You can watch my full video analysis of the game here https://www.youtube.com/wat...
First of all the NieR:Automata actually has 2 completely different gameplays, one classic shoot em up (SHMUP) version and one quick intense beat em up based action mixed with variation of long range projectile battling, and than its some role playing elements sprinkled over it.
Furthermore, the game is not only in 3D action but also features complete 2D stages which reminds one of classic great game from the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis era.
Lets first look at the base action(and ignore the SHMUP for now), NieR:Automata has a great flow to the action. Standard of Platinum previous games and the game do actually play as a mix between Bayonetta and Vanquish. Many of the bosses do truly split in between a hack and slash high tempo action or 3D shooter where its about avoiding bullets while hitting them with your special abilitets.
NieR:Automata features 4 different main weapons, short swords,large swords,spears and fist weapon. You can set up 2 weapon as your main and than easily swap between the 2 preset. Combos are based around mixing the 2 different weapons equipped and/or by holding the buttons down.
During all of that, you also have your pod. Your companion and often a very logical(wanting to kill everything) personal partner. The pod is the living gun that you will use for shooting at enemies, while this mainly feels like its to be used for the shooter part of encounters, it actually a big part to learn how to constantly fill your enemies with bullets while you punch them in the face a big part of mastering the combat. This is both hard and rewarding, especially when you also combo in the special abilitets that your pod has.
The most important customizeable part of the game is to what your pod should do, first the pod has the Lazer which is often the best thing to have and the go to ability but there is a lot of cool and interesting special abilitets. You will also later have more then 1 pod and than just like the weapon can be swapped constantly, each pod have their own unique projectile so this is important to maximum damage but even more so to trigger your different abilitets for great effect.
Mastering the combos of weapon + using the pods + abilitets is quite a challenge and the core gameplay simply is a blast to enjoy.
But the best part is actually the mix between 2D and 3d. This game has a very cool how it mixes this things so effortlessly. You can have a whole dungeon as 2d, but the boss be in 3d. Or Vice versa. Some stages mixes this back and forth constantly this is showcased mainly in the shmup stages that do this constantly. A part of the shmup can be in Side 2D, the next Overhead 2D. Then classic rail shooter, into a 3d etc. All of this is extremely impressive, especially as some bosses are fight in both 3d and 2d, so even if its the same boss they have different feel to them as the sudden 2d limitation can be make the encounter feel vastly different.
The Shmup part then its actually what the games starts with and then this game mode will be used every now and than. Its extremely nauseating difficult on very hard but otherwise its generally just a fun game experience, arguably to easy on the other difficulty. As mentioned on the Shmup part the game truly love to constantly swap the perspective and its 2 main different ones, whiel it features several different 2d views they all play the same. But in the 3d view, the games go classic Gundam and the airplanes becomes a mecha that has fighting abilitets.
The mecha part is played in a similar way to standard combat, you have weak and strong attacks which are in melee range, you got your special abilitets etc. The different 2ds are purely airplane mode and than you have only projectiles.
The only real problem with the shmup is that the game overall has an issue that enemies can both move and shoot during cut scenes, so each time the game changes perspective you might die, you cannot move during perspective change so especially on very hard then this might kill you. Enemies also fly into you in wait for the perspective to change and this will make projectile spawn at your face in some parts of the game. (On the standard gameplay there are places when you are completely surrounded by machines after the cut scene or load finishes as well)
The game is semi open world where you can explore areas that are currently unlocked and you later gain more areas by getting further in the story. You have classic rpg elements like crafting and improving weapon and pods, these are fine but not fantastic you simply get the mats and than you can make them better, but its also a lot of hidden items to find. The game also has fishing and some of the side quest are kinda like their own mini games for example there is a racing side quest where you have to get to places in a set amount of time. The game has good variation of gameplay.
The game only has 2 cons the game has when it comes to core gameplay is its checkpoint and other minor things with unfortunately a similar effect. When you die in the game you might have to run for 3-4 minutes until you reach the boss again. When you get to the boss you can skip the cut scene but not the boss dialogue (often a monologue of cryptic messages) which can take 1-2 minutes as well to have to listen to.
The main issue is that is not that its punishing you as the player for your mistake of death, the problem is more that the punish is not punishing enough(ignoring the boredom). If it was constant hard battles between point A(checkpoint) and B(boss) it would be fine, but often its just travel time with no enemies, its just travel time where you cannot fail. This puts you out of the zone each time you die on a boss. The game also have some what slow loading.
Fortunately this issue only happens on roughly the bosses. On the other ones you spawn at the boss right away (making it also inconsistent)
The second con is that some side quest simply are not that good. Many are typical MMORPG feel to it, kill 10 machine get their parts kind of boring quest. This is especially common in the begging of the game and the later quests are better.
Otherwise many quest are really, really good. For example, surprisingly some of the escort mission both involves great philosophical side story while others have different possible endings. Basically some of the side quest are really good and they may or may not affect the outcome of the main story.
Graphic and Sound:
This is the best part of NieR:Automata, the game combos amazing vibrate but on the same life less worlds with ominous and for the most parts melancholy sound track. Its truly hard to explain why this is so good, its a game to experience. What the game does best is that it tells a lot of the story thought its great aesthetics. You will learn a lot from a boss or a just a random machine by its particular movements, its color scheme, its face paintings etc.
NieR:Automata is also really ugly on purpose, the wold map looks ugly like crazy but it somewhat fits perfectly in to the game experience. The hacking parts of the game looks shitty, really shitty but it just works. Its a weird binary 0101 world that you see inside your android brain and its great.
Overall the game world feels so alive while it also feels extremely dead and depressing, it is hard to give this game justice when it comes to the graphic and sound.
The overall sound effects are also great, weapon clashing, explosion etc. All of that is great.
It has the issue that sometimes performance is dropped this not to common it is usually fine.
The only real con is that many characters do look the same, while the characterization is often done in an extremely efficient manner it can be hard gameplay wise to see who you are and who the enemy is, during special battles where you than fight similar characters to your controlled characters. Furthermore, the game zooms out a lot (this is a set camera angle) on certain fights than it can be hard to see who you are during the onslaught.
Its extremely hard to discussion and evaluate the story without spoiling. So trust in that its great, even many side quest have very good story and optional endings on them.
What one can say about the story is that its very special, this is a unique game. You are always feeling sad for every dam enemy, often it feels like you do not want to hurt anyone you face.
A very good thing the game does is that a lot of the story is so nicely told by the graphics as mentioned a few parts of the game even do its so little text you still feel like you know the character so well.
The game also has that a lot of the dialogues are told while you are moving, this really smooths on the gameplay from a classic JRPG where you would have to stand still and read.
Furthermore, NieR:Automata is filled with details about weapons, characters, units and so on in the game archives which is recommended to read, many of the weapons actually have quite the well written background stories on them, however you can only read the story partly until you improve the weapons level by crafting part of the game. There is a lot of extra material basically that you are gonna want to find out.
Just that talking to NPC is something you want to do is a great sign, the NPC says interesting and sometimes super weird and eerie stuff. Many random NPCs does some crazy random stuff in the background that will tell you more about the story and so forth.
Best part is that you are always second guessing if what you do is the correct thing, and who truly is on your side, who is honest to you, who is trying to trick you.
I end up giving the NieR:Automata a 9.3 for normal and Hard.
While I have to give it a 8.5 on Very hard.
First of all NieR:Automata is clearly not balanced around easy or very hard, on easy the game plays for you, it auto avoids, auto aim and constantly shoot etc.
Where the minor issues are so amplified on Very hard.
The checkpoint issue is extremely boring on Very hard, having to re run an area over and over again with no actual enemies on it this + that you can only skip half the cut scenes or so. And the thing that enemies will move and shoot during cut scens or perspective change is just crazy, this will kill you all the time on Very hard and why mainly the Shmup stages are notoriously a pain the ass.
All pod chips are also meaningless on very hard as most of them are e.g lower damage taken, life steal etc. Which none of them work on very hard.
Lastly there is a clear glitch in that some enemies will hit you before the actual weapon/projectile touches you, the game is simply to generous sometimes on some abilitets collision detection, this will kill you a lot of very hard and it will look really strange and be very frustning.
That all being said, NieR:Automata has an amazing sound,graphic and story al 10/10.
The general game flow is fantastic, its great swaping between weapons and pods, its easy to change the customize of pods even during combat. The smhup stages might not be your cup of tea, they certainly where not mine but after having done a few and really got the feel for it the later stages of them where actually really enjoyable.
The bosses battles are great, some bosses are extremely intimidating while others are sad, so sad.