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“Project RepliCAN”: A Fan-Localization of NieR RepliCant Ver. 1.0.0 [DOWNLOAD]

nier 4

This post’s a little different than usual.

Since April 2019, I have been working on refining the English-patched version of NieR RepliCant originally released by RikuKH3. This patch replaced all of the Japanese script in the game with the English equivalent from the Western release, where the main character is replaced with an older man. RikuKH3 also altered some of the dialogue, for instance so that the word “father” was replaced with “brother” in conversations between Nier and the character Yonah.

Instances of his English counterpart still resurface (one which particularly sticks out to me is when Nier is being asked about his wedding “a long time ago”, despite being barely out of his teenage years at this point in RepliCant).

I decided to comb the entire script and rewrite dialogue that made Nier sound like a middle-aged man (as he is in the English version) so that it better reflected his character as a teenage boy and young man. Why? Because I love NieR RepliCant.

I may make another post in future going into more detail about how I did this project and why, but for now I shall release Version 1.0.0!

How to Download and Install

In order to play legally, first you’ll need a copy of NieR Replicant for PS3. It is only available on physical media, and sadly is now out of print. But if you’re lucky you can find one second-hand online. Then do the following:

  1. Rip your physical copy of NieR RepliCant and apply the English patch by RikuKH3, available here: https://pastebin.com/TCXDCmmS
  2. Download my modified files here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1LSm7GNxY8BJDpzni5KNBTcTMyMMEdD4r
  3. Go into the \PS3_GAME\USRDIR\MEDIA folder of NieR RepliCant and replace the “EVENT” and “TEXT” folders with the ones in my download, overwriting all files.
  4. You can play the game with either a modded PS3, or an emulator if your PC is better than mine (RPCS3).

Screenshots

I have tried to get a few screenshots of the edited dialogue in action, but bear in mind my PC can’t run the game emulated very well, so there are graphical glitches. In future, if I can I will try to capture some screenshots and video of the game running on PS3.

Brother Nier comforting YonahNier egging on the terrifying creatures whilst standing in a pool of his own bloodNier's opening monologue (completely overhauled)Nier's opening monologue (completely overhauled)Nier's opening monologue (completely overhauled)

Known Issues

I’m aware of the following issues. If you find any more or notice anything odd with the dialogue that isn’t listed here, please leave a comment below or contact me and I will do my best to look into it.

  • You have to enter your character name using a Japanese keyboard layout. I’ve tried seeing if I can change this, but cannot seem to find a way so far. I recommend you copy and paste some katakana into the name entry screen if on PC, or locate a katakana character layout sheet online and use it to help you enter a name on PS3.
  • Words in dialogue boxes and in the Forest of Myth sometimes overflow onto the next line. I’m not sure if it was using Notepad++ which caused this to happen or if it is unavoidable. I have some ideas to try and fix this, if I find a solution it will take a while to fix all of the offending dialogue.
  • Sometimes radio text (the text that appears in the top left corner of the screen while characters are talking) flashes by very quickly. I’ve yet to find a solution to this, it seems the timing is a bit off on rare occasions.

Summary

This mod was a labour of love by a huge fan of the NieR series (*cough*), and if somehow Square Enix suddenly decided after all these years to remaster, localise and release RepliCant to the west, I would urge anyone to buy that instead as they would do a far superior job than I ever could!

One thing I should note is I stuck to using Americanised/Americanized English for this modded script, because the existing English script which I based it upon uses it.

Please let me know what you think if you try out this modded script, and also if you find anything odd, like dialogue feels clunky or doesn’t make sense. It’s only been me looking at it so far so any outside input would be welcome!

5 Times LA Noire Broke on Me [VIDEO]

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Hello my lovely gamer-ators!

Recently I played LA Noire for the first time (the PS4 release), and I’ve just uploaded a new video over on the TurnBasedTurnip YouTube channel, highlighting 5 of my favourite glitches that decided to grace me with their presence. I’ve ordered them from my least to most favourite, so be sure to watch to the end.

As always, I’d love to know about any glitches or madness you have encountered during LA Noire, or any other game!

BBC Radio 6 Music is Currently Running an Interesting-Sounding Series About Video Games Music

Radio 6 High Scores website

It’s called High Scores: A History of Video Games Music and is being hosted by the BBC’s Mark Savage. The first episode is currently available to listen to so far, and guest features persistent video game fanatic Charlie Brooker (yes, that Charlie Brooker) showcasing a selection of his favourite video game jams through the years, along with some nostalgic and amusing anecdotes to go along with them.

Though just a teaser for the series which begins properly on March 10th, this first episode is worth a listen for anyone interested in the history of games music, and has piqued my interest for what’s to come. Radio 6 has had excellent high-quality programming about video games music in the past and I expect this will be a continuation to that theme. I look forward to next week’s show!

High Scores: A History of Video Games Music is being broadcast live every Sunday at 13:00 on BBC Radio 6 with recordings available to listen to for 30 days after airing on Radio 6’s website. You can also listen to it using the BBC Sounds app. Click here for more information on how to listen to Radio 6.

I Played Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy) and am Having an Internal Conflict Over Whether it is Good, or So-Bad-it’s-Good

A short time ago, I bought a game for around a pound called Fahrenheit in a GOG.com sale. My word, what an experience that was.

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Cover art © Quantic Dream

What is it?

Fahrenheit (known as Indigo Prophecy in North America), released in 2005, was Quantic Dream’s second game after Omikron: Nomad Soul. More recently, they are known for Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls and Detroit: Become Human. As with the company’s other titles, It is written and directed by David Cage.

As I’m just discovering now, the version of Fahrenheit available on GOG.com is “uncensored and uncut”, so this whole article applies to that version. It has nudity, blood, sex, all that malarkey.

What’s it about?

New York City: You are Lucas Kane, very much a Regular Joe, who becomes possessed in a diner toilet and murders an innocent stranger. He’s shocked at what he has done when he comes to, and sets out to discover who or what is really behind the murder.

 

 

Conversely, you are also stern-and-smart-but-scared-of-the-dark Carla Valenti and comic-relief-yet-also-sometimes-serious Tyler Myles, two police officers on the case of the diner murder. They must discover evidence to prove who and where the murderer is.

 

On rare occasions, you also assume control of Lucas’ brother Markus Kane, a priest and overall swell chap.

fahrenheit - markus

Depending on what actions you choose and dialogue trees you follow during the game, different outcomes can be observed. However, these all eventually converge to result in the same overall story arc (albeit with three variations on the ending).

An important aspect of the game is the mental health bar (or “mental ‘ealth” as Cage himself tells us during the tutorial). This applies to every main character, and ranges from maxed out at “Neutral” to hitting rock bottom at “Wrecked” which can, but not always, result in a game over.

The mental health bar is affected positively and negatively by certain events, eg. Drinking coffee or using the toilet increases it a little while many main story events will negatively impact it by a large amount.

Is it good?

Hmm! The short answer is yes, and I’d definitely recommend it, even if it is now quite dated. It is, if anything, very interesting to see the origins of a lot of mechanics behind Quantic Dream’s later titles. The long answer though? Read on!

The QTE conundrum

Firstly, I need to point out the Quick Time Events (QTEs). These are rampant in Quantic Dream’s games, and in later titles I actually find them to work quite well in instilling a sense of urgency in tense scenes. In Fahrenheit, however, I found them to often be a hindrance.

fahrenheit - bob 1
Difficult to learn, easy to master.

They take the form of two simultaneous Simon Says visual cues, where you must push the correct colour that corresponds with the one flashing up on the screen. They’re used not only for action sequences, but also during slow-moving cutscenes in order to unlock extra parts of it. It does get a bit tiresome, but once you get the hang of it it’s generally tolerable.

Mocap madness

Fahrenheit makes extensive use of motion capture technology, which was very ambitious at the time and using the movements of live actors helped to convey Quantic Dream’s intention for the game to be presented as an “interactive movie” rather than a standard “video game”. I commend this, it was a great way to make the game feel more accessible to a wider audience than what was seen by the public as the stereotypical “video game” audience, and an excellent way of presenting a narrative-focused experience. All good. Good job.

fahrenheit - mocap

But when you look at Fahrenheit from now in 2019, when technology in games has advanced exponentionally since 2005, the high detail mocap animation applied to low polygon characters and objects looks quite comical at times. I don’t think this necessarily detracts from it; it is a product of its time and we need to appreciate it as such. But it can be pretty funny.

fahrenheit - lucas eyes

There are mega spoilers for the story below including the ending, so be warned.

That story, though.

After the murder, Lucas flees to his apartment and tries to resume normal life. He goes to work, but it is clear something is not okay because he starts hallucinating that giant lice are chasing him around the building.

fahrenheit - lice 1

Of course, his coworkers can’t see them and after the chase it cuts to Lucas writhing around on the office floor with his colleagues wondering what the hell is wrong with him. As am I, lads, I think to myself.

fahrenheit - lice 2

We alternate between controlling Lucas struggling with evading authorities and trying to find out who the “real” killer is, and Carla and Lucas trying to find him. There’s even a scene where a witness at the diner has to construct an E-fit of Lucas, and it is incredible.

fahrenheit - e-fit 1fahrenheit - e-fit 2

I really like this aspect of pitting multiple characters under the player’s control against each other. It works well in inciting conflict in the audience over what is right and wrong, and what outcome do you really want. There are successful examples of this being used in Detroit: Become Human, for example (spoiler in the following video link) a decisive fight scene between two opposing protagonists where the player is put on the spot to choose who succeeds.

The thing is, the entire time I was very much rooting for Lucas to get caught.

He kept demonstrating to me how unlikeable he was, be that boasting about how many times he’s read a Nietzsche book, being dickish to his priest brother Markus, oh yeah and KILLING a man at the very beginning.

fahrenheit - lucas is a nob 1
I hate you so much, Lucas Kane.

The game just couldn’t prove to me that Lucas was not in fact responsible for the murder no matter how much it tried. I constantly thought, All of this, all these hallucinations and being possessed, it’s all in his head isn’t it? He’s had some kind of mental breakdown and this is the result. I mean, the game does place certain emphasis on mental ‘ealth, after all.

fahrenheit - markus the wise 1

OH HOW WRONG I WAS

Things started to get weird for me and my sister, who were playing the game together, when we had to endure a scene with Carla avoiding patients in an asylum who get free from their rooms. It’s not often that I feel a deep sense of disturbance playing a game, but the whole time me and my sister kept looking at each other going, what the actual hell is this scene! I suppose the developers felt they needed to inject some drama into the chapter but this sequence was completely unnecessary to everything!

fahrenheit - carla asylum 1

Okay, I have to admit I had to go back and remind myself of what exactly happened after a certain point, because it just got so completely insane that I don’t think I took it all in when I played it for the first time. I’m not going to run through every single event in the game, but I’ll try and summarise as briefly as possible. Even though it was a struggle to collate everything together into a digestible chunk, the crazy ending is worth it.

Forewarning: it is a bit mad.

fahrenheit - agatha 1

Lucas ends up being the suspect of another murder – that of Agatha, a blind old lady / spiritual medium who helped Lucas find out who possessed him— a man in a hooded coat— by putting him into a trance. He sees Agatha’s spirit and on her advice visits a specialist on Mayan civilisation called Prof. Dimitri Kuriakin.

fahrenheit - dimitri

After questioning Dimitri under the guise of a journalist, Lucas realises that the murder he committed in the diner, by cutting his victim’s heart arteries (hearteries, heh), was a Mayan sacrifice. Dimitri said that back in the day, a Mayan Oracle would possess another person and perform a human sacrifice through them, disconnecting the victim’s heart by cutting the arteries. Murdering via proxy allowed the Oracle’s soul to remain “pure”, or something. Ergo, the bloke in a hooded coat who possessed Lucas was an Oracle and is the true murderer. Still with me?

fahrenheit - oracle
The Mayan Oracle, aka Bloke in Hooded Coat.

Good. *Heaves huge sigh and continues*

Dimitri says that the possessed person then committed suicide after the sacrifice. Lucas didn’t, however. THE PLOT THICKENS.

The Oracle lures Lucas out of hiding by tying his ex-girlfriend Tiffany to a roller coaster in an abandoned theme park. Lucas rushes to her rescue, but ends up getting both of them killed by falling off of the roller coaster (good job).

fahrenheit - zombie lucas 2
Zombie Lucas. Yup.

Lucas is brought back to life as what I will refer to henceforth as Zombie Lucas by a group of AIs called the Purple Clan. The Purple Clan reveal that they were the ones disguising themselves as Agatha’s ghost earlier on.

fahrenheit - ai
An AI from the Purple Clan, who gained sentience via 80s internet networks. No really, that’s their actual backstory.

The entire game so far has been punctuated by seeing homeless blokes around the city. It’s New York, so OK. BUT ACTUALLY it comes to light that the homeless people are part of a secret underground organisation called the Invisibles that is monitoring the Purple Clan, and the clan that the Oracle is a member of which has secretly ruled the world for centuries (the Orange Clan).

fahrenheit - invisibles
The secret underground hobo spy base.

Both clans are trying to locate a little girl called the Indigo Child, who is a pure soul that has never been incarnated before and holds the secret that will grant whoever hears it immense power. The Invisibles are trying to make sure that the Indigo Child doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Got it?

fahrenheit - indigo child 1
The Indigo Child (this isn’t going to look good in court, Lucas.)

SOMEHOW, Lucas manages to convince Carla that all of the above is true. He’s so convincing that she loses all powers of critical thinking and respect for herself and when they’re in the Invisibles’ secret underground base they have unprotected sex on a hobo’s mattress.

fahrenheit - hobo mattress sex censored

I’m telling the truth, see!

By this point, Tyler (remember him?) has noped the fuck out by either moving out of state with his girlfriend Sam, or staying behind in NYC to help people affected by the freak cold weather (you decide). He is the wisest person in the entire game.

fahrenheit - tyler smiling
Tyler doesn’t need any of this.

Lucas, as it turns out, has special power called Chroma which resists the powers of the Oracle. This is why the Oracle was unable to make him kill himself after the murder in the diner. He got this power from being exposed to some magical sciencey artifact in a military base that he lived on when he was a child, while he was still in his mother’s (a scientist at the base) womb.

WE ARE NEARLY THERE.

Lucas kidnaps the Indigo Child girl from an orphanage (actually this happens before the hobo base bit but I’m putting it here for ease of explaining things) and takes her to the military base to learn the secret from her and gain immense power. He then battles the AIs and the Oracle, and depending on your performance during the last chapter of the game you get one of three endings, only one of which we experienced:

We got the “Good” ending, where the freak winter ends and everything is looking rosy, and Zombie Lucas and Carla are expecting a magical Chroma Indigo Baby or something that will save the world. I’ve got to admit I lost the will to live at this point.

fahrenheit - good ending combined
The “good” ending.

It took me a few days to digest all that happened towards the end of Fahrenheit, but eventually I came to some conclusions.

I can’t bring myself to believe that anything after the abandoned theme park scene happened at all. You know the game’s emphasis on mental health? I don’t think it would be too far fetched to say that Lucas was always mentally unstable and imagined all of the supernatural events up until he dragged Tiffany up to the top of the roller coaster HIMSELF. I think that he survived the fall but either completely lost his mind or entered a comatose state, and everything that happens from this point onwards was a completely invented construct by him.

I think that there was no possession in the diner whatsoever. There was no Mayan sacrifice cult, that Lucas warped what the Mayan specialist told him to fit around his own deranged ideas, and above all he was just an unfortunate victim of some sort of psychiatric disorder.

fahrenheit - markus the wise 2
Markus tells it how it is.

This also makes me feel better about the ending, for both me and my sister were just floored by everything – the underground Hobo organisation, Zombie Lucas, zombie hobo mattress sex with Carla, zombie Indigo child baby with Carla after knowing her for three months … Just, no. I refuse to believe any of that was real. You intended me to feel this way, right, Cage? Right?!

This game is amazing.

wrecked

Afterword

My, this was a long one! I thought it was just going to be a quick jaunt about how crazy this game was, but it ended up being full blown therapy for me to work through what the heck it was all about and to get my brain back into alignment really. Thank you for sticking it out to the (insane) end!

Fahrenheit is absolutely a good game in many ways, but there’s definitely a certain badness to it that evokes a similar feeling to certain bad/good movies I’m a fan of— I’m thinking of the works of Tommy Wiseau or Neil Breen, where they take their projects seriously but the end result demonstrates unintentional hilarity. I’d be very interested to find more good-but-possibly-bad games to add to my collection!

As a final-final little thing, on my travels I discovered this fascinating blog post from back in 2010 by unseen64.net which showcases beta images from Fahrenheit.

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is About a Superhero. And it’s the Saddest Free Game I’ve Ever Played

Before I start, I want to iterate that Captain Spirit is a free stand-alone chapter set within the Life is Strange universe, and as with any narrative-rich game, is best experienced firsthand before reading about it! If you want to continue, story-related spoilers lie ahead …

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit_20180924201455

Welcome to the world of Chris Eriksen, the 9-year-old protagonist of this miniventure. The setting: It’s Saturday morning, and he can do whatever he likes! The Playbox console isn’t working (Dad said he’d fix it… yeah right), but that doesn’t matter because he, *~Captain Spirit~*, has a world to save.

But first he needs to finish his costume.

The element of choice, as with the original Life is Strange, is once again prevalent in The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. From the get-go we can choose what Captain Spirit’s appearance will be like—mask or helmet? Light or heavy armour? Are his team colours dark or bright?

The henshin sequence where Chris transforms into his full CS garb is particularly good at outlining how powerful childhood imagination can be, complete with scribbly explosions and an awesome theme tune, before throwing us straight back into his mundane garage. This is personally my favourite part!

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit_20181008202757

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit_20181008202804
Wooo cosplay!

Captain Spirit can do anything, and here is where the tale takes a bit of a sad turn. Two years prior to this fine Saturday morning on which Captain Spirit is given life, Chris’s mother was killed in a hit and run incident, leaving his father, Charles, a widower and alone raising his son.

Needless to say, it has been hard for both of them. It is apparent that Charles’ drinking has become more out of hand as time has gone on, and Chris ends up suffering for it both physically and mentally. Through Captain Spirit, it is clear that Chris is projecting his feelings surrounding the loss of his mother where he is unable to elsewhere; his “super powers” allowing him to right the wrongs that occur (one example: being able to choose to stop a hit and run using a toy shark car and a doll).

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit_20180926210555

But you start to question: is it all make-believe? Or is there really something more to his superhero games?

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is a brilliantly built little package which I thoroughly enjoyed exploring, and a superb addition to the Life is Strange universe. I look forward to the next installment of the series and how, as this demo self-proclaims, the return of Chris and his choices made within this chapter will come into play.

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is free to download on PS4, Xbox One and Steam. As of writing, Life is Strange 2: Episode 1 is now also available, which is exciting!

Two Point Hospital, from a Theme Hospital Veteran’s Perspective

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From the moment I first heard about Two Point Hospital during its E3 presentation, my heart leapt with joy.

Let’s backup a little bit to give some context:

A long time ago in 1997, a little game called Theme Hospital was released on the PC by Bullfrog Productions. The premise was simple: build and maintain your own private hospital, improve your reputation, cure as many people as possible and make as much money as possible to become the best hospital around.

It received worldwide critical acclaim , and a somewhat cult following has continued to enjoy it to this day thanks to mods such as CorsixTH. When I think about it, Theme Hospital has been a part of my gaming life on and off for over 20 years!

What has made it such a tough runner for so long is its brilliant mix of being easy to learn, difficult to master, as well as being unpredictable and hilarious with its wacky fictional diseases, natural disasters, emergencies to deal with, rats to shoot … ahhh, so good.

theme-hospital
I’m unsure of the original source of this image, but it sums up TH nicely.

Now its spiritual successor Two Point Hospital has been released, and—although I have only played for a short time so far—it is definitely a match for, and perhaps may even surpass in many ways, its master.

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Firstly, it looks gorgeous. The art style is adorably cartoonish and yet realistic enough to make me believe it can be set in some mid-Atlantic county (both this and Theme Hospital have this interesting hybrid American/British culture going on in them). It shares a lot of design points with the previous game, such as nearly identical character designs and colour palette, and yet at the same time developing upon them to appear more contemporary and refined.

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May the Soylent Breen Foundation live long and prosper.

With regards to the controls, initially I had to keep reminding myself that, no, this isn’t Theme Hospital mechanics-wise. The muscle memory and conscious areas of my brain were fighting for dominance as I tried to learn the ropes of the game, to the point where I ended up customising the control options to reflect Theme Hospital‘s a bit more (I am so grateful you can do this, seriously cheers).

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Hmmm, it’s getting a bit busy around here. Pantastic.

From the offset, the original’s dry humour is apparent in Two Point Hospital. There is an opening pre-rendered video, much in the style of Bullfrog’s old games, where a slick doctor/possible salesman introduces us to our new world of running hospitals, and how great it is at Two Point (while fires burn everything in the background and the ghosts of all the dead patients haunt the corridors).

The introductory tutorial is simple and succinct. It has us place the basics of a small health centre—reception desk, GP’s office, pharmacy, as well as introducing us to the basic functions of the customer assistant, doctor, nurse, and janitor. Everything else you will come to know builds upon these basics, and the whole tutorial is pretty much identical to that in Theme Hospital, which is a good sign that more advanced methods of play will be introduced equally well.

Playing further, every new menu/game function etc. that you encounter is accompanied by a short pop up description box detailing the essentials about it, along with a tip or two. Small and often while you’re playing is the best way to learn!

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Here are a few more points I noted while I played:

  • There are some great management tools for overseeing staff, patients, and which diseases you can treat;
  • This might be a moot point for anyone but me, but I love that unlike in Theme Hospital, this time all staff and patients can be male or female;
  • Rooms can be made to any shape, within a grid, as long as it’s big enough for its function. It doesn’t restrict you to purely square and rectangle rooms;
  • The Awards Ceremony event is a great incentive to better your playing methods;
  • You can engage Steam friends in online challenges where you compete to reach goals before each other. Theme Hospital had a similar function over LAN, but as with here was always lacking a true multiplayer option. It would be interesting to be able to play with others on the same map, vying for control over the hospitals dotted across it and trying to out-cure/out-moneymake each other. Perhaps send an undercover patient into your rival’s hospital to sabotage?
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One day I shall win Janitor of the Year, by gum!

In Summary

For both veterans of Theme Hospital and newcomers to Two Point Hospital, I feel as though this game would be very easy to pick up and learn how to play. As opposed to being a pure sequel to the former, Two Point is more like a re-imagining of the same idea, with a bunch of added extras. Plus, it is a blinkin’ lorry/ambulanceload o’ fun!

So suspend all expectations, and just go wherever the hospital bed may take you.

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Even if it flings you off into the unknown, like what happened to poor Dr. Solomon here when I edited the room she was in

Two Point Hospital is out now on Steam. Go go!

If you’re so inclined, I’ve just noticed that Theme Hospital is 99p on GOG.com at the moment! Worth a punt? You can always use CorsixTH to run it in HD …

How I Fell in Love With NieR

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Source: zerochan.net Artist unknown.

In early April of this year (2018), I was aware of the game series called NieR, had heard of its popularity and acclaim but knew nothing else about it.  Fast-forward to June and I am now a devout worshipper. There are probably many others who are currently in the same mind about it as I was two months ago (ie. never really thought about it), but who would love it as I do if they got into it. So, below I am going to try and list what exactly made me turn, in some sort of chronological order. How did I become a NieR convert?

1. I watched a playthrough of Drakengard

Drakengard is the game series that NieR is a spin-off of, and by pure chance I happened to watch a playthrough of the first game towards the end of April. It started off quite tame, if a little dark. However, once I had witnessed the final alternate ending (the one which is canon for the beginning of NieR), and had gotten over my flabbergastedness over it, I felt as though I had sampled something special and wanted more.

2. I familiarised myself with NieR: Replicant

Following on from Drakengard, I started watching a playthrough of the first NieR game, as I am a little late to the party and it is now very difficult to get a hold of a copy. There are two versions of this game (bear with me); Replicant, which is a Japan-only PS3 release, and Gestalt, which was released on Xbox 360 in Japan and released in the west as simply NieR, on both PS3 and Xbox 360. The two games are identical story-wise, apart from the main character of Replicant being a teenage boy/young man and in Gestalt he is a middle-aged man.

‘This all sounds very confusing!’ I hear you cry.

Again, bear with me. Because of the nature of how the narratives Drakengard and NieR are structured, they deal with multiple endings and simultaneous realities. Gestalt and Replicant are both equally valid in their interpretation of the main character of the game, because in my opinion they should be looked at as simultaneous, alternate realities of each other.

The main character “Nier” in Replicant is the older brother of the young girl character called “Yonah”, whereas in Gestalt he is her father. This alters the relationship dynamic between them in subtle yet significant ways between the two versions, and also gives a different point of view to the player of certain story elements.

The main point I noted was in the tragedy of the main plot point; trying to save Yonah from the deadly disease she has. “Father” Nier gives the aura of being physically strong and capable of protecting the people he cares about, and obviously Yonah’s protector as  her dad, yet is powerless against the disease that is attacking her from the inside. You can pretty much feel his failure, and it’s bloody painful.

“Brother” Nier is just a child himself in the beginning of the game, and is having to cope with the burden of finding ways to survive for both of them in the absence of parents, along with locating a cure for Yonah. In this manner, Brother Nier and Yonah have a more equal relationship, as even though Nier still plays a protective role it isn’t laid out as obviously to the player as it is with hulking Papa Nier. This results in the feeling of a different sort of tragedy, as young Nier’s powerlessness is like a constant barrage coming at him from all directions.

I chose to watch a playthrough of an unofficial translation of Replicant mainly because it is the version I would never be able to playbeing in Japanese, a language I don’t speak, and never being released in the west. And if I ever do get a hold of Gestalt, it’ll at least be partly a new experience.

You can watch the playthrough I saw here. Note, however, that it is patched with the English script. It has been tweeked a bit, but you have to use your imagination in several places to change references of Yonah/Nier being daughter/father to sister/brother. A minor flaw compared to the rest of the experience, trust me!

3. I read Grimoire NieR

Another Japan-only release, Grimoire NieR was a book that detailed a lot of aspects from NieR that weren’t completely covered in the game itself. Backstories for characters, concept work, game guides, information on items; much like the Ultimania guides available for Square Enix titles. Too bad it was only ever published in Japanese.

But!! Luckily for us, a fan translation into English exists of many parts of the book. This entertained me for a good few train journeys, and gave me so much insight into the world and characters of NieR, that I think it formed the final cog in the mechanism that got me hooked on the series.

As well as the extra story segments, often shocking (including a particularly sad one that alludes to a certain character prostituting himself to get by), the interviews with the creators give some very interesting insights into the thought processes behind the game. I’m even satisfied with the explanation behind why the tritagonist, Kainé, runs around in her knickers the whole time. Okay, maybe it is a little tongue in cheek. But that is what makes it great!

kaine nier sword
Not subtle enough? Okay 😛 I’m still trying to find the original credit for this image. Unfortunately I don’t recognise the artist’s signature!

4. I listened to the soundtrack

No, hang on. I lied. The final cog that locked me into the machine that is NieR was in fact the OST. It is beautiful. I was tempted to buy it on vinyl a little while ago, even though I don’t have a record player.

Here is one track I enjoy (out of many. MANY. This was a difficult decision to only put one, but I think it’s gotta be this one):

So there we go. After all this, I went on to inevitably purchase NieR: Automata. And it was the best darn game purchase I could have made at that point in time. Would I have enjoyed Automata if I hadn’t have done all of the above? Most likely. A huge chunk of the overall game sales are probably people who haven’t made this same journey, and I bet most of them love it all the same.

But am I glad I took this route? YES.

Part of what I enjoy about a series (any series, be that book/TV/film/game), is getting into the world around it, the characters, how everything works; the lore. If I had dived right in with Automata, I would have eventually gone back to research all of the above if I hadn’t already seen it, simply because it is part of my personality to want to know all I can about a series I’m interested in.

By becoming familiar with NieR beforehand, I was able to recognise references made to various aspects of the lore, be they subtle or not, in Automata. A piece of music here, an entry in the Weapons Data there, some rather odd-familiar-terrifying-looking giant spherical objects way out in the desert …

It might be a bit late for this, but long story short, experiencing what Automata was built upon helped me to enjoy it all the more. And if you haven’t yet looked into it but are at all interested, please do!

emil head