when the game’s in 3D. There’s usually a lot going on visually, and sometimes the camera gets trapped on a wall, or even behind a multitude of enemies. Because of this it can be easy to lose yourself in large scale battles.