'Nier Replicant' Beautifully Updates a Classic Oddity, but Can't Replace It

"What if Ace Combat had Dragons?" is how it all began. Drakengard sprang to life—a mishmash of ground-based action RPG combat (added late in development) and aerial dragon combat, dark European fantasy, and too much Neon Genesis Evangelion—on the Playstation 2 in 2003. It was weird and chaotic, a broken, repetitive, shambling mess. It was just playable enough and outlandishly beautiful in its coarseness that it wasn't critically and commercially abandoned, and instead became one of those oddities of the PS2 era: cultishly adored and largely ignored. 

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/n7bwmg/nier-replicant-ver01

Look, there’s a hierarchy of combat systems worth genuinely engaging in: Ninja Gaiden (2004) > Devil May Cry (2001) > and then everything else (except for Kingdom Hearts and Dark Souls, which are in their own weird pocket dimensions). Drakengard , Nier , Automata — they were never going to be in the top 10 or the middle 50, they don’t need to be, just let it go and enjoy the choreography of chaos in auto mode.

Of course Dia would be the one to say what I wouldn’t dare to, lmao.

Looking forward to playing this down the line. I’m somewhat torn between this and picking up a PS3 copy of the original, but as the review ends on it’s a shame that this is the only version to be widely available in the future.


I think this might be the closest Dia can come to a glowing review for a new, big budget release, so I’m pretty excited for this game.


I never really understood the people who like the combat in Automata. Admittedly I’m not a big bullet hell or character action person but the combat in Automata did not to change that. The dullness of the combat(especially when playing 2B) combined with the sudden difficulty spikes and fairly punishing deaths meant I switched it to easy very early and had a great time.

While I do wish the originals were made available as well. I was also never going to go back and play them. Like a lot of people the older graphics and funky combat are a barrier to me and this update/revision/remaster makes the game much more accessible.


I put all (and I do mean all) of my chip space into health regen to mitigate that particular issue.

This is an excellent review! It’s always great to read a piece that expresses my misgivings and mixed feelings in a way that I just couldn’t. Nier is a really special game, and there’s really not much else out there like it! I’m glad that more people will get to experience it, but the way that the narrative around these remakes frames them as the definitive editions makes me sad. At least this one looks much more in line aesthetically with the original than other recent remakes.

I’m glad to hear there’s some new stuff in this version, and that it fits well with the original game! I was going to put this one off for a few years, as I recently played the original, but this review moved it up. I’ll probably pick it up in a few months when I’m less busy!

I was kind of hoping of a last minute twist where reviews revealed that they also remastered Gestalt, because Nier is one of the only good dad games, but, alas…


You can kind of squint your eyes and think you’re playing an easier Bayonetta 2. But I am a character-action guy.

I’ve lucked out and got it delivered a day early so started playing. My whole knowledge of this game is the threads I could work out from Automata and the famous review from a Jason. Already started though and thought it all felt… Familiar… in a way I couldn’t process until I stepped into a very familiar library and suddenly the music clicked right into place. I’m really excited to dig further into it.

It’s a gorgeous game but (again in my ignorant eyes) in the same way something like Breath of the Wild does. It’s got a very specific nice aesthetic and accompanying soundtrack.

I’m really into the idea of old man JRPG ans very bummed that Old Man is no longer here. Might look for a PS3 copy.

I ordered the swanky edition from SE themselves and I’m not exactly clear if I’m supposed to get the game with the other stuff or what’s going on, but I watched the Giant Bomb Quick Look and immediately went out and bought the piano score

I’m about 5 hours into Nier.

  1. I feel confident saying that if I had played the original, I would have loved it.

  2. I noticed that they added extra guardrails to the infamous fishing spot, which is kind of funny.

  3. This last part feels like a confession: I think I like the combat? And I like it better than Automata? We will see if this changes over time. I think I am the only person I have seen on this forum that actually likes musou game combat, so that probably helps. The combat in Nier keeps me engaged moment to moment, so I enjoy pushing myself to go as fast as possible while juggling enemies to get hit as little as possible, even though the game doesn’t really require me to particularly well. Now that I think about what I just said, I should probably play more DMC games.

Also, I enjoy other… unpopular… action RPGs like Phantasy Star and God Eater, so I guess this is par for the course.

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I only had time to get a couple hours into Replicant Numbers last night so I won’t speak to the combat that much.

What I will say–and I think have said on this forum before–is that Nier Automata’s combat got a bad rap pretty much exclusively because of poor difficulty tuning. You could make (and people have made) ridiculous combo videos out of that game, but in practice there was no need to go to such lengths because a) enemies had a tendency to fall over dead before you got to that point, and b) the game wasn’t grading you a la DMC/Bayonetta anyways.


I like that this combat system seems fun but not overbearing, it gives you some dangerous foes but it’s not strict about combos or perfect execution.
I also like how there’s a fundamental block and parry system in this, which feels more fitting than Automata’s Bayonetta dodges and is something I tend to prefer.

I’ve never really been the SunhiLegend “pull off 40+ combo juggle moves with perfect timing and style” player, having a responsive combat system that allows for some sense of expression and challenge is often all I ask, it makes it engaging enough to not feel like a slog.

I hope the enemy design mixes up though, never been a fan of the amorphous blob of visual enemy presentation, like in 2017’s Prey, I don’t really wanna fight pen scribbles or sentient soup.

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Since this is the de facto Nier Numbers thread, I wanted to give a heads up to those looking to do the initial side content before they won’t be able to anymore.

I read in an article that there’s a point of no return that’ll dismiss any incomplete content (quests, getting weapons, etc.) once you reach it, and that it would be obvious when it happens. Problem is, as I found out last night, it’s only obvious after you already passed it. So without spoiling anything major (blurred for folks who’d rather go in completely blind):

The first point of no return is talking to Popola after you unlock the last sealed verse (you’ll know which it is, since the game will give you an achievement for it). Specifically, once she asks you to retrieve “vapor moss,” it’ll railroad you to the first ending.

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FYI looking at the trophies or achievements will give away spoilers for fights later in the game.

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I am now a couple hours into part 2 and I have now turned on auto-battle because I see why people complain about the combat. Once you get to part 2, the enemies have a lot more health and do more damage, so the fights simply take longer, which makes the combat less enjoyable.

Also, “Auto-battle” is not one thing, it’s several configurable settings. “Automatically use magic” seems like the biggest one A) because you no longer need to constantly be holding down R1/RB in fights and B) the game cycles between spells more frequently than you can, so it looks cooler than using magic manually.