Big monsters, cataclysms, magic, dragons, robots, an incurable disease, the death of the human race, despair, a brother who is trying to save his sister … I can continue this list. Today we will talk about the amazing and original world of the game NieR: RepliCant ver.1.22474487139 , which was released on April 23 on PC and consoles. Technically, this is a remaster of the 2010 video game of the same name (well, almost – before there were no numbers in the title). From the point of view of the plot, it is a prequel to the sensational NieR: Automata a couple of years ago.
Created by Japanese game designer Yoko Taro, the games in the series have left a deep mark on the history of video games and in the hearts of players. But what about those who recently met NieR? What do we know about this gaming universe? Perhaps too little, although it deserves attention and the release of the updated RepliCant is a good reason to remember how it all began and figure out the details. Be careful, there are many spoilers in the text for all games in the series except for NieR: RepliCant itself – we will only talk about the plot of the plot.
In the beginning was Drakengard
The NieR series has its origins in the Drakengard trilogy, also known as Drag-On Dragoon in Japan.
According to a fictional story, in 856 a strong and large-scale earthquake occurred, as a result of which a time gap was formed and a transition to a parallel world opened on the planet. Magic, dragons and terrible monsters came from the portal to our world. Soon, the latter took over the planet and killed many people. Those who survived were forced to hide in small shacks away from the remains of a lost civilization. Two hundred years later, two warring factions were formed: “Alliance” and “Empire”. People waged war with each other for four seals. According to legend, these artifacts held back the “Cult of the Observers” – humanoid giants with white skin, possessing incredible power and capable of instantly exterminating those who survived the past cataclysm and the invasion of monsters.
The protagonist of Drakengard is a young man named Kaim, he fought on the side of the “Alliance” and was desperately trying to find and save his sister. Fatally wounded and trying to survive, he made a magical deal with the dragon, giving up the ability to speak in return. In the finale of the game, Kaim and the dragon fight the Queen – the supreme ruler of the cult and end up in Tokyo in 2003. Modern by our standards, Japan meets the heroes with a surprise attack from the army. The battle opens another time gap, the consequence of which is the mysterious incurable disease “White chlorination syndrome” (WHS). The flesh of those infected with CBC is chlorinated and they go crazy, become aggressive. Our world is plunging into chaos and all infected are called “Legion”.
In an attempt to understand and overcome what is happening, people create a scientific initiative “Gestalt”. After a while, scientists managed to study SBC and identify the pathogen that causes the disease – mysterious particles. The new substance was named “Maso”. With the help of particles, people have learned to slow down the SBC disease, separate the soul from the body and create modified people, much stronger and more physically developed. Dangerous experiments yielded impressive results and the “production” of superhumans was put on stream.
The crown of creation was the replicants – soulless artificial bodies, but physically strong and alive, capable of conscious actions and deeds. With their help, people planned to survive the crisis and seal human souls, and after defeating the Legion, humanity planned to return to normal life in the Replicant shell. The plan failed when the Replicants gained their own will and independent thinking. Souls separated from the body (Gestalts) remained restless and wandered in the form of shadows on the wreckage of the destroyed world. The replicants considered the Gestalts to be their enemies and they can be understood, because initially the latter were supposed to occupy their bodies.
The instability of both types led to an exacerbation of the conflict, and the need to avoid new disasters and take control of this whole crazy story formed the basis of a full-fledged spin-off of the Drakengard trilogy.
NieR is a new game and a new hero
NieR: RepliCant begins in 2053. Two children, a boy and a girl, find a mysterious magic book – Grimoire – in the ruins of the city slums. The book, able to speak and possessing boundless power, invites the young man to give his soul, and in return his sick sister will recover. Deceived by an insidious artifact, children are left with nothing and almost perish in the clutches of the Shadows.
The story is carried over one and a half thousand years ahead. The main character is a teenager named Nir. After the death of his mother, he is forced to care for his sick sister Yona, to support and protect her alone.
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Nir devotes herself to finding a cure for her sick sister and sets out on a journey. Far from home, he finds the talking book “Grimoire Weiss” – White Grimoire. A partnership with Weiss allows Neer to use magic, and the two begin their search for lands to collect all the magic spells (Sealed Verses) that Nir hopes will give Weiss the power to destroy the darkness and save his sister.
All subsequent events of NieR: RepliCant can be considered critical spoilers and I will not spoil your experience. All you need to know – the story of NieR: RepliCant is centered on Nier’s attempts to save his sister, and through his big, dangerous and difficult journey, game designer Yoko Taro and his team uncovered fundamental things for understanding this gaming universe. The game tells in detail about the “Gestalt” project, about the sealed souls that have become Shadows, about the opposition of the latter with the Replicants and about what exactly encourages restless souls to cruelty and violence.
T ermin “Replicant” migrated to Drakengard and NieR from Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”
NieR: RepliCant has five endings in total. They reflect the fate of Nir and Yona in different ways, some add context, and one will completely erase all your save and all characters. Nevertheless, the game’s ending gives a new round of conflict, the events of which are echoed 8000 years later – in the plot of the next game in the NieR series: Automata.
If you started playing with NieR: Automata and you feel that you have not fully understood the world, or do not know where to look for answers, then here is a short list of questions that RepliCant answers:
- How is Automata’s Emil related to RepliCant’s Emil?
- Did the androids Devol and Popol have a chance of success?
- In what timeline are events unfolding?
- What kind of horrible catastrophe hit the Earth?
- What is the connection between the androids of the past and the future?
- What’s the point?
After completing RepliCant, you can re-run Automata, as after the prequel you will better understand the connection between the games. Even if they are not united by a clear sequence.
Differences between Western and Japanese versions:
It is worth noting here that the original game in the Western and Japanese markets had a fundamental difference. In America and Europe, Nir was a brutal man, Yona’s father, in Japan, her teenage brother. The publisher of Square Enix felt that it would be easier for the Western public to understand and sympathize with a father who is looking for salvation for a sick daughter, rather than imbued with a story about a brother and sister.
In the west, the game was called NieR Gestalt, but for the updated edition they decided to keep the original Japanese concept, so in NieR: RepliCant ver.1.22474487139 they remain brother and sister. The game is already available on PC and consoles.
NieR: Automata and Endless War
In 5012, on the planet Earth, exhausted by conflicts, magic and otherworldly forces, a war of people and machines begins. The androids that the Gestalts were set up to guard are out of control. The last hope of humanity is YoRHa, a new kind of androids, elite soldiers, ideal fighters. Almost.
NieR: Automata dates back to 11945. By that time, people survived the attack of aliens, hid from them on the moon and are trying to return what was lost – the little that remained after numerous cataclysms and horrors.
All that lives is created to die.
We are trapped in an
endless cycle of life and death.
Is this a curse?
Or some kind of punishment?
This is the opening line of 2B, an android girl, one of the heroines of NieR: Automata. She is the same as hundreds of thousands of other androids, in her place could be anyone. Yoko Taro puts a special meaning into this postulate and deliberately makes the heroine not “chosen”, but only “one of many.” The phrase said by the heroine at the beginning will take on much more context and meaning in the ending.
It all starts with a mundane operation in which squad 2B must find and destroy the robot Goliath. An android in a short skirt turns out to be the only survivor in a brutal skirmish with other machines. She is joined by an android scout 9S and, at the cost of their own lives, this couple accomplishes the task. But this is not the end: the mind and memory of the destroyed androids were preserved at the orbital station, and therefore they rather quickly return to life in a new “body”.
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The story takes on an epic dimension when Adam and Eve, the new leaders of the machines, appear on the horizon. A cycle of new battles between androids and alien machines is launched – as it later turns out, this is not the first time. The confrontation between the two species lasts for centuries and people play almost no role in it, humanity has long been preserved only in capsules with a genetic code – these are the very souls separated from the physical shell, they had to go into replicants and continue to live after the victory over the Legion and SBH. But it didn’t work out. Now the androids rule the ball and over time they have gained the ability to experience emotions and feel like a person. As you understood, this could not end with anything good: androids live and repeat the mistakes of their creators, suffer from similar problems and are unable to cope with an external enemy, as they are disunited.
In this game universe, each next title takes the events far ahead and In NieR: Automata, Yoko Taro and the developers from Platinum Games have intensified the tragedy of what is happening and brought it to the limit – we see how even after millennia the vicious circle cannot break: enemies, bad decisions in the past they deprived the heroes of hope and they are powerless to change something drastically.
Attentive players will find references to the previous part in NieR: Automata – a few familiar characters, general themes, and even weapons. For example, 2B can fish the iron pipe from the sewer, which was Nir’s first weapon in NieR: RepliCant. In general, developers cherish the legacy they have created.
The story of the NieR universe won’t end with the Automata finale. Right now, Yoko Taro is gathering new teams to work on new games in the series. Over the years, this franchise has acquired the status of a cultural phenomenon. She has both a distinctive outlook on things and a unique visual style and can be considered dramatically complete from the point of view of attachment to real life. Behind the seemingly massive heap of artistic constructions and metaphorical names lies an attempt to understand the imperfection of human nature. An endless war for a limited supply of resources, a loop of violence, an arms race and nuclear build-up, attempts to outplay Mother Nature and cheat death.
The list can be continued and there are enough reasons for a separate large material. But more on that another time. Today, if you want to plunge into the NieR universe, you can start with the new version of RepliCant. The game is available on PC, PS4, PS5 and Xbox consoles.