With a new entry on the horizon, we wanted to take a look at the history of the NieR franchise and answer some of your questions about the upcoming NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139….
After hitting some serious mainstream appeal with the release of 2017’s NieR:Automata, this action-RPG series from Square Enix has a unique and complex history that make for one of the most powerful sci-fi narratives in gaming.
Ready to dive in?
What is NieR?
NieR is an action role-playing game that actually debuted in Japan in 2010 as two games: NieR Replicant and NieR Gestalt. The game we know as NIER in the West is actually NieR Gestalt, and released on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
The games are actually a spin-off of the Drakengard series, based on one of the series’ many endings. NieR (as we know it) followed a protagonist (who I’ll refer to as “Nier”) who is on the search for a way to cure his daughter Yonah from an illness.
Now, 11 years later, NieR Replicant is receiving a sort-of Western release (and an enhanced release in Japan) as NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on April 23.
The original NieR games received a spiritual sequel in 2017 called NieR:Automata, from PlatinumGames (Bayonetta, Astral Chain) and director YOKO TARO, which went on to win numerous awards and fan acclaim.
So is this a remake?
According to the game’s developers, Replicant isn’t a remake or remaster, but rather an “upgrade.” What does this mean, exactly?
It isn’t a full remake as it wasn’t built from the ground up, but it’s also not a simple remaster because developers put substantial effort into bringing the gameplay up to modern standards. NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… is intentionally built to feel much more like NieR:Automata.
For those who played the original game, you’ll be able to follow the protagonist once again to find the cure for his sister. Yes, Yonah is his sister in this one, pulling from the original Replicant story vs. Gestalt.
They’re essentially the same game with a similar story, except for the protagonist. But wait, I thought the protagonist was Nier?
In Gestalt, Nier was a middle-aged man, and in Replicant, he’s a teenager. Besides a few script changes to accommodate this, that’s virtually the only difference at the core of each game.
Why didn’t NieR Replicant originally release in the West?
When it came to bringing the game overseas, NieR Gestalt was chosen as the basis for the international version and was simply localized as NIER.
In an interview with YOKO TARO and producer Yosuke Saito, it was indicated that the younger version of the protagonist was actually designed first, though the Western release eventually focused on the adult, middle-aged protagonist.
TARO mentioned that games at the time in the United States often depicted more “macho” characters. And we’ve seen this in some of the most popular and well-received games in recent years, like God of War and The Last of Us.
But now, Western audiences will get to experience the story of a younger protagonist in Replicant.
Tell me about the “upgrades” in this new release of NieR Replicant.
Because this entry is based on the original Japanese PlayStation 3 release, players will get to see the perspective of the protagonist as a younger brother taking care of his sister. It’s interesting to note that this version of the protagonist actually has two voice actors, one for his younger self and one for his older self.
Replicant is also split into two parts, with a five-year time skip in between. So when the brother protagonist gets older, he exits his teenage years and his voice gets deeper (keep in mind, he’s still not as old as the protagonist from Gestalt).
To reiterate, this isn’t just a remake or remaster, it’s an “upgrade.” And from what I’ve played of the game so far, I actually agree with that assessment: it feels different.
While the game’s environments and areas feel close to the original, this isn’t just a shiny new coat of paint. The gameplay of NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… has been so fine-tuned to feel more like NieR:Automata that calling it a simple remaster does not do it justice. This really is an upgrade from the original.
The game also features a refined script, as well as a newly recorded score and voice acting. The main cast’s original actors reprise their roles, as well.
Do I need to play NieR:Automata first?
Even though we absolutely recommend Automata, it is not required to enjoy this release of Replicant or the original NieR game. That’s because Replicant is an entirely standalone story, packed with fascinating lore and a cast of great characters.
If you have played Automata, you’ll appreciate the refined gameplay here. And if you just played the original NieR, you’ll love revisiting this heartfelt story once again.