The Nier Replicant Remaster Does Many Good Things And One Awful Thing

The Nier Replicant Remaster Does Many Good Things And One Awful Thing
Kainé is not amused. (Screenshot: Square Enix)

I played the original Nier back in 2010 and thoroughly enjoyed it despite the main character being a hideous troll of an old man. Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139…, with the handsome younger hero originally exclusive to Japan, looks, plays, and feels better overall, save the unfortunate inclusion of an achievement for players who peek at the underwear of an intersex supporting character.

The original Nier was released as two different games in Japan. PlayStation 3 players got Nier Replicant, starring a traditional anime-style teen hero questing to save his little sister from a mysterious disease in an intriguing post-apocalyptic setting. Due to some nonsense about trying to appeal to Western gamers, Xbox 360 owners got Nier Gestalt, exactly the same game, only instead of an easy-on-the-eyes hero saving his sister, it stars an ugly older fellow saving his daughter. In North America everybody got Gestalt, renamed to simply Nier.

The protagonist of 2010's Nier.  (Screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku) The protagonist of 2010’s Nier. (Screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku)

I reviewed Nier for Kotaku back in 2010. I enjoyed the story, with all its very depressing twists. I loved the characters, save daddy Nier, who felt out-of-place in a world filled with generic anime NPCs. The combat is clunky but enjoyable, a pleasing mix of stabbing, slashing, and over-the-top magic. Perhaps my favourite part of the game, in retrospect, is the incredibly impressive screen-filling boss battles. One minute you’re wandering acrossing a peaceful grassy plain, minding your own business, and the next you’re chasing a massive tentacle monster back the other way. Nier is peppered with breathtaking battles like that.

This fight goes on forever. Seriously.  (Screenshot: Square Enix) This fight goes on forever. Seriously. (Screenshot: Square Enix)

Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139…, out this week of PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, includes all of those things, except for ugly dad. The drama of the plot doesn’t hit quite the same way when you’re in control of spritely young brother Nier, but his youth is an energising factor. Playing the original game gave me serious old man vibes. If not for his daughter’s illness, daddy Nier would probably settle into a life of fishing, farming, and napping. He felt weary and tired.

Teen Nier squad all the way.  (Screenshot: Square Enix) Teen Nier squad all the way. (Screenshot: Square Enix)

Brother Nier feels like he possesses boundless energy, complementing the urgency of his quest. You really feel the difference later in the game, when the story time-skips five years into the future. Young Nier matures from waifish teen to buff young man. He gains the ability to use two-handed weapons. His voice changes from Zach Aguilar to Ray Chase. That’s much more fun than having an already old man become five years older. I speak from experience.

Young Nier’s sprightliness might also be an effect of the revamped combat. Overseen by Takashi Taura of PlatinumGames, the developer of Nier Automata, the remaster’s combat feels much more natural and fluid than the original game. In the new version players can lock-on to enemies, swap weapons on the fly, use magic while jumping, and charge magic while running about and attacking. Parrying and evading is much easier to pull off in the new game. It’s not quite Nier and not quite Nier Automata, but rather a lovely amalgamation of the two.

Impaling is magic. (Screenshot: Square Enix) Impaling is magic. (Screenshot: Square Enix)

Unfortunately, Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… borrows something much less savoury from Nier Automata. There’s an achievement in Nier Automata for attempting to peek up the skirt of main character 2B. Possibly inspired by that feat, the Nier Replicant remaster has a trophy called “Daredevil,” awarded for players who “risked life and limb 10 times to discover someone’s secret.” The someone being referred to is Nier’s scantily-clad companion Kainé, and the secret is the well-documented fact that she is intersex, born with a body that doesn’t fit the traditional definition of male or female.

Though I’ve not gotten the achievement myself, I confirmed how to earn it with George Yang, who reviewed the new game for GameSkinny and was the first person to earn the platinum trophy for the PS4 version. It indeed involves using the camera to try to peek at Kainé’s undergarments. Peek 10 times and Kainé will kill the player character, causing a “Game Over” and unlocking the achievement. It’s new to this version of the game, as it’s only achievable during the newly-added playthrough E.

I shouldn’t have to point out how bad this is. Turning one of my favourite characters, with a mouth as foul as her heart is big, into an object to gawk at in order to score invisible video game points is childish and offensive. The fact that Kainé is intersex makes the situation even worse. She’s not an oddity with a “secret” to discover. The fact that she murders anyone who earns the achievement does not help. Do better.

Same.  (Screenshot: Square Enix) Same. (Screenshot: Square Enix)

And so, while I do love the positive changes that make Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… so much better than the original, this one, majorly negative addition leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.

Comments

  • Ah, that’s a shame. I really liked the fact that we were playing an old man instead of the generic anime pretty-boy. The balance of generic anime pretty-boys to grizzled older guys in Japanese games is so lopsided the scales look pretty much vertical.

    (And yeah, that ‘achievement’ really shouldn’t have been brought into the present day.)

    • It’s worse than that – the achievement wasn’t brought into the present day, it was *invented* in the present day. Didn’t exist in the original. I’m truly gobsmacked that nobody at any point in the production/approval process called it out.

        • Why do you think Sony would be involved in the choice of trophies/achievements? This is a multiplatform game published by Square Enix, so it’s unlikely any bad publicity would rub off on one platform holder.

  • Interesting, was wondering if this was a re-release of the original game or something that wasn’t released at all. I still have the Nier PS3 release and if I do re-purchase this through steam I’ll be waiting until it’s a fraction of the price.

  • It’d be nice to think that the achievement for peeping is more in the nature of a scarlet letter, forever branding the peeper but it’s probably not excluded from the platinum trophy so plenty of completionists are going to have to just roll their eyes and get it done.

  • Ooogling the nieR:automata female character? ALL GOOD
    Ooogling at another character that happens to be Intersex? THIS IS THE MOST OFFENSIVE THING EVER

    You don’t want equality, You want special treatment.

    Males and females get similar treatment in video games, Why should someone who is Intersex be treated differently? Why are you treating Intersex people as fragile human beings with skin thinner than wet tissue paper?

    • Anyone who’d read the article would know that wasn’t what she was saying, so you’re just a liar who can’t be trusted to speak in good faith. Thanks for letting me know you’re not worth the effort.

      • Anyone who has seen the reviews/ reporting on both games would know the point I’m making.

        So either you’re a liar, Being willfully obtuse or you’re just a plain idiot and can’t be trusted to speak in good faith.

        Thanks for letting me know your opinions are not worth anything to the discussion.

    • How about you stop to consider for a second that being rewarded for perving on someone against their will (which is highlighted in the consequence and in the achievement description) to find their “secret” is reinforcing the awful and damaging notions that a) you are entitled to invade someone’s personal space, b) you are entitled to know someone’s biological sex and/or gender despite their wishes to keep it private, and c) that intersex phenotype is tantamount to a dirty little secret. It’s game-ifying outing someone. People literally get ridiculed, attacked and, in the worse case, murdered over this shit.

      Grow the fuck up and be a better person.

  • in this article criticising objectification you spend an uncomfortable amount of words on how the ugly old man doesnt appeal as much as a young boy

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