Square Enix showed the latest build of its action adventure game Nier at Gamescom and never have I heard salty talk. At least from Square Enix, who generally doesn't drop the F-bomb in its games. But Nier is positively vulgar.
Okay, it's not technically the eponymous Nier himself whose offending our delicate sensibilities, nor is it his ever present partner the talking book. It was his AI-controlled compatriot Kaine, shown for the first time at Gamescom, who delivered some surprisingly adult language.
When she said "Rot in hell, motherf—ker!" to the multi-teated boss monster—seen above—my ears perked up. But it was the threat "I'll rip your dick off and feed it to your kids!" that made me realise this wasn't going to be a one-off or a placeholder line. Actually, that dick-ripping comment was what was shown in the game's subtitles. Kaine's voiced line said something about how she was going to piss on the boss monster.
Unfortunately, I missed her exact phrasing. But when she also said "This ends now asshole!" I knew I had to start paying attention to this character. After all, she was wearing little more than a pair of panties, stockings and a nightie, Square Enix-style, giving her a rather slutty appearance.
Takayuki Kawasaki, producer on Nier, says there are reasons why Kaine speaks and dresses this way, commenting that those reasons are "related to the story and the vision" of the game. Part of that "vision" is that expand beyond the " existing Square Enix image" which Kawasaki says is that of a "Japanese role-playing game giant."
Our Nier demo was hands-off and clearly still early. It looked more than rough around the edges, but Kawasaki says the game is still in the tuning stages, only 50% graphically complete. But we got to see Nier mixing it up with a handful of enemies, all part of a multi-stage boss fight, forcing him and his partner Kaine to do some running around between boss battling.
That dust up was part sword slashing, part spell casting, with Nier's book buddy launching some magical attacks at the boss creature. Nier himself also busted out some black magic, including a giant mystical hand made of black and red energy, picking up the creature and slapping it against a cavern wall.
While most of Nier will be standard 3D action combat—a la Ninja Gaiden or Devil May Cry—there will be some variations on this. At one point during our demo, the camera switched to a locked side view, making Nier temporarily a 2D platformer. Kawasaki indicated we'd also get a top-down view at times. An interesting choice.
According to Kawasaki, Nier's combat will be fairly simple, slower than what we'd see in a Ninja Gaiden.
There are two buttons used in basic combat, a normal slashing attack and a special attack, with the ability to parry, dodge, and use magic in real time. Kawasaki called Nier a "very high speed hack and slash and sword and sorcery game." Honestly, it didn't look very high speed to me.
Nier clearly has a long way to go. And it will still take some work to convince us that Square Enix and developer Cavia can deliver an action experience on par with some of the genre's best. It may have an interesting story in Nier, but the action continues to look rather sedate. We'll have to go hands on with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game before passing any judgements, hopefully something we'll do before the game ships next year.