Expect blood, guts, and f-bombs.
Expect blood, guts, and f-bombs.

Expect blood, guts, and f-bombs.

A book called "Grimoire Wiess", to be exact, and it talks. Square Enix and developer Cavia (Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles) won't go into detail about the book's backstory, motivations or how it came to be in NIER's possession, but we do know that it is the source of NIER's magical power, a power he is willing to use to save his daughter no matter what the cost.

Grimoire Weiss-powered spells are mapped to the shoulder buttons. Attacks like "Dark Hand" call forth a.. you guessed it… dark hand, that emerges from the book and lands a meaty punch on NIER's hapless enemies. Then there's "Dark Blast", which shoots out small orbs of energy from the book's pages. And let's not forget "Dark Lance", which does exactly what it says on the tin. There are more - loads more - some of which take out tens of enemies at once, causing blood to spray like streams from water hoses. Put simply, all the magic attacks are dark. Very, very, dark.

NIER, the book, and his daughter are then transported 1,300 years into the future. Why? We don't know. How? We don't know. All we know is that civilisation has reset itself following the apocalyptic effects of the Black Scrawl. The Earth, and NIER's world, is now at the Feudal stage. People live in huts, farm the land to survive, and live in constant terror from demonic beasts.

It is in one Feudal town that we get a better idea about the relationship between NIER and Grimoire Weiss. The book constantly talks to its owner, sniping at NIER with sarcastic and cutting remarks in a stereotypically posh English voice. They don't like each other, but for some mysterious reason they need each other. NIER saved Weiss from eternal doom, and in return it agreed to help our hero save his daughter from the disease. How long this uneasy truce lasts is anyone's guess.

NIER's menu system has been designed to look like you're reading Grimoire Weiss itself - a clever system. Maps, items, quests, weapons, and more can be navigated as if you're thumbing through the pages of a book. It's in Weiss that you'll fuss over one of NIER's more interesting features: word edit. You can add words, which stand for statistical bonuses (+8 per cent attack power, for example), to your weapons, levelling them up as NIER himself grows more powerful. The new weapon, complete with new name, can then be used in battle.

EX-TREME FISHING!

EX-TREME FISHING!

No hack and slash worth its virtual salt would be complete without massive, screen-filling bosses. Luckily, NIER's got you covered. The town NIER and his daughter are holed up in soon comes under attack from a swarm of Shades. As the people retreat to the town library, NIER draws his sword against the demons. But he's soon faced with a bigger problem, a much bigger problem: a huge, tentacle-faced boss that threatens to destroy the library and everyone in it.

Against bosses, attack gauges appear next to weak spots once you've hacked at them enough. These gauges trigger a countdown - hack enough before the time runs out and you'll perform a powerful, Grimoire Weiss-fuelled attack that spawns a blood-coloured hand that rips off the beastie's arm, and takes a chunk out of the boss's life bar in the process. In this case, however, nothing's working - the boss's limbs grow back seconds after they're ripped off. When all looks lost, and the giant demon is literally on top of the town library, our hermaphrodite pal Kainé turns up, f-ing and blinding as she lends a helping hand. This is where our demo ends. It's a shame: we had high hopes for those tentacles.

Obviously, NIER is a game that takes what we think we know about Square Enix games, rips its head off, then nonchalantly uses it to bowl a strike. Really, this is a good thing: we love it when developers try something a bit out there. The question NIER has to answer is: will its combat system be deep enough to keep the God of War/Bayonetta crowd happy? We can already see some lambasting the game's hacking and slashing as too simplistic to carry the player over the course of its 30-something hours. The story, setting and characters are refreshing and interesting - we've had our fill of painfully thin emos. The rivers of blood might look silly, and the swearing might jar, but at least it's different. This is NIER's greatest strength. Fingers crossed the combat does its part, too. If not, well - there's a hermaphrodite in NIER!

NIER will be released on the PS3 and Xbox 360 on April 23 2010.

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3 Comments

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SexyJams's Avatar

SexyJams

Lmao, Nier-ly here, lame :p
From what I've seen and read in various magazines and on websites this is really looking disappointingly poor to be honest.
I'm surprised to hear such contradictory things about it, FM seems to think it will look amazing.
Maybe I've heard the wrong stuff?
I'm still not sold tbh.
Posted 19:07 on 24 February 2010
Machetazo's Avatar

Machetazo

Thanks for that preview, FantasyMeister.

Although, the featured article was good, too. (I found that the bottom of page 1, and the top (first couple of paragraphs) of page 2, were helpful, in particular, though also liked the flavour of the rest well enough.))
Wesley's piece would have been all the better, accompanied by something like a dev walkthrough video, or a trailer that spells out what's what, with the game. Why is Square Enix not offering that? :(
Posted 12:49 on 24 February 2010
FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister

Cheers for this preview Wes. I've been digging around a bit trying to find out more on Nier, the more I find the more I like.

e.g. the RPG side of me loves the thought of fishing mini-games, according to one source you can develop your fishing skill to enable you to do things like catch sharks for turn-ins. Caught items can also be sold for money.

There's also a cultivation mini-game where you can eventually grow produce outside your house, again some quests (as well as Achievements/Trophies) appear to require your gardening results. There are also harder to find seeds that can apparently help you out in battle.

Then there's the whole transportation system including boars which can be called at any time and can be used to crash into Shades, and eventually boats which can be used for fast-travel. (Sounds reminiscent of Assassin's Creed II's modes of transport).

Then there are quests, which really lights up my RPG bulb. Not sure how big the quest chains are or whether they're mostly fetch quests but according to what I've read they're a good source of Words as rewards.

Last but not least, another character for your party known simply as No.7, a skeleton-like demonic experimental weapon.

My only remaining question really is how deep everything goes, I've seen the combat described as more akin to Kingdom Hearts than God of War, which in itself is intruiging, and I think I've learned enough not to worry whether there's decent balance between combat and RPG elements, seems there's plenty for me to get on with on both scores.

Think I'll just buy it and find out :)
Posted 10:52 on 24 February 2010

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Release Date: 23/04/2010
Developer: Cavia
Publisher: Square-Enix Co
Genre: Action
Rating: PEGI 18+
Site Rank: 2,945 4
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