"This is a game that the developers wanted to make that would keep the players playing this game, guessing."
That one line from the NIER demo pretty much sums up the game pretty sufficiently. NIER, developed by Cavia Inc, is a 3rd person, Action-Adventure-RPG (Role Playing Game) for the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 systems releasing on April 27, 2010. It's also rated M for Mature, and does not shy away from this rating in the least.
This is probably the first M-rated title out of the Square-Enix family [in quite some time]. That aside, Square-Enix returns to the traditional RPG style of character leveling and gameplay. During your travels you can choose to do several side missions and simply fight through hordes of bad guys to increase your character's abilities. This concept is in direct contrast to the ever popular Final Fantasy XIII video game where leveling up your character is done through the linear progression of the game where the pacing is dictated by the story arch. This makes the traditional RPG gamer in me very happy.
Aesthetically speaking, NIER in my humble opinion (IMHO) focuses more on really specific, rich environment details. In what seems like a world over run with mythical creatures, magic, and mysticism, there's a huge attention to details in the environment and not to mention some of the quirky creatures you'll meet on the way. There's a gutty, gritty look to this RPG that is unmistakable and justifiably so due to the chaotic nature of the world our protagonist is forced to live in.
And while the graphics don't show massive amounts of gore, the swearing is heavy and attempts to set the tone of a future where the "Black Scawl" virus has run rampant. Attempts to cure it, moral and immoral, have seemingly left the world in ruins.
The main protagonist in the game is NIER himself and he's nothing short of unyielding. In his prolonged effort to find a cure for his daughter who's been inevitably struck with the "Black Scawl" virus, NIER is tossed into a world filed with plot twists, deception, and most of all tons of blood.
My initial impressions of the game are positive. Sure you have your standard 3rd person melee fighting, clearing rooms of randomly appearing baddies. But then the game did something I was not expecting; walking through a door to the next room switched to a top down view, and the game continued.
Apparently, the game will do this a number of times throughout the game, switching from standard 3D to top down to isometric 3/4ths view to side scrolling. I thought it was pretty cool and wondered why I haven't seen more games do that to date.
As for gameplay, to have the ability to switch between 3 different types of weapon styles, collect 30 different weapons for each style, level up each weapon to make them more powerful, add runes to each weapon to customize the ability of the weapon, and collect and strengthen long range and defensive magical spells, which are easily accessible at your fingertips and easily swappable on the fly, delighted the Action-RPG gamer in me...
[...and yes, I know that the previous statement was a run-on. For NIER, it seems to fit.]
The musical score helps keep you in that Conan-esc, Akira type end of the world the world feel. With the effects of the deadly virus the music is appropriately placed and the enemies along with the pacing of the game seem to be well congealed.
With all this, there was even more that could not be told for the demo.
Heck, from what was demoed, it's possible that what I saw from the story might not have been all it seemed to be.
I'm going to get my start on the story with the weekly downloadable comic. Each week leading up to the release, part of the 3 part prequel comic will introduce the story and world of NIER to the public. As of this writing, the 1st issue is available. From the preview I have more questions than answers about the game. On this note, the developers have accomplished their goal so far. This is a good thing as I'm looking very forward to checking out the full game in few weeks.