NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139 …: Too conservative a remake?

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The remake and remastering are paths of access to the classic video game that, despite having always been present, in recent years have been established as a more than usual route. In the case of the remastering, the limits of its definition seem quite clear, diaphanous even, especially if we compare them with the remake concept. The space in which this conception moves is much wider, so liquid that it is able to adapt to accommodate projects as disparate as Resident Evil 2 Remake, Demon’s Souls, Shadow of the Collossus, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy or Final Fantasy VII Remake. If we take as a yardstick the way of approaching the original work, that is, the limits established to recompose it and deliver it, modernized, to the current public, the titles mentioned have rather little to do with each other. In that list there are from reboots that affect the fiction itself, to video games so respectful of the original work that they preserve the original animations. As a result, when a title of these characteristics is announced we all begin to wonder to what extent they will touch the original work, if they will dare to change this or that and other speculations that go to show that we never really know what to expect. This is precisely what happened to me with NieR Replicant ver. 1.22474487139 …, and after having been able to dedicate a few hours to it, I am still almost as out of place as at first.

The settings retain their essence, look nostalgic and use certain effects to imitate the mist that covered the original

Imbalance in the updating of its different sections

From the outset, it is worth bearing in mind that this version of NieR is something like the paradigm of the review, as it is the remake of the Japanese version of the original game. NieR Replicant was nothing more than a version that tried to adapt to the preferences and archetypes of characters in the Japanese market, changing the protagonist for a younger character. In turn, the western version ended up also reaching the Japanese market through Xbox 360 and under the name NieR Gestalt. Now, more than 10 years later, supported by the success of its sequel, NieR: Automata, Square Enix rescues the Japanese version of the project and gives it to Toylogic to bring back one of the cult PS3 and Xbox 360 games.

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If we go back to what was raised at the beginning, regarding the changes that occurred, one thing was clear in his presentation; combat was to be reinterpreted and adapted to modern times. Beyond that, a clear update graphic that is a major facelift, but is not going to surprise anyone at this point in the film. Now, with what I have played so far, I can tell you that this review gives us exactly what it seemed to offer from the beginning, and the result is, to say the least, weird.

The combat system has been substantially improved, getting closer to what was seen in NieR: Automata than what was offered by the original NieR

What do I mean by weird? That indeterminacy I was talking about, That blur on to what extent a remake should modify the original work, shows more strongly than ever in this Nier Replicant. I will not go into assessing the need or not to change certain mechanics, or design tics, when bringing a classic title to current times. I understand that there are many players who consider it an affront to change certain lines of code, and it is as respectable as saying otherwise. In my case, I always advocate the idea that the original work is there, waiting to be visited by anyone who has an interest in it. To that, I add the belief that, by influencing the graphic aspect of a title, simply by bringing it to the era of high definition, the original experience is already being disrupted in such a way that certain artistic conceptions, designed to be reproduced in a given technological context, they will always be affected, thus being able to modify the original tone and, consequently, part of the speech. Let them tell Bluepoint and the use of the blues he made in his recent Demon’s Souls review. Therefore, if we assume that by modifying the original work, even graphically, we are already entering the field of reinterpretation and, furthermore, We are facing a video game that has substantially altered its combat system, wouldn’t it be logical to start improving the rest of the aspects that did not work at the time and that, today, are even more archaic?

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There is no general set-up, and here it was necessary

Well, it seems that no, or so they must have thought of Toylogic, Square Enix and company, because on everything else NieR Replicant ver. 1.22474487139 … still feels so 2010, in a bad way, like the original NieR. Its startup feels as dated as you might expect. The original is a rough title in the playable, in the technical, and also in the structural, with a pressing “recadeo”, typical of the time, of which Weis himself (the talking book that accompanies us) is aware, reaching verbalize its absurdity on more than one occasion. For its part, the control now feels as light and agile as the one we can experience in Automata, and the combat, without reaching those heights of quality, is light years ahead of what it was offered more than ten years ago. The combos make sense thanks to the possibility of combining spells on the move, with melee attacks, being able to dodge to find the opponent’s back quickly and a more than decent parri system. But when the combat is over, it’s time to navigate the stage, it’s time to complete secondary missions, and once the task is done, it’s time to return to the NPC who entrusted it to us to notify him that we have completed the order and thus be able to terminate it. We also have to stop to press a button, and wait for the character to complete the relevant animation, each time we pick up an object. And, of course, you have to deal with the usual tutorials of the time.

The game is a clear sample of the evolution of Yoko Taro’s design ideas, a look at many of the systems we saw developed in Nier: Automata

I understand that entering into some of these aspects would have meant, from the outset, modifying several of the lines of dialogue that have to do, tangentially, with the structure of the game itself. But once the combat has been retouched, It is worth wondering to what extent it would not have been lawful to enter other plots, to what extent the limits of what we all understand as a remake should be stretched. Its rigid structure, daughter of its time, seems difficult to overcome without relatively drastic changes, but perhaps the experience could have been smoothed out a bit with various subtle tweaks that catered to some of the current design conventions. The automatic collection of objects, the no need to revisit the character who sent you to defeat the wild boar on duty, and even the modification of the attack patterns of some enemies. These are aspects that coexist with its new combat system, which despite not being revolutionary, it does show itself competent, becoming even enjoyable for anyone who enjoys chaining combos while Keiichi Okabe puts music to that dance of violence. These are design decisions separated by more than a decade, squeaking and resonating when they come into contact., like rusty gears typical of the abandoned factories of this fiction.

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And this leads me to wonder to what extent, this remake, is what you really need NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139 … to reach the four and a half million players that Nier: Automata managed to capture in his day. Undoubtedly, those who will be captivated by the collaboration between Yoko Taro and Platinum, will find here an interesting product that extends their fiction and enriches it. And yes, it is now more digestible, but 2010 glasses are still needed to swallow many of his ideas. Is there genius behind them? Yes, and it is a pleasure to move around the scenes at 60 frames per second (on PS5), but this remake has neither the ambition of Resident Evil 2, nor the reverential respect of Crash. Although it is still early to draw conclusions, what I have seen so far leads me to think that he is a victim of that indeterminacy to which he alluded at the beginning, something that generates some chaos in its playable speech, which is still a curious tribute, because if I had to choose an adjective to define the original, I would decide precisely on the qualifier “chaotic”. I, for my part, remain clueless with the remakes.