I reviewed Nier on this blog back in 2011.

At the time I was sixteen, and M-rated games were a new, vast world for me to explore. I remember the first three Mature games that impacted me: Red Dead Revolver; 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors; and Nier. Red Dead was the first Mature game I owned, period. 999 was the first I played that felt deserving of its rating. As for Nier, well, Nier became special.

It’s funny, I gave the game a 7.5 (good) score at the time. However, Nier is the one of the games I look back on most fondly from that time in my life. I don’t remember Red Dead almost at all, and though I have great memories of 999, I’m not exactly rushing to replay it. Nier, even if it took time me six and a half years to revisit, is a game that constantly remains on my mind. I have the soundtrack on my iPod, it’s always on the tip of my tongue when someone wants game recommendations, and I think, over time, I’ve built it up enough to where I remember liking it more than I actually did.

Since that initial blog post, I’ve finished high school and graduated college. In that time, I’ve played many games on many systems, and I’ve found my tastes have changed. Back in high school, I prided myself on being a versatile gamer, willing to play almost everything (except most sports and PC games). While I still retain a lot of that spirit, I don’t try to collect every game anymore. I now try to seek out games I feel would fit my sensibilities; that I’d find interesting. With school and jobs, I’ve had to manage my time so that while I play less games overall, I usually play the ones that fit that mold. But what interests me - what is the mold I look for? When I ask myself what that is, I find myself going back and saying “something like Nier.”

Of course I don’t mean literally – though Nier has become one of my favorite games, there are still aspects of it that are annoying. Some graphical and gameplay elements feel janky, and the fetch quests can still be boring. What I mean, I think, when I want something like Nier, is something that feels authored – your Metal Gear Solids, or your other games made by bigshot creative directors with a unique style. I’m talking about the games that take risks, play with expectations, and have fun with themselves. Maybe they follow a formula, maybe they don’t. Concept-wise, originality doesn’t matter – it’s the presentation that counts.

Nier has that special authorial touch. It’s not afraid to turn one dungeon into an isometric crawler, or other sections into text adventures. The game even asks to delete your save file after viewing the fourth and final ending. Back when I was in high school, I didn’t properly appreciate these aspects. I may have said I did, but I was wrong. As I admitted in my original review, I didn’t go beyond the second ending. I was too afraid to – the thought of losing all that progress did not sit well with me.

Maybe it’s because I’m a lover of cinema and video games alike that I crave that certain strain of difference and risk-taking. Maybe I’m just a hipster. But I see this element in other games like Wolfenstein: The New Order, in how it shows you the horrors of the Nazis in a way most other games have shied away from. I also see it in games with interesting backstories and weird turns in development; From Sleeping Dogs cancellation and rebirth, to Rodea the Sky Soldier floating back to life, long after its best and more ignored version (on the Wii) almost went unreleased.

I commented on the strange backstory of Nier’s development too, back then. But, I’ll be honest, I didn’t have the best context. I would not have appreciated the game’s LGBT themes until some time later. I also didn’t realize the importance the younger version of Nier (the main character) had on the story in the other, exclusive Japanese version of the game. I was so fascinated to be playing as a father trying to save his daughter. I wish that the planned Vita version, which would have combined elements of both games, had come out after all. But who knows, maybe that version will one day be reworked for the Switch.

None of this is to say that I don’t stand by what I said about the game back then. I just think it’s interesting to see how tastes have changed over the years, from my teens to my early twenties. I feel like the game is worth addressing again, especially now, with a sequel released, Nier Automata, that has gone on to the financial and critical acclaim I feel the first Nier deserved.

Things are different now. Cavia, the studio that made Nier, is long gone. The Nier franchise has been swept up in a wave of other Japanese franchises that are finally getting their due. I’ve grown older, I’ve played much more, and I’ve experienced a lot since I wrote that original piece. It’s nice to go back and remember when Nier was just one of those titles that came out on the PS3, just as it’s nice to remember what it was like to play and review it.

I’ll still defend what I said then, even if I disagree with it, but if I can tighten up the facts I glossed over and explain them better, then I’ll be serving everyone who reads this better. You deserve it. Go on, please play Nier.


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