Ha, I totally would, actually!! I still feel guilty.
Gravity Rush 2 is probably the closest thing we will get to seeing 2B before she resented her relationship with 9S.
So I’ve mostly finished my 2nd playthrough (I’m down to the Emil fight and the final stage of the machine colosseum in the Forest).
Other than catching some more foreshadowing routes A and B didn’t change much, but I’m still trying to sort out my feelings about route C/D. I think the character stuff in that route was greatly overshadowed by the plot in my first playthrough. Going back the merge into A2B seemed a bit more interesting/obvious but 9S just got more insufferable. Like thematically I get it, so much of the game is about what happens when machines lose their purpose and YoRHa black boxes are machine cores so 9S’s reaction to the information he finds/the fall of YoRHa/2B’s death “make sense” (we saw this reaction in plenty of other machines), and Yoko Taro makes games where the PC’s violence “makes sense”, but I’m just not a fan of getting saddled with that destructive nihilistic attitude.
I mentioned in an old comment that I was going to try keeping the “genderswapping 9S fixes some stuff” angle in mind and while I think that it improves everything pre-2B’s death in just a general “sidestepping some icky tropes” way but everything after 2B’s death I’m thinking that his gender and how awful he is might actually be the point? Like if most of the game can be interpreted as a commentary about ganbatte and existential crises and I could see 9S as a commentary on the extremely destructive result of toxic masculinity holding sway during an existential crisis. Although 9S doesn’t get a chance to tell 2B about the Council of Humanity being a lie, she probably already knows (it’d be hard kill someone for knowing too much if you’re not sure what they’re not supposed to know), and the fall of YoRHa shared by 2B and 9S. So, when confronted with the (more or less) same crisis, A2B save and protect what they can or at least disengage, while 9S falls to violent nihilism, and I think all of this is maybe backed up by A2’s path, she’s the one that actually causes the downfall of the red girls as she climbs the tower (9S just kills a bunch of women and steals a flight unit) and her ending is the lead in when you go to ending E from chapter select (although that might be a quirk of my save) as opposed to 9S’s Jacob’s Ladder dream that he’s important enough to offered a way out.
And maybe in attempting to comment about this stuff it ends up landing into that many more awful tropes but it feels to me like there’s something there.
the loop of multiple choice questions about gods and personhood that you get if you beat the first chapter before the rest of the game has downloaded is the logic virus.
Or you might just be going down an unintended rabbit hole.
A simpler notion is that 9S is a danger to himself and to others not because of toxic masculinity, but because he’s like a kid. He’s naive, but designed to be inquisitive. But why would 2B be programmed specifically to kill him any time he learned too much? Because the knowledge is literally too much for him. The more he learns and the deeper he goes, the more unhinged he becomes; something only exacerbated when he sees 2B, with whom he shares a deeper connection than he may or may not have understood on some vague level, killed. A key point here being that he doesn’t understand why she died, and more to the point, he has no interest in learning the reason.
And this makes more sense given the name of ending D; Chil[D]hood’s End. 9S is no longer the inquisitive, childlike goofball. He’s learned too much about what the world really is and the reality of it was beaten into him in a way that just became more painful the more he learned. In the end, he’s a danger to himself and to others because he sees no meaning in existence. Where A2 (with 2B) offer the barest sense of hope in Ending C, Ending D is utter hopelessness. Sure, what remains of 9S’s consciousness is offered a ride into the stars, but there’s no guarantee that he’d find any sense of peace in going that way. And also, how many people here declined going with Adam and Eve?
The reason that YoRHa kept killing 9S over and over again was for his own good as much as it was for everyone else’s. Like most of YoRHa, he was ignorant to the truth, but had the capacity to learn it. What he apparently never had was the capacity to cope and come to terms with the full understanding of what the truth is, necessitating his constant mental resets via death. In some ways, 9S was as much a victim of circumstance as the rest of YoRHa, living a life that, because of his very nature, was never allowed to grow beyond what YoRHa deemed “safe” whether he was aware of that or not.
Maybe I’m reading way too into it but I see a lot of Yoko Taro in 9S based off some of the things he has said in interviews. His attitude towards the industry & life in general seemed to have shifted since his employment with Square Enix. It may just be jokes & dokes but a lot of his humor is “Old Yoko Taro has represents everything Young Yoko Taro hated”. Although I don’t think it’s necessarily a personal telling of his experience I think Automata’s story is an analog for Yoko Taro to illustrate how he got to the point where he is & how he try’s to deal with it. Maybe he didn’t end up stabbing anyone in the gut or die a horrific death himself but to the young passionate “naive” man, that coming to realizing that the realities of life (and the gaming industry he so cares about) are different from the image he created in his head as a kid.
Or maybe I’m just full of shit.
[spoiler]My read of it is that 9S is basically an angry child/teen. He’s not able to learn and grow and mature because he constantly gets sent back to square one. He starts to learn and grow over Routes A/B but when he is confronted with loss after loss he’s not sure how to handle it so he goes into the nihilism of many young adults (and what Yoko Taro has talked about before this game which is notably the first with a true happy, if bittersweet, ending).
He’s a tragic figure imo but that doesn’t mean he’s completely sympathetic or that you should agree with him.[/spoiler]
The decision that this game asks of you in ending E is near perfect for me. I know it’s basically the same thing as the first NieR, but it still worked.
For me this game was ultimately about loss and sacrifice. Every moment prior to ending E results in loss or requires sacrifice. You’re swimming in it by the end. And then Yoko Taro asks that of the player themselves in order to help another complete stranger. This game made me feel a looooot of stuff. But I only cried when the credits were rolling, and the chorus of voices came in as all those helper ships came around and I finally got to see the final ending. It feels hopeful, just like ending E makes the player feel that there may be hope of ending the death cycle the main characters are trapped in.
Worst part: I selfishly kept my save. I literally couldn’t sleep. I stayed in bed for like 2 hours, woke up at 3AM, finished the game again and deleted my save. I don’t know what Yoko Taro did but I’ve never felt a real sense of regret from a choice in a game. It was really special. Though I still think my initial decision makes me a bad person.
Best part: The game only thanks you for playing if you delete your save, at least that’s what I observed. (could have missed it) and I thought that was an amazing touch.
Edit: I left this game basically hating everyone except A2. 9S and 2B are sympathetic, and I chose to give them another chance by getting ending E (which I do really like) but they’re not good people. I liked them as characters, I hated them as people. I think 2B hated both herself and her job but she still conducted her duty by murdering not only 9S, but other YoRHa units. By doing this she also locks in 9S’ fate. He’s basically in a permanent state of adolescence. 9S fails to understand what he learns and chooses to reject reality ultimately leading to his insanity and choice to conduct a genocide against machine lifeforms.
The only person who changes for the better in the entire game is A2, who, through Pascal, learns that her path (which initially, is similar to 9S’) is not the right one. There are other options, and other choices. Her purpose by the end of the game is to protect, not destroy, while everyone else either chooses that violence and destruction are the way forward, or can’t do anything but destroy because they can’t figure out how to stop.
Just finished this last night and then listened to the spoiler cast. Loved it, am still a little baffled.
I’m still going back go do more side quests I missed, I couldn’t wipe my save because there was another person playing on my computer and I didn’t want to excise their progress.
The game has such great moments and beats, though I’m having a hard time settling everything in my head. There’s also holes in my knowledge, like what the actual purpose of Yorha was, just to gather battle data? And I didn’t really learn about A2’s past at all, I kept expecting the main game path to elaborate on that and why she’s just an isolationist until you get to her route and she just becomes more sociable?
One thing about the podcast I found interesting was that they all chose to wipe the memories of Pascal, admittedly it wasn’t entirely intentional for them all. But I couldn’t possibly do that, I killed Pascal rather than leaving them as a husk of their former self. And then the podcast tells me I could have left! Though that also seems in poor taste, to just walk away from Pascal in that moment. That would feel to me like A2 had learned nothing. What did other people do there?
I’m so compelled to dive deeper into these games, does anyone have recommendations for video lets plays of Nier or Drakengard? I’ve seen the text ones but find them much harder to delve into.
the deal with pascal is, to me supposed to be how you the player respond to the information from 9s’ route on how machines copy various human social functions/civilizations and continuously make the same mistakes. killing pascal to me, implies that you think that that information is absolutely correct and that the machines could never learn past these mistakes, and that pascal is doomed to continuously make these mistakes, which i cannot agree with.
the yorha project is basically a huge scam to make androids on earth who were created prior to the yorha project, for the whole gestalt project, think that there were still humans worth fighting for, after they all died. the first wave of yorha units, the group that A2 was a part of was just made to test personalities for the future units and were all meant to die in the pearl harbor battle. i think that yoko taro has talked more about, various things that the game didnt answer but idk where to find that unfortunately
About Pascal [spoiler]my choice wasn’t motivated by the idea that they could never learn, but by the idea that wiping Pascal’s memory was effectively death anyway. Wiping their memories seemed like a choice that would feel better to do without actually being any better for Pascal. How much of their personality is retained if their memory is wiped? I had assumed they’d become a shell with no real traces left.
At the time I was also hopeful that there’d be a revelation about the machines not being truly dead. Which… Might have been what happened with the ark?[/spoiler]
One thing I noticed recently was the significance of the blindfolds that are part of the yorha uniform. Like, it shows that they are literally “blind” to the truth of things. So A2, the rogue android, doesn’t wear a blindfold and is the first person you meet who doubt’s their purpose. By the end of the game, both 2B and 9S have taken theirs off.
I wiped Pascal’s memories. It was what he wanted, though I did have a moral debate with myself on what the difference between wiping his memories and simply killing him would be. Even if I recognized that it was a possibility, I wouldn’t have simply walked away. I felt the more responsible thing to do was to honor his request.
That being said, I did visit Pascal’s village after that point as 9S and…oh. Oh, dear.
I tried to walk away but his cry for me to kill or wipe his memories made me wipe his memories. I wiped his memories in hope that maybe Pascal can rebuild what he had previously without any of the pain. When I found him as 9S though,I took the cores because I was scared of what they might have done with them either on accident or not. I regret every decision I made.
[spoiler]I walked away. Wiping his memories was as good as killing him, and that and killing him change nothing. The machines need to learn and grow and keeping these memories, painful as they are, is the only way.
But I can also admit to being selfish too. Pascal became a friend over the course of the game and I couldn’t kill him. Sure, I can rationalize that maybe 2B’s memories of Pascal were mixing with A2’s, giving A2 the affection and kindness needed to spare Pascal, but nah, it was me in the end. I didn’t want Pascal to die. I didn’t want to be the one to kill him.
So I walked away.[/spoiler]
I read the Pascal choice scene as he “dies” no matter what you do. I chose to walk away, and he wasn’t present at the launch of the ark in ending D (which he is if you wipe him) which to me read that he commuted suicide. Obviously he’s dead if you kill him, and the whole going back to the village if you wipe him shows you the alternative. Either way, to me the affirmation that he is classed as “dead” is that the trophy that pops after that scene does so no matter your choice, which is titled “Farewell, Pascal”.
On the topic of video analysis on the game, the best (and pretty much the only actual good) video I could find was Lana Rain’s on the game, which is really great. This is part one: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JaRYfg1_ByI and you can find her part 2 through the same channel.
The Yorha purpose comes back to the idea that the androids needed purpose to live, so they created it for themselves when they realized theirs was no longer necessary. See the wise robot sidequest on that
I missed it the first time through, but A2’s backstory is dove into part of the way through ending C. You have to speak to Anemone after doing the main quest stuff related to her as A2, but before you trigger the stuff with Pascal at the factory. She should point you toward the terminal behind her. Enjoy
Last thing I’ll say - unless you really have no want to actually perform them, you should definitely go back and finish every side quest. I mean every single one. I can’t think of a single one that didn’t add to the world in a significant way. The writing makes every single one worth doing. I got frustrated by the race one (because I’m bad at that kind of thing) but then by the end it’d taught me how to platform way better in the game and the end made me so glad I finished it. Also worth doing them all if you care about spoilers, because they get talked a lot about in discussions thanks to how good they are
Yeah I’ve done a bunch of the side quests when I noticed how good they all were. I missed most of the route A specific ones because I generally skip side quests in games and it took a bit for me to realise this game was different.
I actually thought the sidequests were mostly the weakest bit of the game. The escorty ones were kind of boring, and the story resolutions weren’t particularly interesting with some exceptions. I ended up advising people to just do as many sidequests as they felt like, but don’t worry too much about missing out because the best stuff is in the main A-E line.
For me, the Pascal decision was a point to step back and consider that Machines aren’t human.
If Pascal were human, I would have walked away, since one of the defining features of my own humanity is my capacity to handle grief, contextualize, and move on. But for Pascal, memory erasure is an option where it wouldn’t be for most people - and even if it were, who am I to judge what the impact of such a thing can or should be for something non-human? So I honored their request and erased the memories. Whether this was right or wrong to me got kind of hairy given that you could read Pascal’s wishes as an attempt to be more human, and thus memory erasure as a decidedly inhuman practice pulls them further from this goal. Definitely a fascinating moral conundrum, and one of my favorite choices I’ve had to make in a game.
[spoiler]Is someone more than the sum of their memories? I think probably yes. Memories shape you but they aren’t you. So if you get rid of the memories I think the shape would hold, at least in part.
So I don’t think it’s the same as killing (if it was, also why didn’t reset Pascal go right back to fighting?)
But in any case I think the memory wipe is the best of a bad choice here because the reset Pascal still gets a chance at making a life, even if you consider him a different person.[/spoiler]