If you didn’t sacrifice your save data, you are a monster.
That being said, I came away from the Waypoint spoilercast on Automata disappointed. It was kept close to an hour long and really didn’t discuss all that much of what the game was about nor a very broad range of subjects. The first twenty minutes were devoted mostly to Pascal (who is a great character, don’t get me wrong), but zeroing in on Pascal at the expense of most everyone else really misses the forest for the trees.
I mean, they didn’t mention a single word about the Operators, for example. Are they minor? Yes. But they both left a strong impact on me despite most of their time being spent as radio voices. 6O is a great figure in that role because she’s so unexpected and a great match for 2B. 2B spends so much time trying to stay emotionally distant and focused on the job, but 6O literally calls and e-mails out of the blue on personal topics, up to and including the moment she needs a shoulder to cry on after getting rejected by a girl she asked out.
The first moment in the game that seriously gutted me? The one that made me put down my controller and take an emotional breather? It was during the Bunker escape at the start of the third cycle. I had helped 6O out earlier by being a friend and sent her data on a flower, which she really appreciated. And during that escape from the logic virus-infected YoRHa units, I passed by 6O’s quarters, and she thanked me for the flower in a distorted, disjointed, virus-infected voice. 6O’s dying words caught me so off guard that I was still wrecked after I stopped playing for the night and went to bed.
Just…good god. And this is to say nothing of 21O’s fate, and her (admittedly probably unattainable) desires being left unfulfilled.
And then there’s the paths that 9S and A2 take during the third cycle. 9S, the dorky, inquisitive, talkative goof, has his world shattered over and over. First he learns that the humans are actually all dead. And then he sees A2 kill 2B, and one thing just leads into another, and it’s clear that his sanity was wearing away, and it’s difficult to tell how much of that was due to the logic virus that ultimately infected him versus cold reality hitting him like a sledgehammer. Meanwhile, A2 goes from being alone and on the run, distrustful of YoRHa and machine lifeforms, to becoming more willing to open up. She progresses from avoiding contact with androids to reconnecting with Anemone, and from threatening Pascal’s life to running errands for him. And then things go really, really bad.
But man, Ending E? That whole sequence is just beautifully done. Yoko Taro said before the game launched that it would have a happy ending. I wasn’t exactly sure I could believe him because, well, he’s Yoko Taro and happy endings aren’t exactly what his games are known for. And there is a happy ending in E, if that’s how you want to read into it. Fighting against the very game itself in order to give 2B, 9S, and A2 a second chance. It could all just end in disaster, but it’s worth a shot, right?
On another note, I really love the way that references to the original Nier are scattered about the game. There’s Emil and his whole side quest of course, which is really sweet a great nod to the first game. But then there’s the way that machines in the desert dress like people from Facade in the original Nier, or A2 stumbling across a perfect replica of the original game’s library while exploring the tower, which in turn contains an old medical record on Yonah. As someone that played the original Nier, this sort of stuff made me stop and take serious notice.
Oh, and for the heck of it, here’s Ending E of Drakengard, which kicked off all of this madness in the first place:
Seriously, someone give Yoko Taro the money to remake, or at the very least remaster Drakengard 1, and relocalize it with the same team that handled Nier, Drakengard 3, and Automata. Please.
And just for fun, Yoko Taro revisited the concept of the Drakengard 1 Ending E boss in the Drakengard 3 Ending D boss, but as a proper rhythm game that is roughly 10,000% more sadistic in its design:
Bless Yoko Taro. I really hope Square Enix keeps giving him the money to make the games he wants.