NieR Replicant Is the Most Video Gamey Game of The Year | Best Games of 2021
2021. It’s been “a year” for some. We’re celebrating this collection of sun rotations by looking at the top 2021 games. Next up: Nier Replicant.
2021 saw many exciting releases but no clear GOTY slam-dunks. It is difficult to determine the game of year because there was no clear winner like Animal Crossing last year or Hades. When I was thinking about what makes a game from 2021 the game of the year I found Nier Replicant to be a contender. This is because of one simple fact: out of all the video games that I played this year, Nier Replicant is the most gamey video game.
What does this mean? What does that mean?
Nier Replicant’s gameplay is very similar to the original version, which was over a decade old. However, there are a few performance improvements to make combat more fluid and comparable with modern games. Nier is an action-RPG that lets you battle strange shadow monsters using swords, spears, and axes.
Your sidekick is a magical talking book that allows you to do special moves. You can upgrade your weapons and farm materials. Side quests are plentiful. The rewards are often lower than the materials required to complete them. Certain endings will not be available unless you have all the weapons. To access the new ending, you will need to replay the second part of the game three to five times depending on your skill with juggling saves.
These seemingly obsolete design choices are welcome return to old games, even though they feel outdated when played in 2021. It’s not tedious to grind through a dungeon seven times in order to find a rare piece, but it does feel like a routine. The combat is flexible and fun, the music is haunting and the characters are compelling and likable.
It helps that Nier is packed with surprising complexity and innovative systems. Nier can sometimes switch up its genre to become a Resident Evil clone or a Diablo-like, isometric brawler, or even a text-based adventure. Each shift is different, but always makes sense. Nier is open to any new mechanic or idea, and you are forced to follow along.
Although the ride can be wild, Nier doesn’t lose sight of the human element at its core. The story of Nier is dark and bleak, with a lot of robot-centric philosophy. But the game balances these grim elements with moments of hope and joy. It is full of people living in the midst of total apocalypse. The world feels so alive and filled with life. If this world weren’t worth fighting for, all the replaying and backtracking wouldn’t be as much fun.