Copyright Adam Schlosser

Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser

Posted by Pip

TG14- The Worst Kind Of Jerks

Hiero was kind enough to take the long way around so everybody could catch up on the Tarot they've missed from the games. We have A and 1, the Lovers, in panel 1, the Hanged Man (the “metal golem” as Murd put it) in lock-down mode in panel 4, and of course we met Sun and Moon in Addy's arc. And those Tarot prizes weren't just for show... Whenever you get a canopic jar full of goo, trouble is always around the corner. But it's pseudo-Fortune so we can revel in bad things happening to her.

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Long, I'm dreadfully sorry, Kalil Review: Nier- Nier's strong points are its exceptional writing and a fantastic story that's interesting right from the start. It's hard to go wrong when you play a short tutorial and the next screen is "1,312 Years Later...". The characters (those you play and even random people around the world) are developed, realistic, and have intriguing stories to tell that are among the best I've seen in an RPG. The dialogue can be genuinely funny and at times when you don't expect it but you need those moments of humor because the game is relentlessly sad. Sad in a good, well-written way, but still. Vast fields of sad. For starters, the game is about a creepily restrictive father trying to find a cure for his daughter's fatal illness in a world already ravaged by disease and decay. On top of that, you get the feeling that the girl doesn't really want to live because of the toll finding the cure takes on her father. She'd rather spend her last month at his side but instead, he leaves her alone for long stretches of time to scour the land for a cure. Even the side missions pile on depression. One quest has a man hiring you to find his missing dog and that simple task ends with multiple dead characters. The sadness is never maudlin though. It's a sadness earned through good writing, fleshed out characters, interesting situations, and genuine emotion. Even the soundtrack pulls you in and adds to the emotion. There's some seriously great music and wonderful sound direction in here. The gameplay isn't as awe-inspiring and fantastic as the writing, but it's a good game saddled with some glaring flaws and bad decisions. From small things like your character constantly getting knocked to the ground and falling over when hit (making you wait for him to get back up only to get knocked back down two seconds later until you master the timing on the recovery) to larger things like the enemies that can kill you in one hit but there's no warning that they're anywhere near that strong. One of the very first quests you get is to stop a boar outside of town that's gotten too violent and that thing decimates you in a single hit. That's not the best way to draw somebody into the game. Enemies are also designed to surround you but thanks to a terrible camera, it's often a labor to just turn around and find them. Combat also completely lacks a lock-on system so you're going to spend a lot of time flailing about where an enemy used to be as it runs circles around you. The camera is passable in most areas but chooses bizarre times to focus on something irrelevant or becomes infuriatingly hard to control and fights against you at some key times. The biggest shot in the foot is the sidequest design. So many quests. Inane, trivial, pointless quests. I wouldn't mind them if they were "hey, there's something really dangerous/huge that's doing something really bad so go stop it" kind of quests but they're the "hey, walk to the next town, buy me X items, and then walk back here" kind of quests. They're almost all pointless and do nothing to further the story or world. And they spiral into other quests making them more and more frustrating. For instance, one quest has the tavern owner asking for you to get two sisters to sing at his bar. First, you have to go talk to the two sisters but while one is willing, the other won't perform unless she gets hammered. The tavern in town doesn't have the drink she likes so you have to travel to the tavern in a different town. You get there and the owner no longer has the ingredients for the drink so he sends you off to find the six ingredients strewn unlabeled across the land. You gather them, return to the bar, and then he sends you back to the second sister to let her know that the drink will be ready. All that is just a single quest that does almost nothing to advance the plot, involves a lot of backtracking and going back and forth to places you've already been, and really takes no skill to complete. One of the later quests have you walking back forth from one end of the world to the other three or four times. But because your character is eternally poor and everything in the game is expensive, you have to keep doing these quests. You are everybody in town's monkey and if they say to travel across the land to buy them a pack of seeds, you're going to dance for them. The majority of the quests also involve gathering hoards of building materials that enemies are loathe to drop or ones that are rare to dig up or gather. The drop rate is ludicrous on some of the quests. And why does taking a wolf's tooth preclude me from also taking its hide? Killing animals typically gives you either hide or meat/fangs/claws/whatevers, but there's no valid reason why you can't take both. One quest may charge you with gathering five “goat hides” but after your twentieth “goat meat” in a row, you're probably going to start swearing at the innocent creatures of the world. Thankfully, you'll learn to be able to pick out which quests have story involved and which just give you cash. Once you hit a certain point, you'll have all the weapons you can buy and you can mostly ignore money from there on. The writing is so good that you want to do quests, but gathering the materials and all the fetch questing are dreadful and you'll just stick to the main story. And there's fishing. Godawful, poorly implemented, completely unnecessary, hateful, hateful fishing. We need to have a game developers summit where we all sit down and agree that the only games that should ever have fishing segments are fishing games. It's bad in Zelda, it sucks in Sonic, and it's completely terrible here (it doesn't help that the in-game instructions on how to fish are actually incorrect and following them basically guarantees failure. Thanks, proof-readers!). The game as a whole has a lot of subtle references to other games, some cheeky, some blatantly obvious and very funny. It has quite possibly the best Zelda reference I've seen in a game. You're in an area where the back of your mind says that a Zelda reference would be really funny right about here and the game actually follows through and blows your expectation out of the water. Keeping with the game's book theme, it doesn't feel like it's ripping them off, more that it's the equivalent of being "well-read" but in games instead of literature. It pulls from survival-horror, dungeon crawlers, platformers, and some of the boss fights even borrow elements from bullet hell top-down shooters. And then there's riding boars. Not only is this way more bad ass than riding Epona, but can Epona drift? Heck no. Boars all the way, man. This is most definitely a writer's game. Heck, one of the dungeons is completed entirely through text and doesn't have a single action sequence but it's just as engrossing and fun to play. It's all about the power of words and names. I even had to bust out the dictionary at one point. I can fairly easily say that this is the first time I've ever heard the term "swain" pop up in a conversation (oh, and it's freaking sad). Once you complete the story, your reward is a good ending and then an absolutely fantastic New Game+ mode. It adds a lot to the story and characters, even the enemies, and you will completely be game for a second playthrough and sets a standard for second playthroughs that's going to be tough for most games to meet. Even after getting all four endings, I went online and read the 130+ pages of additional material that expands on the backstory from a book that was only released in Japan (thank you, fan community translators!) because I just didn't want the game to be over.
Sins Committed: Tedious quests, Bad camera, Fishing!
Virtues Acted: Good music, Good writing, Good characters, Good acting, Interesting powers, The game brought me to tears over a character named “Beepy”