NieR:Automata Game of the YoRHa Edition Review
We are perpetually trapped in a never-ending spiral of life and death.
One of the best games from the past few years is 2017’s surprise hit NieR:Automata. The game took developer PlatinumGames’ mastery of the action game genre and mixed it with the twisted mind of director Yoko Taro to deliver something truly special. Since its release, the game has sold 3.5 million copies and characters have gained enough popularity to justify crossing over into other series, such as SoulCalibur and Gravity Rush, with a collaboration with Final Fantasy XIV planned for later this year. Now, two years after its initial release, NieR:Automata is back with the definitive version of the game, the Game of the YoRHa Edition.
The NieR:Automata Game of the YoRHa Edition isn’t so much a game itself as much as it is a bundle comprised of all of the previously released NieR:Automata content all in one package available for a reduced price. So in this review I’ll be covering each piece of content that this edition of the game includes, briefly recapping what makes each edition to the game great before finally giving my impressions of the Game of the YoRHa Edition as a whole.
First, there’s the base game. There isn’t much more to be said about NieR:Automata that hasn’t already been said in the two years since its original release, so I’ll just go over the main points here.
It’s kind of hard to figure out where to begin with this game since there’s so much to discuss. But I suppose we should go into its presentation first, since that is the first thing any player will notice. NieR:Automata doesn’t have the biggest open world imaginable, nor does it have the most immaculate graphics you’ve ever seen. However, it doesn’t have to. The world is large without being overwhelming and offers a variety of locations that all bring life to the world in their own way. From the city ruins to the forest kingdom to the desert to the amusement park, traveling throughout the world of the game never gets boring. Plus, the game’s amazing soundtrack will always be there to pull the player in, regardless of whether the tone it’s setting is calming, aggressive, or heart-breaking.
It is an experience unlike any other.
The lore of NieR:Automata is unquestionably one of its best features, as it goes very deep and constantly offers up new, interesting details that expand on whatever the player already knows. Every side quest, every key item, and every optional piece of dialogue keep the player invested in this world, as well as keeping them wanting to learn more.
And who could talk about NieR:Automata without mentioning its gameplay? The fast-paced, flashy action that PlatinumGames is known for is fit perfectly into the game, keeping action interesting and exciting throughout. But there’s so much more to the gameplay than just action. For one thing, the very genre of the game often changes, usually resembling an action-RPG, but sometimes drifting over to a bullet-hell or side-scrolling beat ’em up or retro top-down shooter style. The RPG elements of the game also work brilliantly. Grinding is never really necessary, but fun to partake in should you choose to, due to the natural fun of the core gameplay. Plug-in Chips provide a great way to customize your gameplay experience to whatever is most enjoyable for you, including the option to have playable characters act automatically in case you just want to experience the game’s story. Also, the fact that many gameplay mechanics, such as saving, equipping skills, and even dying, exist within the world of the game itself, and not just in the meta space of it being a video game, help immerse the player even more – not to mention it’s just clever and cool.
Arguably the main attraction of NieR:Automata, however, is its narrative. If you’ve never played the game before, then you should know that its story takes place over the course of three “playthroughs,” each of which basically act as their own story campaigns. One potential criticism of the game is that it can take a while to get really into the narrative. The first playthrough, or Route A, is mostly about setting up the world, lore, and characters. That’s not to say it doesn’t have an interesting story, but I wouldn’t be surprised if many people’s first impressions of the game, based on their Route A playthrough, is that it is a fun game with excellent gameplay, some interesting lore, and characters who are likable enough. Of course, spending more time with this first route by taking the time to fully explore areas, take on a number of side quests, etc. will build the player’s appreciation for the game, but it’s likely that upon achieving Ending A, the player will feel satisfied with this quirky science-fiction adventure, but might feel a bit disappointed in its lack of true depth, especially considering how critically acclaimed the game is.
However, after finishing Route A, your journey has only just begun. Once the credits role, continuing from your save file, rather than starting a new game, will start you on Route B, which follows the same story as Route A, but has you experiencing the events of that story from the perspective of a different character. This has its pros and cons. On the plus side, there are several side quests, items, and even some areas that can only be accessed by the character you play as in Route B, which gives the player reason to explore the world again. However, taking the time to explore the same world that you just thoroughly explored in Route A can definitely feel tedious and will likely lead to many players rushing through Route B faster to try to get to things they haven’t seen before. The big thing that Route B provides is being able to see the events of Route A from a different perspective, which manifests itself in different ways. Sometimes, you’ll just get a glimpse into the world that wasn’t available in Route A, adding more depth to the lore and narrative you thought you were familiar with. In fact, there are occasionally huge chunks of new information that you’ll find in Route B that will completely change the way you look at the events of the story. Though I would argue that all of the Route B-exclusive content makes playing through the story again worth it, the fact still remains that probably about 80% of what you experience in Route B will be more or less the same as what you already experienced in Route A, so this entire second campaign can often feel like a lull. Also, the character that you play as in Route B plays differently from the Route A character, so if you prefer the playstyle of the Route A character, playing as the Route B character is another thing that could contribute to playing through Route B being a bit of a pain.
The final scenario…is one of the most emotional and powerful moments in not only video game history, but in the history of entertainment as a whole.
But then there’s Route C/D, the third campaign, and this is where things get serious. At this point in the game, there’s already a lot to appreciate about it, from its interesting lore to fun gameplay to engrossing soundtrack. However, you might feel that there is a lack of truly emotional storytelling going on. The story presented in Routes A and B were fun and interesting, but maybe didn’t feel the most emotionally investing. Plus, whenever the story did attempt to introduce more emotional storytelling, it often felt a bit out of place, like the emotional investment the characters have with one another, and the emotional investment the game is asking the player to have with the characters, isn’t entirely earned. But this all changes with Route C/D.
I don’t want to talk about Route C/D too much since there are so many spoiler-worthy moments in it, but I do want to say a few things. Firstly, unlike Route B, Route C/D is its own completely new story that basically acts as a sequel to the story told in Routes A and B, which is an awesome concept and totally blew my mind the first time I played NieR:Automata. The philosophical themes of the game continue to deepen in this route, exploring subjects like violence, war, death, prejudice, one’s sense of self, purpose, and existence. I also want to state that the sheer amount of narrative and lore twists in Route C/D is amazing and gets the player invested in the story and characters so much more than they would have thought. Suddenly, everything starts to pay off. The player likely came to like the characters after Route A, with the second trip through this story in Route B solidifying the player’s emotional attachment to the characters, but you won’t realize just how much these characters actually mean to you until Route C/D. Plus, all of the emotional moments that felt a bit out of place during Routes A and B suddenly make much more sense after Route C/D, expanding the player’s emotional investment in the game even further. This all culminates in the final scenario of Route E, which is one of the most emotional and powerful moments in not only video game history, but in the history of entertainment as a whole.
All in all, NieR:Automata is a wonderful game and, although it may drag a bit in the middle, it is an experience unlike any other and one that I would whole-heartedly recommend to everyone. It’s also worth mentioning that you do not have to have played the first NieR to appreciate this game. Playing the first game will help you appreciate the Easter Eggs and references to it, but you definitely do not need to be familiar with it to thoroughly enjoy Automata.
The Game of the YoRHa Edition also comes packaged with NieR:Automata‘s single pack of DLC, called “3C3C1D119440927.” This DLC adds a number of things to the game, most notably three new areas through which the rest of the DLC’s content can be unlocked. These three new areas are called Arenas and all three present challenges for the player to test their skills at combat in different ways. These various challenges are fun and offer challenges for players looking to push themselves, including some “Special” challenges that are virtually impossible in difficulty.
This DLC is pretty much just for fun and certainly isn’t necessary to the main story or anything.
Each arena has seven ranks of challenges, including the Special challenges, with different rewards available to the player depending on the level of challenge they are able to overcome. (Don’t worry, the rewards for completing the nearly impossible Special challenges aren’t even worth it and are basically just for bragging rights.) Most of the rewards players will earn from the various challenges are cosmetics, such as hair dyes or alternate costumes that resemble the outfits worn by various characters from the first NieR. These various cosmetic changes are a fun way to change things up a bit, especially if you plan on spending the 70+ hours necessary to 100% the game, but most of them don’t do anything in terms of actual gameplay, so you shouldn’t feel obligated to unlock them all if you don’t feel up to the challenge.
After completing all the challenges in all the arenas (except the Special challenges), you’ll gain access to a new area that will present the player with a new story. This short story puts the player in the shoes of a machine, giving some insight into what that life is like. This is an insight that was explored to some degree in the main game, but this DLC definitely helps expand on how limited and pathetic the existences of machines are.
Lastly, the 3C3C1D119440927 DLC also allows the player to take on the CEOs of Square Enix and PlatinumGames in combat, which is hilarious and awesome.
Overall, the 3C3C1D119440927 DLC provides some fun extra things to do in the world of NieR:Automata, as well as further expanding on the lore, which is always appreciated. However, this DLC is pretty much just for fun and certainly isn’t necessary to the main story or anything. Those who were big fans of the base game will be happy to have some more stuff to do, but I can also see a lot of people who are more concerned with the main story (or just simply aren’t attracted to the idea of more difficult challenges) deciding to skip out on the DLC. However, since it’s included in the Game of the YoRHa Edition anyway, it’s certainly worth at least checking out.
The last thing that the Game of the YoRHa Edition contains aside from the base game and 3C3C1D119440927 DLC are a number of bonuses. Many of these (Cardboard Pod Skin, Retro Red Pod Skin, Retro Grey Pod Skin, Grimoire Weiss Pod Skin, and Machine Mask Accessory) were originally pre-order bonuses for NieR:Automata, so although they’re entirely cosmetic, it’s cool that those who may have missed out on the opportunity to get these Pod Skins and Accessory through pre-order have a chance to get them now. There are also some platform-exclusive cosmetics, with those who get the PS4 version of the Game of the YoRHa Edition getting the amazarashi Head Pod Skin and the previously pre-order-exclusive Play System Pod Skin, while those who get the PC version of the game will receive the previously pre-order-exclusive Valve Accessory.
Aside from these cosmetics that were previously only attainable through pre-ordering the original game, the Game of the YoRHa Edition also comes with a few new bonuses. PC players will receive new wallpapers and PS4 players will get 15 PlayStation Network Avatars and a new PS4 Theme.
While all these bonuses are cool to have…it would be hard for me to recommend purchasing the Game of the YoRHa Edition just for the bonuses.
While all these bonuses are cool to have, especially for mega-fans of the game, none of them have an actual function, so it would be hard for me to recommend purchasing the Game of the YoRHa Edition just for the bonuses if someone already owns the base game and 3C3C1D119440927 DLC. Unless you’re someone who just has to have the exclusive PS4 Theme or something, it would probably be best to not spend $40 on a bundle filled mostly with content you already have.
NieR:Automata remains one of the greatest games of this generation, if not of all time. And with all of the game’s content available in one complete package (for a price that’s almost half of what it would cost to buy the base game and DLC separately), there’s no excuse to not check it out now. If you’re someone who already owns the game, however, the Game of the YoRHa Edition doesn’t offer much for you to justify buying it again.
Nier: Automata Game of the Yorha Edition
- Available On: Xbox One, PS4, PC
- Published By: Square Enix
- Developed By: Platinum Games
- Genre: Action RPG
- US Release Date: February 26th, 2019
- Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
- Quote: "NieR:Automata remains one of the greatest games of this generation, if not of all time. And with all of the game's content available in one complete package, there's no excuse to not check it out now. If you're someone who already owns the game, however, the Game of the YoRHa Edition doesn't offer much for you to justify buying it again."