NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…
While many video game brands have a strong global fanbase from the very beginning, it sometimes takes a franchise a little longer to become a household name. There is perhaps no better example of this than Sega’s Yakuza, a series that had already released multiple games across three generations before Yakuza 0 made its grand debut on PS4 and opened up the city of Kamurocho to the mainstream gaming community at large. It had always been there, it just needed the right opening with which to welcome the people to its neon-infused streets en masse.
Another example of this phenomenon comes in the form of Square Enix dystopian franchise NieR. Already a spin-off from the equally obscure Drakengard series, the 2010 action RPG had its fair share of fans, but did not really turn western heads en masse. Then, in 2017, developer PlatinumGames unleashed the critically acclaimed hack ‘n’ slasher NieR Automata upon the world and — thanks to its mesmerizing storytelling, wild action, and eponymous protagonist, 2B — NieR was no longer a cult brand, suddenly finding itself referenced alongside more mainstream gaming series such as Final Fantasy, Tomb Raider, and Bayonetta.
And thus, it comes as little to no surprise that when the original NieR was remastered this year as NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…, it immediately found better favor and fortune than its original 2010 release. Appealing to an entirely new audience of fans — gatewayed into Yoko Taro’s incomparable universe via 2B’s exciting escapades — NieR Replicant was able to reintroduce its fascinating worlds, characters, and lore to an audience now more attuned to the series’ tone, lore, and calm yet utterly apocalyptic style.
Better still, NieR Replicant allowed the original RPG to return loaded for bear, featuring fully-voiced character dialogue, and with deeper context and resonance added to its tale of love, loss, adventure, and redemption. While all of these upgrades add polish to NieR evocative and emotional narrative, NieR Replicant‘s gameplay also received a technical upgrade via an overhauled combat system (courtesy of PlatinumGames) and gorgeous remastered visuals from developer Toylogic, allowing the title’s engaging cast of characters and grim, yet oddly calming vistas to shine like never before.
NieR Replicant is a remaster/remake done correctly. More than a nostalgia-baiting cash-grab, or a half-hearted retread, the 2021 revisit demonstrates growth — Growth in technology, growth in its creators, and growth in the franchise itself. While it might have taken over a decade for the people to experience its evocative, heartstring-tugging adventure en masse, it has most certainly been worth the wait. The critical success of NieR Replicant and NieR Automata only galvanizes this unique and compelling sci-fi series. For a franchise built in bleakness, the future remains curiously bright.