Episode 13: NieR

NieR is an odd experience; more shocking than its off-the-wall story is how much I like NieR. Very rarely do I enjoy a game when I find its gameplay to be subpar. NieR suffers from repetitive, shallow combat and the extensive use of fetch quests, among other things. However, what makes NieR special is its world, characters and story. You ultimately don't care that the same environments are reused repeatedly or that text adventures have no place in an action RPG; instead your only concerns are Emil's past, restoring Kaine and rescuing your daughter.

On paper I should dislike NieR and rationally I understand that, but at some point NieR was able to captivate me with its charm. NieR is one of a kind, a series of experiments mashed together that somehow succeeds in spite of itself. This will never be a game that will make my annual must-replay list but I can honestly say that NieR is one of my favorite experiences of the Xbox 360 generation.


NieR is by no means a perfect game. It's an amalgamation of all sorts of genres with sections that mimic roguelikes, text adventures, and platformers, all with an undercurrent of pure wall-to-wall action RPG running through it. It never quite masters any of these traits, with slightly clunky combat and some boring and repetitive sidequests which require you to trawl back to each area. Its lack of budget shows, yet NieR has something many games struggle to achieve nowadays — it has heart and bleeds character.

NieR's twisted world had me hooked from the prologue right to the end, perfectly padding out its story and offering me additional tidbits of information as I went along. I've never felt more invested and excited in a world than I did with NieR's; The game feels so different from anything else I've experienced and really comes into its own in its storytelling, and letting the world speak for itself. But amongst all the madness, it centers on a father's quest to save his daughter, and the lengths he will go to protect her. This emotional tug grounds the game and gives it a heart, while the art direction, intricate plot, and outstanding musical score gives NieR a flair which no other game can claim to share. It's a shame this game has been forgotten by so many — it's a tale that shook me to the core and one I still think about weeks after finishing the game. Though it won't be to everyone's liking, I believe everybody should have the chance to experience this rough diamond just to see what a great piece of story telling can do for a game.


What a strange title NieR is. I had always heard disappointed rumblings about this odd RPG, and now having walked around in the world of NieR, the complaints make sense: it's a character action RPG where the combat is sticky and at times unresponsive. The game jumps between various types of gameplay in order to explore the world, one moment a 2D platformer, then a text adventure for every sequence in a town (not to mention the incredibly dull and empty overworld filled with the most basic of tireless fetch quests). Yet even with these flaws, I needed to complete NieR's journey, compelled to reunite father and daughter. Because while incredibly flawed, NieR also happens to be a game bursting with character. The atmosphere of oppression and helplessness works with the seemingly empty world. The incredible orchestrations underscore the bizarre and unexpected realities of this far future tale, and at the center of this fascinating and weird world are our protagonists, whose lives are changed by their travels. Emil, NieR, Kaine, and others along the way are all fantastic: Their journey is not exactly a happy one, but my god was I happy to experience it.

NieR is that rare gem of a game that is bursting at the seams with ideas, and while it leaves most of them unfinished, it's a very special game. One that stays with you long after the credits roll and beckons you to discover more about its world, to watch another ending. And I probably will.


NieR has a bizarre and uncompromising tone that it fully commits to, making it one of the most intriguing games I've ever played. It's fairly low-budget for a last-gen Square Enix title, and its hodgepodge game mechanics are largely cribbed from other franchises, but its unique, well-written story and interesting characters really bring the whole experience together. Plus, the music is phenomenal, and I've been listening to the soundtrack pretty much constantly ever since my first playthrough. It's been a blast revisiting this weird little gem and hearing the Retro crew's reactions to it. And, last but not least, his name is Grimoire Weiss, you you will refer to him with the proper respect!

Final Thoughts Archive
Episode 1: Trails in the Sky Episode 2: Final Fantasy X Episode 3: Final Fantasy Tactics Episode 4: The Last Story Episode 5: Terranigma Episode 6: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Episode 7: Deus Ex: Human Revolution Episode 8: Parasite Eve Episode 9: Pokémon Episode 13: NieR Episode 14: The World Ends With You Episode 15: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask Episode 16: Xenogears Episode 17: South Park: The Stick of Truth Episode 18: Valkyria Chronicles Episode 19: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc Episode 20: Child of Light Episode 21: Diablo III Episodes 70 & 71: Shadow Hearts: Covenant Episodes 73 & 75: Chrono Trigger Episodes 79 & 81: Tales of the Abyss Episodes 82 & 83: Darksiders Episodes 86 & 88: Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride Episodes 90 & 92: EarthBound Episodes 95 & 97: Grim Fandango Episodes 101 & 102: Final Fantasy XII Episodes 104 & 106: Digital Devil Saga Episodes 114 & 116: Breath of Fire IV Episodes 122 & 124: Valkyrie Profile Episodes 126 & 128: Planescape: Torment Episodes 135 & 137: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars Episodes 140 & 142: Mass Effect Episodes 143 & 144: Lunar: The Silver Star Episodes 145 & 146: Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Episodes 141 & 151: Shadow Hearts Episodes 153 & 155: Suikoden II Episodes 156 & 157: Mega Man Legends Episodes 158 & 159: Mega Man Legends 2 Episodes 161 & 162: Golden Sun Episodes 165 & 166: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors Episodes 170 & 172: Kingdom Hearts Episodes 176 & 177: Tales of Vesperia Episodes 179 & 181: Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals Episodes 183 & 184: Ys: The Oath in Felghana

Twitch Schedule & Status

April 28: TBA • 10am PDT/1pm EDT
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past w/ Mark • 1pm PDT/4pm EDT

Suikoden II w/Maxx • 12pm PDT/3pm EDT
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker's Memory w/Kat • 4pm PDT/7pm EDT

Final Fantasy VIII w/Kyle • 3pm PDT/6pm EDT
Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga w/Scott • 7pm PDT/10pm EDT

Mass Effect 2 w/Nathan • 10am PDT/1pm EDT
Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga w/Scott • 7pm PDT/10pm EDT

Tales of Vesperia - Definitive Edition w/Kat • 4pm PDT/7pm EDT
Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga w/Scott • 7pm PDT/10pm EDT

Super Robot Wars X w/Kyle • 3pm PDT/6pm EDT
Final Fantasy XIV Online w/Scott • 7pm PDT/10pm EDT

Final Fantasy XIV Online w/Scott • 3pm PDT/6pm EDT

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