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REVIEW: NieR Replicant — Subtle Re-release of a Cult Action RPG Classic



Published by: Square Enix
Developed by: Square Enix / Toylogic Inc.
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 Xbox One Windows
Genre(s): Action role-playing, hack and slash
Mode(s): Single-player
Game Type: , , , , , ,
79/ 100

User Rating
4 total ratings



Updated gameplay polish. New content plus cut content included. Holds up to modern standards.


Some old and outdated RPG tropes. Subpar remastering.

Posted May 3, 2021 by

NieR Automata was a huge success, not just because of the viral THICC lady on the cover, but because it was a stellar action RPG that was brimming with quality and narrative. But what most people don’t know is that it’s a spiritual successor to a cult classic game from 2 console generations ago. If you were a fan of Automata but didn’t know about the aforementioned, don’t worry, because this is the real purpose behind this subtle remake/re-release.


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NieR Replicant is actually a remake of NieR from 2010. In fact, there were two versions of the original that existed, NieR Replicant, a version exclusive only to Japan, and NieR Gestalt, the version everyone else got. Both games were near-identical besides the decision to change the protagonist’s relation with one key character. It’s likely an artistic choice rooted in the game’s overarching plot. Nevertheless, NieR Replicant 1.2… is based more on the JP version, which, I think, is somewhat the definitive version that was originally intended.

Whilst in Gestalt, you play as the father of a girl named Yonah, in Replicant, and in the remake, you play as the Brother. Orphaned with no one but each other to keep company, the protagonist is tasked with protecting his sister, who is afflicted by some disease with no known cure. Determined to save his sister, the Protagonist encounters a Book called Grimoire Weiss, which was sentient and possessed great magical power. Together, they set out to find a possible cure, only to find their story intertwined with an entity known as the Shadowlord.

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Nier Replicant’s story opens in a confusing manner, which then transitions to something more like a typical JRPG. For a while, it stays pretty mundane like that, with side-quests and straightforward encounters that don’t seem all that compelling. But trust me when I say that the game vastly opens up halfway through, and not only literally, but in terms of narrative, too. What seemed like a typical hero damsel story ends up being, well still a hero damsel story but with some interesting twists and turns that might leave you with a thirst for more answers than a satisfying resolution by the end of your first playthrough. This becomes evidently deliberate considering there are multiple different endings to the game, each one expanding further from the first, which barely scratches the surface.

New game plus doesn’t take you all the way back from the very start, thankfully, but then again, for a JRPG, it’s actually not that lengthy, depending on how often you did sidequests and ground for levels. But when speaking of replayability, NieR is chock-full of it, as it included, not just several endings, but challenge quests, new dialogue, and even some cut content not found in the original game.


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At its core, Replicant is a fast-paced action RPG. But, If you’ve played Automata then you’ll have some idea of how Replicant really plays. You’ve got your standard light and heavy attacks, a dodge roll, and a block/parry button; fundamentals to any good Action game. On top of that, you’ve got various spells at your disposal which you can cast or charge up during combat. It’s challenging stuff, having to manage your attacks and evasions whilst also charging and aiming your magical abilities. You can have up to four spells mapped to your shoulder buttons, although block and roll are mapped to L2 and R2 respectively so you’ll lose those if you choose to remap them with magic.

For the first half, you’re limited to just your short sword, though you could buy or acquire new ones and upgrade them as you see fit. At the beginning of the second half, you’ll gain access to the two-handed sword and spear-type weapons; each with its own move sets and properties. Throughout the game, enemies can drop words, which are spells you can equip to your weapons, magic, and even your dodge and block abilities for additional bonuses.

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Though the gameplay is primarily action RPG, Replicant is filled with genre-jumping sequences that can feature fixed perspectives, puzzles, and at one point, even a text adventure. These jumps don’t generally take too long and serve as nice changes of pace in between hacking and slashing, which becomes tedious even after new enemy types get introduced. That’s because they don’t normally change too much about the flow of combat, most just vary in durability and attack frequency, or immunity to certain attacks. Thankfully, boss fights are a different breed. Some are straightforward enough and sometimes pretty easy, others are quite challenging and multi-faceted that it requires a bit of patience and ingenuity to overcome. Unless you’re playing on super easy, which lets you automate pretty much all aspects of play besides movement (yes, you can auto-dodge). Regardless of how you choose to play, Replicant maintains a fluid combat feel with varying but manageable levels of challenge.


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To be honest not much has really changed in terms of visuals. You get better resolution and texture but not by a lot. The majority of the updates done on this remaster are in terms of gameplay polish and the overall quality of existing content. The game is fully voiced now, making even the most mundane sidequests somewhat more enjoyable now.  Cutscenes are capped at 30 something frames but the gameplay itself is at a higher, smoother framerate. Combat and movement have also been polished enough to more closely resemble the handling in Automata compared to the original Replicant, which is distinguishably more sluggish. Visually, it won’t blow you away, nor does it come close to Automata’s aesthetics, but it doesn’t get in the way of the enjoyment, plus it adds to the whole classic RPG feels of two generations past without looking too dated.


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Fans of NieR Automata will find Replicant a solid experience that expands them to the NieR lore. Fans of the original will find revisiting the game a worthwhile experience, too. Plus, they’re the ones more likely to appreciate all the changes and additions from the original. Anyone new to the franchise will still find a fun albeit odd experience here. At its price, Replicant 1.2… is a decent choice for anyone looking for an action RPG experience that’s both familiar and unique. 

Dian Raval

Dian is a writer for Flipgeeks who, in his spare time, stares at a wall in his basement. If you'd like to discuss music, video games, or the infinite wisdom of concrete, follow him on twitter @iburnandfume or subscribe to his YouTube channel @iburnandfume. He's pretty much iburnandfume in everything. Apparently he... burns and fumes.


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