Nier: Automata could just be the most unique exclusive coming to the market in some time.
The recently released demo acts as a selection box of various gameplay styles and nods towards other genres. Developer Platinum Games are no stranger to this sort of thing. Their modern classic Bayonetta revels in old school concepts, set upon a modern canvas. Neir is a little more seamless in its approach, which is why it’s worth your attention.
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Platinum’s ability to create smooth combat mechanics is clearly on show from the beginning of the demo. Even with a limited move set (in context for the demo), each strike chains nicely into the ability to flow into something else. Evasion is achieved with a simple tap of the button, acting as a potential chain in a combo. Switching from offence to evasion, straight into counter-offence, is irresistibly smooth.
In a stroke of genius, Platinum has added a ranged attack that provides the spine for some of the demo’s most stand out moments. With the touch of the shoulder button, a stream of projectiles fire out. It may be low damage, but there’s a level of deceptive simplicity about it. Not only can it be used to defend the player from attack, but it also opens up a whole world of shoot-em-up mechanics.
Suddenly, Nier becomes a top down shooter. Weaving past enemy fire, taking down enemies, collecting their drops. It’s all one perfectly integrated switch to a totally different genre. The first time it happens you’re left a little confused, then it sinks in. Within the space of a 25 minute demo, Nier: Automata manages to show off three unique different styles of gameplay; hack and slash, shoot-em-up and 2D side scroller.
It’s undeniable that Platinum are being extremely bold in this approach. There’s a fair few risks in trying to have so much variation in one game, but in this case, it works. I can’t honestly sit here and say that Nier’s demo did not produce a giddy smirk or two. From the huge boss battles, to the clever touches littered throughout the experience, the whole thing is oozing with charm and character.
The Playstation 4 can count itself lucky, Nier: Automata seems like the real deal. An exclusive that could become a real asset to those seeking something different, offering something you can’t find on other consoles. Is it a niche game? Undeniable, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While we wait for a PC demo (and release date), every Playstation 4 owner owes it to themselves to at least try the demo out for themselves.