EDIT: At E3, Square-Enix surprised even me with their reveal to another entry in the mythos of NiER.
NiER is probably a game that your JRPG loving friend who is also a fan of game of thrones will fervently tell you to play. If a person has played and beaten this game, chances are he or she will tell you to play it and never explain why as to risk avoiding spoilers. But, why is he/she telling you to play this game?
Without spoiling, I will tell you what NiER is and why it is such an beloved game in the hearts of those whose hearts it ripped apart.
NiER is a game with a breathing yet somehow small world that is riddled with death and sadness as well as joy and celebration. It has a sadness reminiscent to Dark Souls, or should I say Dark Souls is reminiscent to it? This game not only came out a year before Dark Souls, but unlike Dark Souls this game actually made me feel something. I felt a LOT of something from this game.
Papa NiER is a strong, hot headed and capable father who is aloof as he is loving and as blood thirsty as he is compassionate. Papa NiER, or NiER is a father to Yonah, a lovable little girl who the game will literally force you to care about and you will neither care nor be annoyed at the method in which they do.
NiER is constantly working his well-muscled fingers to the bone, but never seems to scrape up the necessary cash to feed and medicate his sick daughter. Luckily the village is charitable and never ceases to have work for him.
The lovable and adorable daughter of NiER who seems to be made of sugar, spice and everything nice. Yonah suffers from a seemingly incurable disease known as the Black Scrawl. This disease is killing her and makes her weak, still that does not stop her from setting off in a dangerous area filled with monsters known as shades to find a flower that is rumored to somehow cure her disease.
She does this just so she can be healed and so her papa won’t have to worry about her anymore. During the short loading screens Yonah’s written journal entries always reveal a little about Yonah.
Revealing how she tries to cook for her father, how much she loves him, wishes he would come home sooner, and it just makes you care about her.
The Enigmatic, snarky, quick-witted, likable, magic, flying, talking book whose ego is only surpassed by his voice performance by Liam O’brien. Weiss and NiER meet when NiER is out on an excursion looking for artifacts or medicine that will cure his daughter. He finds shades and gets to killing. However, after a long bout of killing, finds himself heavily outmatched. Weiss insists NiER make a pact with him and their partnership begins. Weiss offers a wit that is reminiscent of Tyrion Lannister along the journey, he is cordial and gives NiER direction to his purpose of continuing the adventure via their pact and partnership. Weiss has no memory of himself, but he knows of these things called “Sealed Verses” which will restore his memory and potentially cure Yonah. He frequently butts heads with Kaine, throwing snyde remarks at her, often referring to her as a hussy. Needless to say, Weiss’s snark narcissism and Kaine’s brash and hot-head cause them to but heads fervently throughout the story.
Kaine, the foul-mouthed, brash, bold, murderous, hussy with a heart of gold, Ms. Fanservice of NiER. Kaine has a troubled and dark past and holds not one, but two secrets in front of a door of hidden depths of character. She may curse like a sailor, she may murder shades and sometimes even people at the drop of a hat, but she is compassionate and loving and her kind heart has no trouble surfacing.
The boy with cursed eyes who is a pen pal to Yonah, much to papa NiER’s disapproval. Emil resides in the surreal haunted mansion. You think there is something sinister about him because when you arrive at the mansion, the outside of the area is intentionally shaded monochrome, contrasting with the fields beyond it. (This is actually a cameo / shout out to an earlier entry in the game’s lore and a secret that you will find out if you read Grimoire NiER.) Truthfully, he is a sweet and gentle young man whose eyes will turn anything he looks at into stone.
However, there is more to him and his home than anybody bargained for, and waiting for him is a destiny both better and worse than death.
Deovla and Popola
The two twins of the town NiER lives in. Popola runs the city and is the de-facto leader whom is wise, well-traveled and in touch with the people in the world. Devola is the town singer who plays the background song of the town on her lute. Popola is not afraid of making hard choices, and this may prevent friendships and love from blossoming within the city when it comes to papa NiER. But, she feels for the plight of others and will always do what she can to help NiER while making sure that the town’s interest is kept. Devola helps her sister and plays as a bard at the inn and practices outside in the lush green gardens in her spare time.
The young, loyal, steadfast citizen of the kingdom of Facade. Fyra was saved by Kaine from a pack of wolves, the kingdom of facade’s hated enemies. Ever since then, they have welcomed Kaine with open arms. Fyra acts as your humble guide to temple of drifting sands to assist the king whom she worships and admires. Fyra carries love, admiration and scars behind her mask.
The enigmatic, frightening and sometimes hideous creatures that serve as the antagonists of this game. Shades are shrouded in mystery. When you slash or kill them, blood erupts from their bodies. When they die, words flow out of them and an inaudible phrase is heard and flies into Grimoire Weiss. Weiss and the shades have a connection, but what is this connection? Perhaps you should take a page from Dark Souls and find your own answers.
This is not some save the world, or hero save the princess (his daughter) story. This game’s story is dark. People you care about will die, you will come to care about and sympathize with people you did not know you would bother caring about.
Horribly sad things will happen during sidequests, NiER will have you discover things about NiER and company that will steal water from your eyes, and lock your throat with emotions. It is a game shining like a diamond in the rough. It is a game where you slaughter hordes of the bad guys. But then it has you questioning who the bad guys really are after all was said and done. It is a game that will make you cringe at the true reward for slaughter upon slaughter.
Because bitch, Imperfect Cell drinks people. But, Yoko Taro drinks your tears (When he is allowed to be the head writer....Looking at YOU Drakengard 3!)
NiER’s world is a world that is reminiscent to Lordren of Dark Souls in scale. The world’s cities and locations are closely connected, so close in fact that it makes you question if there is even a world beyond this and the big blue ocean beyond the city of commerce. The world seems so small, that it is almost unbelievable as true cities are much bigger than this. But perhaps there is a reason for this, perhaps this world is somewhat small in scale according to Yoko Taro’s design....Or perhaps.......
The music of NiER is typically sang by Emi Evans EDIT:(Yes, the woman who does the Nameless Song at the end of Dark Souls.) and is possibly the greatest point of this game. The music of NiER is not particularly dark our haunting, but it is melancholy and bright at the same time.