Nier: Replicant really got me thinking. The game has an excellent story, with plot twists, rug pulls and tears aplenty. It's got a memorable group of characters, including including the stuck-up talking book Grimoire Weiss, the scantily clad badass Kaine, and the lovable sweetheart Emil. The new version has redone combat that is flashy and kinetic, if a bit repetitive. And the music! It goes without saying at this point, but the music is incredible at providing melody, atmosphere and emotion as you work your way through the game. But there's only one problem- the game is incredibly tedious and repetitive....by design.
You'll spend much of Nier: Replicant doing the same things you've already done. Traversing the same open levels, following the same route, fighting the same enemies, even doing the same quests. This was fine the first few times, since I played Nier: Automata before, I kind of knew what I was in for. But the repetition goes so much further in Replicant than it ever goes in Automata, to the point where it is actively frustrating and not the least bit fun. I often found myself sitting down in front of my monitor to play Replicant, but always wanting to do something else instead of going to the Junk Heap for the 57th time. So much of Replicant is not fun, which seems to go against the very idea you're playing a video game, right? Well....kind of. I hate to leave this blog on a cliffhanger, but I'm recording a discussion episode literally tomorrow about this very topic...inspired by this very game. So you'll have to wait until May to hear that full discussion, but for now it'll suffice to say that yes, in the moment, playing Replicant was frustrating and not fun for long stretches of time. However, I think that it was done with purpose, and when you take into account what the game is trying to say with its many endings...it makes sense for the game to be as tedious as it is. Whether it was all worth it will be up to each individual player, but it worked for me in the end.
Joining me to discuss the story, characters and gameplay is none other than Brian Edwards! You may have heard Brian on the wonderful Character Issues and Cane and Rinse podcasts. Cane and Rinse was one of the biggest inspirations for this podcast, doing extremely detailed and thoughtful deep dive retrospectives on video games, and Character Issues is a very fun and extremely scientific quest to rank every video game character, from best to worst. Brian is a wonderful person and I loved this conversation with him- you should check out Character Issues and Cane and Rinse by following the links!
You can listen to episode 66 of Tales from the Backlog (Nier: Replicant) in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!