My Notes on Nier Automata

Originally posted 6/18/2017. Re-blogging in celebration to one of my all time favorite game–Nier Replicant Ver.1.22474487139 which will be released 4/23/2021. 

I highly recommend playing the game before reading this post.  I will not elaborate the storyline into details.  My intention is to share my summary of the game which may differ from yours.

For those who followed this blog from the beginning probably knew that I was anticipating for Nier Automata (2017) ever since its announcement.  In fact, I was very hungry to play another game like Nier (2010)  and was hoping Drakengard III (2013) would be just as good. To my disappointment, I  didn’t enjoy it as much mainly because of the frustrating gaming mechanics ( I didn’t enjoy flying the dragon).  And yet I stuck with it because of the storyline and it’s humorous dialogue.  I have not reached the ultimate, final boss yet which I heard was difficult.

I had to stop the game because I couldn’t understand  Zero’s (the protagonist) cruel intention to kill all her sisters. The character was hard for me to relate.  I was definitely playing a killer.  But after I watched Yoko Taro’s interview Philosophy of Violence, I learned to appreciate his approach in storytelling and the concept behind it.  I realized Zero’s behavior is natural, but primitive.  Instinctively we want to remove whatever is in our path.  Defeating our obstacles give us a sense of control and remove all of our competitions.  However, if we killed everyone in our way, we would end up dying alone and the aftermath would be Nier Automata.

I came to conclusion because I had to grasp my head around this killing frenzy around Yoko Taro’s games,  so I categorize his three games that I played into the following:

  • Drakengard III- killing to be the only one
  • Nier Gestalt- killing is justified as long as you think it is right
  • Nier Automata- killing loneliness

*One important thing to note, this is just my notes for the time being.  I really would like to complete the Drakengard series *

Onward to the main topic,  so when I started Nier Automata, I already knew it was about killing.  The game started off strong, which reminded me of Xenoblade Chronicles’ introduction where the characters are thrown into battle against the machines.   Once I arrived to a safe place (a city reclaimed by Mother Nature), I sensed that I was entering a world where a great civilization (mankind in general) once stood, but mysteriously drove itself to extinction.

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All we have left are machines and androids fighting one another.  In some ways, the game has a particular viewpoint about existence, which is hard not to notice if you do the side quests. It clearly pointed out that all lifeforms don’t want to fight all the time– they just want to co-exist. What meaning is there to killing? Why?

The real motive behind all the killing is more than just impaired thinking–it’s loneliness.   In the end, no one stands. But the tragedy is not the cycle of destruction, it’s actually the inability to view the world harmoniously, which is probably why 2B and 9S wear blindfolds. They exist to take orders without comprehending their actions.

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I won’t go any further into details about the game’s concept because I am beginning to develop my own theory, which is probably not what the game intended.  I do just want to mention my overall experience with the game is good, but it is not one of my favorites. I like the first installment more partly due to nostalgia. Even though, I did not enjoyed the game as much, the game made me want to play Ikaruga, which has been sitting in my backlog of games to play.

Lastly, my final thought in regards to Nier Automata,  I’m starting to understand that it’s difficult to introduce big ideas and incorporate gameplay due to unforeseen limitation (e.g, technical, budget, translation etc.).  So I really do appreciate when game developers attempt to give meaning to their creation.

Well that is it for now. Thanks for reading guys. Until next time, take care!

P.S

Think I will play Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon next to clear my backlog before I jump into a new game.  My backlog began to grow back in 2010-2011 when I started playing co-op/multiplayer games. It is time to seriously tackle the single-player games list!

Dark Souls: What the Bonfire Says about Humanity

Dark Souls sounds pretty dark, so dark that my non-gaming friend asked me why I play such a satanic game. Her question made me probe about my obsession with it. So I googled Dark Souls content on the internet. What was the result that stood out to me the most? The word masochist. In fact I didn’t know that word exist. Dark Souls players are masochists. According to Google dictionary, masochist is

a person who derives sexual gratification from their own pain or humiliation.”the roles of masochist and mistress (in general use) a person who enjoys an activity that appears to be painful or tedious.”

Feeling self-conscious about myself, I begin to ponder about my true nature as a human being. So I start to reflect on what Dark Souls really mean?

From Dark Souls prologue, we know that fire gives life, but “from the dark they came and found the souls within the flame.” Whatever this darkness is, it causes something to ignite within the life form–which drives living things to action and eventually to madness. So to prevent going Hollow (cold), players have to reach to the bonfire. The game design is very addictive. So addictive that I couldn’t play any other games for a long while. I was possessed by the satanic game!

If you look at the bonfire closely, it is not just a mere bonfire. A sword thrusts into the flames of the human ash. This implies the continuous cycle of life and death. A place for the souls to resurrect. Once a player dies, they come back alive at the bonfire. Think bonfire as a home–where you rest and prepare yourself for tomorrow’s battle.

All undeads, including you as the player, are naturally attracted to the flames because that is where you came to exist. Going without flame for too long, you will die and eventually lose your humanity. The result is Hollow. I like to think Hollows as corrupted politicians. I think every politician started out with good intention, but the more power he/she has, the more abuse he/she can do without having remorse.

So time again and again, you’d hear the phrase: “May the Flames Guide Thee” in the game. It is a reminder to the undead to cling onto the warmth within them. By doing so, the bonfires are not just checkpoints to meet the final destination. The bonfires play a significant role in the story because they are “corporeal manifestation” of each Fire keepers’ soul, the protector of life. She attends to the bonfire, protecting the flame from dying so that the player does not “gradually loses his humanity, until his wits degrade completely (Lucatiel’s quote from Dark Souls II).”

So this brought me to the question: Am I a masochist for liking Dark Souls? The answer is no, but I can be corruptible–in fact everyone can. The Souls series is like a video game bible. It preaches its story through the gaming mechanics. That’s why players eventually turn into ugly skeletons. I remember when I created my character, I want it to look beautiful, but then I quit caring about my appearance when I kept turning ugly! I then turn all of my attention to reaching the next bonfire at all cost. I was literally in fact, on my way to turning Hollow (mad).

You might think it’s all dark, but the ability to grasp that one can lose sight of what it truly means to live, means that there is also a lot of warmth in this game. It wants to teach us how to think. That’s why I enjoyed this game a lot.

DARK SOULS™ II: Scholar of the First Sin

Civilizations rise then fall and fire begins it all. We are built with an understanding and respect for the needs of every human beings. That is humanity. I think this is the reason why the Greek god Zeus, protector of guests, favors hosts that provide good hospitality. To be human is to offer warmth. Without warmth, the flame, we are dead both physically and mentally.  And according to an item description in Dark Souls, “the soul is the source of life and whether Undead or even Hollow, one continues to seek them.” What are we without the soul? We cease to exit. So yes, the game is about dark souls. We kill others for their humanity until there is no point of return. We kill others to survive. No wonder my friend called it a satanic game.

If you enjoy this post, please check out my other Souls posts from this blog. I had fun writing them and thank you for reading!

Dark Souls: What I Learned About Ash Lake and the Sexual Creatures

Dark Souls: Exploring Is an Achievement

Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon Review

I highly recommend playing the game before reading this post.   My intention is to share my interpretation of the game which may differ from yours.

I bought this game seven years ago and I finally beat it. The content of this game is quite mature but with light gameplay, which is both suitable for adults and children.  Perhaps, I am a child at heart but I really prefer the simplistic gameplay approach, especially when the story is the focal point. Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon is about a boy’s journey towards finding warmth in the post-apocalyptic world. It has a typical story but it took advantage of the video game medium to produce a unique experience.

What I enjoyed about the game is that it’s beautiful and atmospheric.  I found some of the enemies quite interesting and eerie, although this game is not a horror game.  I might do a separate post about this topic for in depth analysis.  Gameplay wise,  I personally think it’s a child version of Dark Souls.  In fact the bonfire and some enemies do have a strong resemblance to the Souls series. I don’t know much about the background for the development of making this game, but perhaps Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon  had some influences on the making of Dark Souls. Again, I will leave that for a different post after I gather some actual facts.

For now, I’d like to discuss Seto’s (the protagonist) journey. Throughout the game, Seto is accompanied by caring loving companions who are not humans. About midway,  Seto comes across an interesting character named Crow, who appears to be a big tea drinker like myself based on his clothes. This section, which may seem like a side track, is my favorite part of the game.

I enjoyed chasing and  hunting down Crow because it reminded me of  playing  hide and a seek and playing tag. For a moment, I didn’t mind taking a break from trying to find the silver hair girl. This section of the game illustrated an important point made by one of the characters, Chiyo : “It’s the sunbeams, the wind rolling over grass and the idle chit chat with friends [are] the gems of life.” That moment where Seto chased Crow to get his locket back is special. We must not forget during our journey to enjoy the moment we are in. That is called living.

However, the game also wanted to make an another important point:  Crow is a robot. Even if  we find happiness in the substitution of artificial life,  including digital ones–it does not replace the real life human interaction.  Thus, it’s the silver hair girl  that can offer Seto the real authentic relationship even if it involves conflict and misunderstanding between both people. And Sai, one of the main supporting characters, helped me understand that words may not always be the best form of expression, but it’s not entirely useless. Words fill in part where visual cue fails to communicate simple things such as  Seto wants Ren, the silver hair girl, to be his girlfriend. He is tired of being alone.

A little off topic here,  but I think everyone is alone because someone once told me that feelings are personal. We are so focused on our feelings most of the time that we forget other people have feelings too. There is a tendency to lack empathy for others and most of the time it’s unintentional. This lead to much hurt and destruction in the human society. The game really wanted to point out that the lack of empathy causes pain.

Overall,  the game provided a philosophical explanation for the continuation of existence, despite the dark side of humanity.  If you haven’t play this game already, check it out. And if you have played it,  let me know what you think. I’d love to hear them.

P.S

My next post most likely will be about Root Letter. I feel inspired by The Otaku Judge to get all the endings. Then I will play  Zero Escape: Nonary Games probably towards the end of this year.  

Thanks for reading! Until next time, take care guys.