The new IPs continue to come out of Square-Enix, which is a nice change from them tossing out every Final Fantasy remake known to mankind for all handheld platforms, right? The latest new IP out of the RPG behemoth is Nier. What confuses most people about this title is that it is being marketed and released under two separate names on two different platforms in Japan. Let’s take a look at it and see if we can dispel that confusion.
Nier Gesalt and Nier Replicant are the two titles and they are both actually real games, although a bit different from each other. What is the difference and why do you care? For those of you in North America, Nier Gesalt is the one you are getting, and it will be known here simply as Nier. Nier Replicant is a PlayStation 3 exclusive to be released only in Japan, with a redesigned lead character who has a slightly different relationship with Yonah, a girl within the story. Why the two separate games? Cavia, the game’s developer, and apparently Square-Enix, decided that the more masculine Nier character would be a perfect fit for North American audiences, while the typically leaner and, for lack of a better word, more feminine, Nier from Replicant fits more with Japanese tastes. While both games will be released in Japan (Gesalt for the Xbox 360 and Replicant for the PS3), only one will be released in North America for both platforms, simply titled Nier (Gesalt). So, did I clear up the confusion or just add to it? Enough about the differences in the game versions, though. Let’s now take a look at what makes this game different and unique.
The game follows none other than our lead character, Nier, who is relentlessly looking for a cure to the Black Scrawl virus, an affliction that has taken over his little sister, Yonah. Just like in any other RPG of its nature, Nier will team up with a rowdy band of characters along the way to his goal, including Kaine (not an unusual name for an RPG character, by any means), who is a hermaphrodite. This character is quite controversial, but I’m unsure how it plays into the story, if it does at all. Nier also has a partner in the form of a talking grimoire (book), which helps him cast magic spells and just provides general companionship. Yes, a talking book. In a down and dirty action RPG. Go figure.
The battle in Nier is very action-oriented RPG fare. In fact, I would go so far to say that is more action game than RPG, from what I’ve seen and read, but final analysis of this can only come once the game ships and I get my hands on it. Nier is a swordsman, and uses that as his primary weapon, however as stated before, he does have help in the form of other companions, most notably the talking book, which casts your typical RPG magic spells at your enemies. All in all, it seems battle is fairly simple, and you can perform actions in real-time. Whether or not it is Ninja Gaiden “real-time” or Kingdom Hearts “real-time” is unknown at the moment.
The most notable thing about this title is how mature it is, which is a departure from most JRPGs that come out of Square-Enix. The entire tone is darker and grittier, and the main protagonist, at least for the Western version of the game, isn’t your typical JRPG pretty boy. Will this draw more Western gamers – who are obsessed with bulky, bald soldiers – into a Japanese-style RPG? Demon’s Souls surprised everyone in the gaming industry when it did so well over the last nine months or so, so there is the possibility of Nier doing equally as well for similar reasons (although I doubt the difficulty will match). Only time will tell. We might get a glimpse of if this game will go over well or be lost in the bowels of the gaming toilet next week. Nier ships on April 27, 2010 for both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in North America.
I’ve included one of the latest launch trailers for the game below, so check it out and see what you think.