Hello there my good friends and welcome to Quillstreak’s GOTY Christmas countdown. We asked our Twitter followers and our staff to list their top games of 2017. Each day we’re dropping one of the final five with the GOTY being revealed on Christmas Day. Each one could have been Game of the Year in its own right if the competition didn’t exist. Basically, 2017 has been great for games. Here goes.
Androids. Existence. Baby Robot Kings. Nauseau. Humans on the Moon.
Are you still with me? If so, you’ve probably heard of NieR Automata. Developed by Platinum Games, published by Square Enix, and helmed by crazy auteur Yoko Taro, this is a hack n slash with questions to ask.
The game is a follow up to 2010’s Nier, itself a spinoff from the fifth ending to Drakengard 3, where a fighter jet killed the main characters after they defeated a huge stone beast that appeared in 2003 Tokyo. But don’t worry about it. I didn’t play any of the previous games either.
The beast dissolved into Maso particles which caused a mass extinction event, so they started like… separating human bodies from their souls to preserve them, which in turn made a whole bunch of demons appear and they sent the final hope of humanity to the moon. There’s a cult in there somewhere too.
You play as 2B, an android from the YoRha unit developed to fight the machines who have took over the earth after they killed some aliens and now they’re adopting some human traits and everything is weird and scary. But basically, they’re the bad guys. You’re not human, but you’re fighting to save humanity. Stop asking questions!
You can identify a bunch of disconnects and space for discourse in the past two paragraphs, and I’m being terribly vague to keep the twists from you. This is where NieR shines.
Whilst on the surface you could think of it as a narrative that isn’t cohesive or fails to understand itself, just throwing the ish at the wall and seeing what sticks.
Alas, no, NieR Automata somehow deals with each life-questioning theme gracefully, and the emotion and ideas that the game provokes out of its player acquiesce way beyond the screen.
The game has similar candour to the romantically written existential novels of the 20th century that inspired it, and it uses its medium to expand and evaluate some of the questions Sartre, Hegel and Nietzsche left us with.
For the sheer magnitude of the narrative, the gameplay is way better than it has any right to be, and I bow down to the developers for their affinity for constantly innovative fighting that is so deeply satisfying.
This is complemented by the excellent customizable OS chip allowing you to fine-tune your android with abilities, threading the narrative into the gameplay, something potent in your every step through Automata’s beautifully designed post-apocalyptic environment.
And it wouldn’t be fair to wrap this up without talking about this games gorgeous score. From the youthful robotic pleas of Pascal’s Village to the emotionally steeped keys of City Ruins, this game’s music is a divine treat from above, one to make the eyes misty.
NieR Automata will make you laugh, cry, look for meaning and ponder your own existence. Everybody has been talking about it just out of earshot, and there’s a reason for that. Go in blind and enjoy this game over the holidays, and your soul will be better for it.